1. Home
  2. Health Information
  3. Kidney Disease
  4. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

View or Print All Sections

What is PKD?

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder that causes many cysts to grow in the kidneys. PKD cysts cause high blood pressure and problems with blood vessels in the brain and heart. Cysts in the liver can also occur with PKD.

An illustration of a normal kidney and a polycystic kidney.

Autosomal Dominant PKD

Autosomal dominant PKD is often not diagnosed until later in adulthood. For this reason, health care providers often call autosomal dominant PKD "adult PKD." In many cases, PKD does not cause signs or symptoms until cysts are half an inch or larger.

Autosomal Recessive PKD

Autosomal recessive PKD is a rare genetic disorder that affects the liver as well as the kidneys. The signs of autosomal recessive PKD frequently appear in the earliest months of life, even in the womb, so health care providers often call it "infantile PKD."

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for PKD

PKD may require changes in what you eat to control blood pressure. Following a healthy eating plan can help lower blood pressure. A health care provider may recommend the DASH eating plan, which focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and foods lower in sodium.

Clinical Trials

NIDDK and other components of the NIH conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

View clinical trials that are currently op and recruiting.

Related Research

Last Reviewed October 2017

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.