Obstetric nephrology: lupus and lupus nephritis in pregnancy

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2012 Dec;7(12):2089-99. doi: 10.2215/CJN.12441211. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Abstract

SLE is a multi-organ autoimmune disease that affects women of childbearing age. Renal involvement in the form of either active lupus nephritis (LN) at the time of conception, or a LN new onset or flare during pregnancy increases the risks of preterm delivery, pre-eclampsia, maternal mortality, fetal/neonatal demise, and intrauterine growth restriction. Consequently, current recommendations advise that the affected woman achieve a stable remission of her renal disease for at least 6 months before conception. Hormonal and immune system changes in pregnancy may affect disease activity and progression, and published evidence suggests that there is an increased risk for a LN flare during pregnancy. The major goal of immunosuppressive therapy in pregnancy is control of disease activity with medications that are relatively safe for a growing fetus. Therefore, the use of mycophenolate mofetil, due to increasing evidence supporting its teratogenicity, is contraindicated during pregnancy. Worsening proteinuria, which commonly occurs in proteinuric renal diseases toward the end of pregnancy, should be differentiated from a LN flare and/or pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy-specific condition clinically characterized by hypertension and proteinuria. These considerations present challenges that underscore the importance of a multidisciplinary team approach when caring for these patients, including a nephrologist, rheumatologist, and obstetrician who have experience with these pregnancy-related complications. This review discusses the pathogenesis, maternal and fetal risks, and management pertinent to SLE patients with new onset or a history of LN predating pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / blood
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy*
  • Lupus Nephritis / drug therapy
  • Preconception Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Care

Substances

  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • Anticoagulants
  • Immunosuppressive Agents