What Is Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease?

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, or ADPKD, is a type of polycystic kidney disease (PKD). PKD is a group of inherited genetic diseases that cause multiple cysts, or pouches filled with fluid, to form in your kidneys.

The “AD” stands for “autosomal dominant” and has to do with how the disease is passed down from parent to child.

With ADPKD, if just one parent has the disease, there is a 50% chance that each child will have it.

About 120,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with ADPKD. It’s found equally in men and women and among all ethnic groups.

With ADPKD, cysts grow over time. As time passes, the growing cysts make it harder for the kidneys to function. These growing cysts eventually lead to kidney failure, which is when your kidneys can no longer work. In fact, about half of all people with ADPKD get to the point where their kidneys can no longer work by the age of 60.

Knowing the important early signs and symptoms can help you learn whether you are at risk for accelerated disease progression. It is important to know that there is no cure for ADPKD, but the earlier you know about your risks, the earlier you and your doctor can determine a plan for taking care of your kidneys. You can start by using this site to learn about ADPKD, how it affects the kidneys, and how it gets worse over time. Then, take a few moments to fill out the Signs and Symptoms Checklist to understand your personal risk level.


Every day, your body makes waste that goes into your blood. The kidneys work to take this waste out of your blood so it doesn’t build up and harm your body.

In people with ADPKD, cysts develop and grow in the kidneys. The cyst growth causes damage to the kidneys, making it hard for them to work.

ADPKD is the fourth leading cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). ESRD is when the kidneys are no longer able to work at a level needed for day-to-day life.

About 1 in 2 people with ADPKD develop kidney failure by the age of 60 and will need dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Watch a short video about ADPKD


When you have ADPKD, your kidneys stop functioning normally and may stop working. Doctors often categorize your kidney disease into 1 of 5 stages based on how well your kidneys are working. These stages are called the chronic kidney disease (CKD) stages. Each stage is based on an estimate of your GFR—or glomerular filtration rate.

Your GFR number shows how well your kidneys are filtering your blood. Your GFR can be estimated by measuring the amount of a protein called creatinine in your blood. The estimated GFR number, or eGFR, for a normal kidney is 90 mL/min/1.73m2 or greater. As you move through the stages of CKD, your number goes down.

It’s important to remember that no matter what your stage of kidney function loss, ADPKD is damaging your kidneys. Even as early as stage 1, damage is still taking place.

Fact or Fiction?

Fact or Fiction?

In ADPKD, cysts damage your kidneys, making it harder for the kidneys to work.

Fact or Fiction?

ADPKD Can be diagnosed by ultrasound.

Fact or Fiction?

If I feel fine, then my ADPKD is not progressing.