How Quickly Does Lupus Nephritis Progress?

Reviewed on 11/4/2022

What Is Lupus Nephritis?

How Quickly Does Lupus Nephritis Progress?
Lupus nephritis is a kidney disease caused by systemic lupus erythematosus.

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. When SLE affects the kidneys, it is called lupus nephritis. 

Lupus nephritis tends to develop within 5 years of the appearance of initial lupus symptoms. The condition affects about 40% of people who have SLE and can lead to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) in 22% of patients over a period of 15 years. 

Certain factors are associated with a more rapid progression of lupus nephritis to end-stage kidney disease

  • Ethnicity: African Americans tend to have a poorer prognosis 
  • Younger age
  • Male sex
  • Diffuse proliferative lupus nephritis
  • Impaired kidney function at diagnosis
  • Nephrotic range protein in the urine (proteinuria)
  • Poor response to immunosuppressive therapy
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

What Are Signs and Symptoms of Lupus Nephritis?

The following are the signs and symptoms of lupus nephritis:

How Do Doctors Diagnose Lupus Nephritis?

Lupus nephritis is diagnosed with patient history and physical examination, as well as the following tests:

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

What Is the Treatment for Lupus Nephritis?

Lupus nephritis is treated with the following medications:

Reviewed on 11/4/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

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