Lupus nephritis is inflammation of the kidney that is caused by systemic lupus erythematous (SLE). Also called lupus, SLE is an autoimmune disease. With lupus, the body's immune system targets its own body tissues. Lupus nephritis happens when lupus involves the kidneys. Immune System Related Kidney Disease, funded under NIH clinical trial number NCT00001979, studies patients with autoimmune diseases of the kidney, including lupus nephritis.
There is a tendency for decreased clinical and serological lupus activity following the onset of end-stage renal disease. The pathophysiology of this quiescence remains unclear. Survival of lupus patients on dialysis is no different from that of non-SLE dialysis patients, and is better than that of several other rheumatic diseases. Following renal transplantation, there is no difference in patient or graft survival in lupus versus nonlupus patients.
Two types of blood pressure lowering medications, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), have proven effective in slowing the progression of kidney disease. Many people require two or more medications to control their blood pressure. In addition to an ACE inhibitor or an ARB, a diuretic—a medication that helps the kidneys remove fluid from the body—may be prescribed.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) sponsors several programs aimed at better understanding all types of kidney disease, including lupus nephritis. Abatacept and Cyclophosphamide Combination Therapy for Lupus Nephritis, funded under NIH clinical trial number NCT00774852, compares the addition of the experimental medication abatacept to standard cyclophosphamide therapy with cyclophosphamide therapy alone for treatment of lupus nephritis.