Lupus Nephritis - What Is Lupus Nephritis?

Lupus nephritis is an inflammation of the kidney that occurs as a result of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Systemic lupus erythematosus, or simply lupus, is a disease of the immune system. SLE typically affects the skin, joints, kidneys, and brain.

Causes of SLE are not fully understood. However, many factors may play a role, including
•gender—SLE is more common in women than men

•heredity—a gene passed down by a parent



•environmental causes
What are the symptoms of lupus nephritis?

Signs and symptoms of lupus nephritis may include
•weight gain

•high blood pressure

•dark urine

•swelling around the eyes, legs, ankles, or fingers.
Some people with SLE have no obvious symptoms of kidney disease, which must be diagnosed by blood and urine tests.

How is lupus nephritis diagnosed?

In addition to learning about your symptoms, family history and medical history, your doctor may also perform tests to aid in the diagnosis. Diagnosis may require urine and blood tests as well as a kidney biopsy.
•Urine test: Blood or protein in the urine is a sign of kidney damage.

•Blood test: 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 score.

•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 of lupus nephritis 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).

You may need one or more medicines to control your blood pressure.

Your doctor may recommend that you limit protein, sodium, and potassium intake.

See Also:

Source: Adapted from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). NIDDK is a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH Publication No. 07–4622, June 2007. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/Kudiseases/pubs/lupusnephritis/index.htm

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