How Is Lupus Nephritis Treated?

Reviewed on 5/12/2021

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the body's immune system, and causes inflammation and pain in the skin, joints, kidneys, and brain. SLE that affects the kidneys is called lupus nephritis. Lupus nephritis treatment includes corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, blood pressure medications, antimalarial drugs, chemotherapy drugs, and diet changes.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the body’s immune system, and causes inflammation and pain in the skin, joints, kidneys, and brain. SLE that affects the kidneys is called lupus nephritis. Lupus nephritis treatment includes corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, blood pressure medications, antimalarial drugs, chemotherapy drugs, and diet changes.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack its own organs and tissues, causing inflammation and pain, commonly in the skin, joints, kidneys, and brain and may be fatal. SLE that affects the kidneys is called lupus nephritis. 

Lupus nephritis is treated with different types of medications, including:

What Are Symptoms of Lupus Nephritis?

Symptoms of lupus nephritis may include:

What Causes Lupus Nephritis?

The cause of lupus nephritis is unknown. 

Factors that may play a role in developing the disease include: 

  • Family history 
  • Environment 
    • Infections
    • Viruses
    • Toxic chemicals or pollutants (car fumes, factory smoke) 

QUESTION

Lupus is an infection. See Answer

How Is Lupus Nephritis Diagnosed?

In addition to a patient history and physical examination, tests used to diagnose lupus nephritis include:

  • Urine test to check for protein and blood
  • Blood tests
    • Protein levels
    • Cholesterol
    • Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) which shows how well the kidneys filter waste
    • Antiphospholipid antibodies  
    • Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) 
  • Kidney biopsy 

What Are Complications of Lupus Nephritis?

Complications of lupus nephritis are uncommon because treatment usually works well. When complications of lupus nephritis occur, they may include: 

  • Kidney failure (occurs in 10 to 30 percent of patients)
  • Scarring in the kidneys, which occurs with the most severe form of lupus nephritis (diffuse proliferative nephritis)
    • Scars are permanent
    • Kidney function declines as scars form
  • Increased risk of cancer, especially B-cell lymphoma, a type of cancer that forms in cells of the immune system
  • Increased risk of heart and blood vessel problems

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Reviewed on 5/12/2021
References
https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/lupus

https://www.allinforlupusnephritis.com/about-lupus-nephritis/signs-and-symptoms

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/lupus-nephritis