Lupus Nephritis and Pregnancy: Concerns and Management

Semin Nephrol. 2017 Jul;37(4):347-353. doi: 10.1016/j.semnephrol.2017.05.006.


Pregnancy associated with lupus, especially lupus nephritis, is often fraught with concern for both the mother and fetus. Thus, it is paramount that care begins preconception so that proper planning in terms of optimizing the medical regimen, discontinuation of fetotoxic agents, and treatment of active disease can occur. It is well known that active nephritis at the time of conception is associated with poor outcomes. Even with quiescent disease, recent data indicate that being lupus anticoagulant-positive, nonwhite or Hispanic, and using antihypertensive medications were all predictors of worse pregnancy outcomes. Further, prior lupus nephritis also predicts higher rates of preeclampsia and HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count) syndrome. Differentiating lupus nephritis from preeclampsia often presents as a conundrum, but lupus nephritis can be confirmed by the presence of decreasing complement levels and increasing double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) antibody levels in addition to new onset hypertension and proteinuria. We hope that the more mechanistic approach of measuring angiogenic markers, which are diagnostic for preeclampsia, will be the standard of care in the future. Women with lupus and prior lupus nephritis can have successful pregnancies, but outcomes are dependent on "the art of planning" as well as close communication between the obstetrician, the nephrologist, and the rheumatologist.

Keywords: Lupus nephritis; preeclampsia; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Nephritis / diagnosis*
  • Lupus Nephritis / drug therapy*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / diagnosis*
  • Preconception Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Pregnancy, High-Risk
  • Symptom Flare Up