High Burden of Premature Arteriosclerosis on Renal Biopsy Results in Incident Lupus Nephritis

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2021 Mar;73(3):394-401. doi: 10.1002/acr.24138.


Objective: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is accelerated in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and lupus nephritis (LN). Despite the literature suggesting that renal arteriosclerosis predicts CVD in other glomerulonephritis diseases, arteriosclerosis grading and reporting might be particularly overlooked in LN biopsies. Our objective was to examine the burden of renal arteriosclerosis in LN and to assess whether arteriosclerosis is underreported in LN biopsies.

Methods: We identified all patients with LN undergoing kidney biopsy between 1994 and 2017 at an academic center. We interpreted LN biopsy reports to classify the Banff categories of absent, mild, moderate, or severe renal arteriosclerosis. The prevalence of renal arteriosclerosis was compared with the prevalence published for age-matched healthy peers, and predictors of arteriosclerosis were examined. We overread biopsies for Banff renal arteriosclerosis grading and compared to pathology reports.

Results: Among 189 incident patients with LN, renal arteriosclerosis prevalence was 2 decades earlier compared to their healthy peers, affecting 40% of patients ages 31-39 years with LN compared to 44% of healthy peers ages 50-59 years. A multivariable analysis showed a 3-fold higher odds of renal arteriosclerosis in patients ages ≥30 years with LN. LN chronicity on biopsy results predicted a 4-fold higher odds of renal arteriosclerosis. The overreads determined that 50% of standard LN biopsy reports missed reporting the presence or absence of renal arteriosclerosis.

Conclusion: Renal arteriosclerosis is accelerated by 2 decades in patients with LN compared to their healthy peers and is overlooked by pathologists in half of the routine biopsy reports. We propose incorporating Banff renal arteriosclerosis grading in all LN biopsy reports.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Biopsy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lupus Nephritis / epidemiology*
  • Lupus Nephritis / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Renal Artery / pathology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology
  • Young Adult