The main goal in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is to achieve remission, as this has a major impact on patient and renal survival. Furthermore, early treatment success has been shown to improve long-term prognosis. Treatment in severe SLE, especially in lupus nephritis, has traditionally been a standardized schematic therapy with cyclophosphamide and prednisolone followed by azathioprine. However, animal and human studies have increased our pathogenetic knowledge of this autoimmune disease with emerging new treatment targets. New and future therapeutic approaches are focused on B-cell depletion, T-cell downregulation and co-stimulatory blockade, cytokine inhibition, or the modulation of complement. Many different biological agents have been used in recent and ongoing studies, but up to now breakthroughs emerging from randomized Phase III trials have been rare. However, the future remains exciting with progress towards safe treatments with which to control the disease in the long run.
Keywords: B-cell depletion; co-stimulatory blockade; cytokine inhibition; lupus nephritis; monoclonal antibodies; systemic lupus erythematosus.