Lupus Nephritis: A Serious Rare Disease with High Disease Burden

Lupus nephritis is a serious and common inflammation of the kidneys caused by Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or lupus). If you have lupus, you may be at risk for developing lupus nephritis. While lupus nephritis itself is rare among the general population, it may be more common than you think, impacting ~100K patients in the U.S., about one-third of adults have lupus nephritis at diagnosis of lupus and about 1 out of 2 people with lupus may develop lupus nephritis over time.

Who Develops LN

Who develops LN:

  • About 50% of people with Lupus will go on to develop LN
  • More common in women
  • Up to 135,000 people living with LN in the U.S.

How does lupus nephritis affect the kidneys?

Your kidneys play a crucial role in keeping your body healthy by removing toxic waste and excess fluid from your body through urine. If you have lupus nephritis, it means that your kidneys cannot function normally to keep you healthy. Lupus nephritis may get worse over time and could lead to kidney failure, which is serious but treatable. If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain your health.  

What are the signs and symptoms of lupus nephritis? 

Kidney problems can start around the same time that lupus symptoms appear, but in the early stages of lupus nephritis there are very few signs that anything is wrong. About one-third of people have lupus nephritis when they are diagnosed with lupus and about half of people with lupus will go on to develop the condition. Even though they may be hard to notice, there are a few common symptoms to look out for, including fatigue, weight gain, swelling of legs, feet, or ankles, and foamy or frothy urine. 

How do I know if I have lupus nephritis? 

The best approach to figuring out if you have lupus nephritis is to talk to your doctor, even if you don’t have symptoms. A diagnosis is usually made by a nephrologist or a rheumatologist and generally requires a kidney biopsy. The three most common tests used to diagnose lupus nephritis are: a urine test, blood test, and a kidney biopsy.

How is lupus nephritis treated?

Treatment for lupus nephritis is aimed at controlling kidney inflammation, helping preserve kidney health, and preventing flare-ups of symptoms. Ask your doctor about what treatment plan is right for you. The types of treatments that you are prescribed by your doctor may depend on a number of factors, including the stage of your condition. Early diagnosis and treatment may help prevent long-term kidney damage.