Repeat renal biopsy in lupus nephritis: a change in histological pattern is common

Am J Nephrol. 2011;34(3):220-5. doi: 10.1159/000330356. Epub 2011 Jul 23.


Background: The role of longitudinal change in sequential renal biopsies of lupus nephritis (LN) patient remains elusive.

Methods: Clinical and pathological documents of 156 LN patients with repeat renal biopsies (412 times) were collected from a database.

Results: The percent of transformation of the biopsy class from reference biopsies to repeat biopsies was 75%. For the reference biopsies that showed pure proliferative, pure membranous, and mixed nephritis, the histological pattern in the repeat biopsies changed in 57.8, 50.0, and 60.4%, respectively. As compared to reference biopsy, repeat biopsy had a higher degree of tubulointerstitial scarring (p < 0.001), chronicity index (p < 0.001) and serum creatinine (p < 0.001). In addition, baseline serum creatinine was significantly lower (p = 0.004), and the time lapse between the two biopsies was significantly longer (p < 0.001) amongst patients who had a change in the histological pattern upon repeat renal biopsy than those whose histological pattern remained the same.

Conclusion: The present study suggests that a change in the histological class of LN is common in systemic lupus erythematosus patients with lupus flare, and the histology during disease flare could not be predicted by baseline clinical, biochemical, or pathological parameters. Our results indicate that when there is lupus flare with renal involvement, repeat renal biopsy is often necessary to guide the treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Nephritis / pathology*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors