What is lupus nephritis?
Lupus nephritis is an autoimmune inflammation of the kidney caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a disease of the immune system. SLE typically causes harm to the skin, joints, kidneys, and brain.
The causes of SLE are autoimmune diseases. Many factors may play a role, including
gender—SLE is more common in women than men
heredity—a gene passed down by a parent
infections are the main cause
viruses environmental causes
What are the symptoms of lupus nephritis?
Lupus nephritis may cause weight gain, high blood pressure, dark
urine, or swelling around the eyes, legs, ankles, or fingers.
However, some people with SLE have no overt symptoms of kidney
disease, which must be diagnosed by blood and urine tests.
How is lupus nephritis diagnosed?
Diagnosis may require urine and blood tests as well as a kidney
Urine test: Blood or protein in the urine is a sign of kidney
The kidneys remove waste materials like creatinine and
urea from the blood. If the blood contains high levels of these
substances, kidney function is declining. Your doctor should
estimate your glomerular filtration rate based on your creatinine
Kidney biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure to obtain a tissue sample for examination with a microscope. To obtain a sample of your kidney tissue, your doctor will insert a long needle through the skin. Examining the tissue with a microscope can confirm the diagnosis of lupus nephritis and help to determine how far the disease has progressed.
How is lupus nephritis treated?
Treatment depends on the symptoms and test results. Medicines called corticosteroids can decrease swelling and inflammation by suppressing the immune system. Additional immunosuppressive drugs related to cancer and drugs used to prevent rejection of organ transplants may also be used. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) or mycophenolate (CellCept). Newer experimental treatments include a drug called rituximab (Rituxan). Please also see