Increased blood pressure
About Lupus Nephritis
Lupus nephritis is not as uncommon as you may think, and can lead to serious complications if left untreated.Resources
The Role of SLE
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or lupus is a chronic, complex, and often disabling autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system (which fights off bacteria and viruses) attacks the body’s own cells, tissues, and organs. Lupus can affect many parts of the body including the joints, skin, brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys. When it affects the kidneys, it’s called lupus nephritis.
What is lupus nephritis (LN)?
Lupus nephritis is a rare disease—but it's one of the most common and serious complications of lupus, affecting about 50% of people living with it. Lupus nephritis can lead to irreversible kidney damage or even kidney failure—which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
It's critically important to catch lupus nephritis early. Early diagnosis and treatment may help prevent irreversible kidney damage and other serious complications.
Know your risks–complications of lupus nephritis include:
Includes risk of heart attacks and strokes
Chronic kidney disease
Happens when the kidneys are slowly damaged over time and can't filter blood the way they should
Scarring of the kidneys
Permanent damage that results from the disease progressing
Kidney failure, also known as end‑stage kidney disease (ESKD) or end‑stage renal disease (ESRD)
Up to 30% of people who have lupus nephritis will experience kidney failure
Kidney function is measured by glomerular filtration rate (GFR). As kidney disease worsens, the number goes down. A GFR of 60 or above is normal; any lower may indicate kidney disease. If your GFR reaches 15 or lower, that may mean kidney failure which can result in the need for dialysis or a transplant
Treatment and/or steroid-related complications
High doses of steroids may increase the risk for adverse events, including irreversible organ damage
Every person and every situation is different. It's important to speak with a doctor about your risk and a treatment plan that may be appropriate for you.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent irreversible kidney damage and other serious complications.
diagnosed with lupus nephritis in 2010
"There’s still no cure for lupus nephritis, this is really important to know. That’s why active surveillance and early detection is key, along with self-management. Now is the time to check in on your kidney health."
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Who is affected?
Lupus nephritis is one of the most common complications of lupus. In fact, about 1 in 3 people are diagnosed with it at the time of their lupus diagnosis, and about half of people with lupus may go on to develop it later. Even though lupus nephritis typically begins in people around 20-30 years of age, the number of people that get diagnosed each year tends to continue to increase with age. As far as gender, it's more common among women, but tends to affect men more severely.
Lupus nephritis is more common in some racial and ethnic groups than others
4x more likely for people of African and Asian descentα
2x more likely for Hispanic and Native peoplesα
αCompared to non-Hispanic white people
Start the discussion early.
Staying on top of your appointments and getting the most out of your time with your doctor is crucial to catching lupus nephritis as early as possible. Use this guide to help ensure you're asking the right questions.Download guide
Signs, symptoms, and classes of lupus nephritis
Symptoms of lupus nephritis can be subtle, inconsistent, or hard to recognize—that's why frequent testing is so important. See the types of tests used to diagnose LN
Lupus nephritis is a serious disease with severe complications. Even if you don't see symptoms, you may have permanent kidney damage. That's why it's important to prioritize regular doctor visits—even when symptoms are subtle or unnoticeable. Routine testing by a doctor is key to helping you stay ahead of potential long-term damage and complications.
Clinical signs that require testing include:
High levels of protein in the urine (known as proteinuria) that show up in a clinical laboratory urine test
Blood in the urine (known as hematuria)
Increased blood pressure
Inflammation or scarring of the kidneys, as confirmed through a kidney biopsy
Unbalanced levels of electrolytes, or minerals in the body, measured through a blood test
Slower rate of blood filtration through the kidneys, known as glomerular filtration rate, measured through a blood test
Increase in creatinine, a waste product that results from the normal breakdown of muscles, measured through a blood test
The key feature of lupus nephritis
Higher than normal levels of protein in the urine (>0.5 grams per day), a condition known as proteinuria.
Classes of lupus nephritis
A rheumatologist or nephrologist will use the results of a kidney biopsy to figure out how lupus nephritis has affected the kidneys. This information can also help doctors decide on an appropriate treatment plan.
Minimal mesangial lupus nephritis
Minimal kidney involvement
Mesangial proliferative lupus nephritis
Some evidence of inflammation in limited areas of the kidneys
Focal lupus nephritis
Involvement of less than half of the network of small blood vessels in the kidneys
Diffuse proliferative nephritis
Involvement of more than half of the network of small blood vessels in the kidneys
Membranous lupus nephritis
Characterized by immune deposits found around the network of small blood vessels
Different from other forms of lupus nephritis
Advanced sclerotic lupus nephritis
Damage to more than 90% of the network of small blood vessels in the kidneys
Diagnosed with lupus nephritis in 1994
"The newly diagnosed need to know it is possible to live a full, happy, and meaningful life with lupus nephritis. It is not a death sentence."
Sign up to receive your ALL IN® Lupus Nephritis Awareness Kit.
The kit includes resources to help people living with lupus or lupus nephritis better understand and manage the disease.Get Your Kit
Want to learn more about your diagnosis?
This discussion guide includes helpful questions to ask at your next doctor's appointment.Download guide