Update on the treatment of lupus nephritis

Kidney Int. 2006 Oct;70(8):1403-12. doi: 10.1038/sj.ki.5001777. Epub 2006 Aug 23.


Lupus nephritis (LN) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Although the use of aggressive immunosuppression has improved both patient and renal survival over the past several decades, the optimal treatment of LN remains challenging. Improved outcomes have come at the expense of significant adverse effects owing to therapy. Moreover with long-term survival, the chronic adverse effects of effective therapies including risk of malignancy, atherosclerosis, infertility, and bone disease all become more important. Finally, some patients fail to achieve remission with standard cytotoxic therapy and others relapse when therapy is reduced. For these reasons, recent clinical trials have attempted to define alternate treatment protocols that appear to be efficacious in achieving and maintaining remission, but with less toxicity than standard regimens. This paper discusses established and newer treatment options for patients with proliferative and membranous LN, with an emphasis on the results of these recent clinical trials. We also review the experimental and human data regarding some of the novel targeted forms of therapy that are under investigation and in different phases of clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / physiology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lupus Nephritis / drug therapy*
  • Lupus Nephritis / etiology
  • Lupus Nephritis / immunology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Immunosuppressive Agents