Lupus Nephritis

What is Lupus Nephritis?

 Lupus Nephritis (LN) is a type of kidney disease that can be seen in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) [1].

• SLE is a type of autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system (the body’s defense system) mistakes the body’s own cells or organs as foreign and it attacks them. This can cause great harm to organs like your skin, joints, blood vessels, lungs, brain and/or kidneys [2].

• Lupus nephritis happens when the small blood vessels that filter the blood in the kidneys (also known as glomeruli) are attacked by the immune system causing swelling and/scarring damaging the kidneys. 

• In some people with LN, the kidneys continue to get worse and may eventually stop working completely. If this happens, patients need either dialysis, which uses a machine to clean the blood, or a new kidney (kidney transplant) [1, 2].

How common are SLE and Lupus nephritis?


It is estimated that 1.5 million people in the US and 5 million people worldwide have a form of Lupus. [3]


SLE is much more common in women than in men. Almost 9 out of 10 patients with SLE are women. [4]


LN is one of the most common problems found in patients with SLE. As many as 6 out of 10 adult patients with SLE might have some kind of kidney damage. [4, 5]




  1. Anders HJ, Saxena R, Zhao MH, Parodis I, Salmon JE, Mohan C. Lupus nephritis. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2020 Jan 23;6(1):7. Doi: 10.1038/s41572-019-0141-9. PMID: 31974366.
  2. Pons-Estel GJ, Alarcón GS, Scofield L, Reinlib L, Cooper GS. Understanding the epidemiology and progression of systemic lupus erythematosus. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2010 Feb;39(4):257-68. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2008.10.007. Epub 2009 Jan 10. Review.
  3. GfK Roper. (2012). Lupus Awareness Survey for the Lupus Foundation of America [Executive Summary Report]. Washington, DC.
  4. Hong WANG, Yi-le REN, Jun CHANG, Luo GU, Ling-Yun SUN. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prevalence of Biopsy-Proven Lupus Nephritis. Arch Rheumatol. 2018 Mar; 33(1): 17–25. Published online 2017 Jul 25. doi: 10.5606/ArchRheumatol.2017.6127
  5. Liu CC, Kao AH, Manzi S, Ahearn JM. Biomarkers in systemic lupus erythematosus: challenges and prospects for the future. Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease. 2013;5(4):210–233
  6. Madhok R. Systemic lupus erythematosus: lupus nephritis. BMJ Clin Evid. 2015;2015:1123. Published 2015 Dec 18.
  7. Hahn BH, McMahon MA, Wilkinson A, et al. American College of Rheumatology guidelines for screening, treatment, and management of lupus nephritis. Arthritis Care Res. 2012;64(6):797-808.
  8. Emily J. Sutton, Julie E. Davidson, Ian N. Bruce. The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) damage index: A systematic literature review. Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, Volume 43, Issue 3, 2013, Pages 352-361. ISSN 0049-0172. 

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