Ten common mistakes in the management of lupus nephritis

Am J Kidney Dis. 2014 Apr;63(4):667-76. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2013.10.056. Epub 2013 Dec 12.


Management of patients with lupus nephritis can be complex and challenging. We suggest that there are some widely held misconceptions about lupus, and unfortunately, these underpin the treatment of many patients. There is little evidence to support the common assumption that intravenous pulse cyclophosphamide is the best treatment for lupus nephritis. Although there is much focus on which immunosuppressive agent to use, too little attention is paid to the proper dose and duration of corticosteroids and concomitant therapy with antimalarial agents. Many clinicians reflexively perform kidney biopsies when these biopsies may be high risk and not influence therapy. There is little emphasis on or awareness of nonadherence to therapy, which is an underappreciated cause of treatment resistance. Resolution of proteinuria and hematuria can take a long time, and immunotherapy should not be intensified based on urine sediment alone. Furthermore, the intensity of the immunosuppression must be considered in the context of lupus nephritis class and duration of kidney damage. Finally, clinicians are aware of the risks of pregnancy in the face of active lupus, but assume that their patients also are aware of this and forget to discuss this with them. With a combined experience of more than 50 years in managing children and adults with lupus, we offer our impression of recurrent mistakes in the management of lupus in general, with a focus on treatment of lupus nephritis.

Keywords: Antimalarial agents and nonadherence; azathioprine; cyclophosphamide; lupus nephritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antimalarials / administration & dosage
  • Azathioprine / administration & dosage
  • Bone Density
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Nephritis / diagnosis
  • Lupus Nephritis / pathology
  • Lupus Nephritis / therapy*
  • Mycophenolic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Mycophenolic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pneumocystis Infections / drug therapy
  • Pneumocystis carinii
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Renal Dialysis


  • Antimalarials
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Mycophenolic Acid
  • Azathioprine