Lupus Nephritis

What is Lupus Nephritis?

Lupus Nephritis is a renal inflammation caused by systemic lupus erythematosus—known as SLE or Lupus—is a chronic disease where the immune system attacks its own healthy organs and tissues, thus causing inflammation in many different body systems, joint pain, fatigue, and various other symptoms.

While the exact cause is unknown, doctors believe that lupus can be caused by genetic mutations, hormone fluctuations, and environmental factors. One complication that is caused by lupus is a kidney disease called Lupus nephritis, or specific inflammation in the kidneys. There are six classes of lupus nephritis, each with its own symptoms and treatments. Class I cases are characterized by inflammation of the kidney’s tiny blood vessels, while class VI cases are more advanced and there is an irregular hardening and scarring of tissue. A doctor needs to perform a biopsy to confirm which class a patient may have.

What are the Symptoms of Lupus Nephritis?

Symptoms for lupus nephritis can appear at the same time as SLE symptoms or soon after. Some signs include edema, joint or muscle pain, fevers, face rashes, foamy urine, and increased blood pressure

How is Lupus Nephritis Treated?

If a person has already been diagnosed with lupus, he or she may not need a renal biopsy since preventative treatments and medications may already be in effect, such as a specific diet and anti-inflammatories. However, a biopsy is often recommended since it can narrow down the class of the lupus nephritis and the required course of treatment.

Lupus nephritis is usually treated with predinosone for a few months, and then the patient will slowly wean off the medication. If the predinosone isn’t enough, a doctor may prescribe an immunosuppresive drug—like corticosteroids—which will help reduce excessive inflammation. While there are mild cases of lupus nephritis, it can turn into kidney failure if not treated. While a kidney transplant can be an option for these serious cases, it is not always possible since those with extremely bad lupus flare-ups will have an immune system that attacks the transplant.

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Last Reviewed:
October 06, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017