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Therapy of diffuse or focal proliferative lupus nephritis

INTRODUCTION

The optimal treatment of lupus nephritis (LN) varies with the type of renal histology that is present in renal biopsy specimens. Immunosuppressive therapy is indicated in the great majority of patients with diffuse or focal proliferative LN (class III or IV LN) and in some selected patients with membranous LN (class V LN), including those with a severe nephrotic syndrome, an elevated serum creatinine, and/or associated proliferative disease [1-3]. Immunosuppressive therapy is usually not indicated for minimal mesangial and mesangial proliferative LN. (See "Diagnosis and classification of renal disease in systemic lupus erythematosus", section on 'Classification' and "Clinical features and therapy of membranous lupus nephritis".)

Induction and maintenance immunosuppressive therapy of proliferative LN, as well as nonimmunosuppressive therapies, will be reviewed here. The treatment of resistant or relapsing proliferative LN and issues related to end-stage LN are presented separately. (See "Therapy of resistant or relapsing diffuse or focal proliferative lupus nephritis" and "End-stage renal disease due to lupus nephritis".)

RISK FACTORS FOR PROGRESSION

Even with aggressive therapy, some patients with proliferative lupus nephritis (LN) will have a progressive decline in renal function leading to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Clinical risk factors for progression, evident at the time of initial presentation, include an elevated serum creatinine, hypertension, nephrotic range proteinuria, anemia with a hematocrit below 26 percent, and black and Hispanic race and ethnicity [4-7]. (See 'Race and ethnicity' below.)

The severity of acute and chronic tubulointerstitial disease and interstitial inflammation as well as the presence of cellular crescents also correlate with long-term prognosis in LN, as they do in many other chronic progressive glomerular diseases [5,6,8,9]. (See "Secondary factors and progression of chronic kidney disease", section on 'Tubulointerstitial fibrosis'.)

Risk factors for progression that become evident after initial presentation and during therapy are the frequency and severity of relapses (renal flares) and the degree to which the abnormal features of renal involvement are controlled (complete or partial remission of proteinuria, hematuria, and the severity of azotemia). (See 'Failure to achieve clinical remission' below.)

                                       

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Literature review current through: Nov 2014. | This topic last updated: Nov 24, 2014.
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