Whether the long-term patient and renal survival of those diagnosed with lupus nephritis (LN) has improved over the decades is still debated. Eighty-nine patients diagnosed between 1968 and 1990 entered this study and their outcome was evaluated after 20 years. At presentation 54% of patients had class IV LN, 39.3% had renal insufficiency and 59.5% had nephrotic syndrome. Patients were divided into two groups: Group 1 consisted of 30 patients diagnosed between 1968 and 1980; Group 2 consisted of 59 patients diagnosed between 1981 and 1990. In Group 1 patient survival at 20 years was 84% versus 95% in Group 2 (p=0.05). Survivals without end-stage renal failure were respectively 75% and 84% at 20 years (p=0.05). Survivals without severe infection at 20 years were 44% in Group 1 and 66.5% in Group 2 (p=0.02). Survivals without cardiovascular events at 20 years were: 53% in Group 1 and 90% in Group 2 (p=0.005). At presentation, patients in Group 1 had higher serum creatinine (1.96 vs 1.15 mg/dl, p=0.01), higher activity index (8 vs 5.5, p=0.01), lower hematocrit (31% v s6%, p=0.008) and lower serum C4 levels (p=0.04) than Group 2 patients. Patients in Group 1 also received less frequent methylprednisolone pulses (43% vs 81%, p=0.0006). In Italian patients with LN, long-term life expectancy and renal survival progressively improved over the decades, while morbidity progressively declined. An earlier referral and refinement of therapy achieved this goal.
Keywords: Lupus patient survival; immunosuppressive therapy; lupus nephritis; lupus renal survival; methylprednisolone pulses; systemic lupus erythematosus.