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Lupus Nephritis

Inflammation of the kidneys caused by an autoimmune disease called systemic lupus erythematosus. The condition can cause hematuria and proteinuria, and it may progress to end-stage renal disease.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Lupus Nephritis

Lupus nephritis is kidney inflammation caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus). SLE is an autoimmune disease—a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the body's own cells and organs. Up to 60 percent of people with SLE are diagnosed with lupus nephritis, which can lead to significant illness and even death.

The symptoms of lupus nephritis may include high blood pressure, foamy urine, and edema—swelling, usually in the legs, feet, or ankles and less often in the hands or face.

Kidney problems often develop at the same time or shortly after lupus symptoms appear and can include

  • joint pain or swelling
  • muscle pain
  • fever with no cause
  • red rashes, often on the face, which are also called butterfly rashes because of their shape

Read more about Lupus Nephritis NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Mycophenolate mofetil for proliferative lupus nephritis: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Ou S T, Zhong L C, Du X, Huang S M, Liu Q, Zhao A J, Chen Z J.  Mycophenolate mofetil for proliferative lupus nephritis: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2006; 6(10): 712-720

Meta-analysis of mycophenolate mofetil versus cyclophosphamide for diffuse proliferative lupus nephritis

Bibliographic details: Chen M, Sun L, Zhao J, Zeng K, Zhou Z.  Meta-analysis of mycophenolate mofetil versus cyclophosphamide for diffuse proliferative lupus nephritis. Journal of Xi'an Jiaotong University (Medical Sciences)  2008; 29(5): 549-555

Mycophenolate mofetil versus cyclophosphamide in induction therapy for lupus nephritis: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Li YF, Yu Q, Yu WL, Zou YL, Zhao L, Guo Y.  Mycophenolate mofetil versus cyclophosphamide in induction therapy for lupus nephritis: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2011; 11(7): 826-834 Available from: http://www.cjebm.org.cn/oa/DArticle.aspx?type=view&id=201107016

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Summaries for consumers

Treatment for people with lupus nephritis

Lupus nephritis is an inflammatory condition affecting the kidneys which is caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease that is more common among women. About half of all people with SLE develop lupus nephritis, and of these about 1/10 experience chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. Treatment aims to delay disease progression and achieve remission by stabilising and improving kidney function and minimising side effects. For about the past 30 years, standard treatment for lupus nephritis has focused on a combination of cyclophosphamide (an alkylating agent) and corticosteroids.

Terms to know

Autoimmune Disease
Disease that results when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues. Examples include multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Edema
Swelling caused by excess fluid in body tissues.
Hematuria
Blood in the urine.
Kidney
One of a pair of organs in the abdomen. The kidneys remove waste and extra water from the blood (as urine) and help keep chemicals (such as sodium, potassium, and calcium) balanced in the body. The kidneys also make hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells.
Proteinuria
A condition in which the urine contains large amounts of protein, a sign that the kidneys are not working properly.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus, SLE)
A chronic, inflammatory, connective tissue disease that can affect the joints and many organs, including the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, and nervous system. It can cause many different symptoms; however, not everyone with systemic lupus erythematosus has all of the symptoms. Also called lupus and SLE.

More about Lupus Nephritis

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Other terms to know: See all 6
Autoimmune Disease, Edema, Hematuria

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