Acute interstitial nephritis is a common renal syndrome that may be associated with a variety of infections and drug therapies or may develop without an identified cause. Three cases are presented to illustrate the three types of acute interstitial nephritis—drug related, infection related, and idiopathic. Cell-mediated immune mechanisms seem to be more important than humorally mediated mechanisms in the pathogenesis of acute interstitial nephritis. Frequently, eosinophils are identified as a component of the interstitial cellular infiltrate, and eosinophiluria and eosinophilia have been claimed to be helpful in the diagnosis of acute interstitial nephritis, especially the drug-induced type. Neither eosinophiluria nor the presence of increased urinary levels of eosinophil major basic protein, however, is specific for the diagnosis of acute interstitial nephritis. Patients with drug-induced interstitial nephritis frequently have symptoms and signs suggestive of a hypersensitivity syndrome and rarely have more dramatic anaphylactic manifestations. Systemic glucocorticoids have been shown to be beneficial in this type of acute interstitial nephritis.
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