Renoprotective strategies in lupus nephritis: beyond immunosuppression

Lupus. 2013 Oct;22(12):1267-73. doi: 10.1177/0961203313505927.


Lupus nephritis needs to be diagnosed promptly and treated specifically with appropriate immunosuppression. However, all patients with lupus nephritis have by definition chronic kidney disease (CKD) as they will have proteinuria with varying degrees of renal impairment. CKD requires careful additional management, not only to reduce the risk of progression to end-stage renal disease but also because it is probably the strongest risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. This review focuses on the evidence underscoring strategies to prevent progression of CKD beyond the "simple" treatment of the lupus nephritis. The strategies include immaculate control of blood pressure, inhibition of the renin-angiotensin system to reduce blood pressure and proteinuria, and the benefits of lifestyle modifications such as tackling smoking, obesity and exercise. We also review the literature on control of dyslipidaemias which, although clearly of cardiovascular benefit, provide less compelling data for offering renoprotection. We touch on the emerging area of the importance of controlling urate levels in protecting against progressive renal impairment. Finally, there is a reminder about the importance of considering the nephrotoxicity of all medications prescribed for patients with lupus nephritis - above all the need to avoid the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Overall, the theme is that there is much more to the management of patients with lupus nephritis than "just" the nephritis - a multidisciplinary approach involving nephrologists as well as rheumatologists is more likely to provide the appropriate wider care required for all patients with lupus nephritis.

Keywords: Renal lupus; cardiovascular disease; nephritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure
  • Disease Progression
  • Dyslipidemias / complications
  • Dyslipidemias / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / methods
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / prevention & control*
  • Life Style
  • Lupus Nephritis / complications
  • Lupus Nephritis / diagnosis
  • Lupus Nephritis / therapy*
  • Proteinuria / etiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / etiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy*
  • Uric Acid / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Uric Acid