High incidence of proliferative and membranous nephritis in SLE patients with low proteinuria in the Accelerating Medicines Partnership

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2022 Nov 2;61(11):4335-4343. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keac067.


Objective: Delayed detection of LN associates with worse outcomes. There are conflicting recommendations regarding a threshold level of proteinuria at which biopsy will likely yield actionable management. This study addressed the association of urine protein:creatinine ratios (UPCR) with clinical characteristics and investigated the incidence of proliferative and membranous histology in patients with a UPCR between 0.5 and 1.

Methods: A total of 275 SLE patients (113 first biopsy, 162 repeat) were enrolled in the multicentre multi-ethnic/racial Accelerating Medicines Partnership across 15 US sites at the time of a clinically indicated renal biopsy. Patients were followed for 1 year.

Results: At biopsy, 54 patients had UPCR <1 and 221 had UPCR ≥1. Independent of UPCR or biopsy number, a majority (92%) of patients had class III, IV, V or mixed histology. Moreover, patients with UPCR <1 and class III, IV, V, or mixed had a median activity index of 4.5 and chronicity index of 3, yet 39% of these patients had an inactive sediment. Neither anti-dsDNA nor low complement distinguished class I or II from III, IV, V or mixed in patients with UPCR <1. Of 29 patients with baseline UPCR <1 and class III, IV, V or mixed, 23 (79%) had a UPCR <0.5 at 1 year.

Conclusion: In this prospective study, three-quarters of patients with UPCR <1 had histology showing class III, IV, V or mixed with accompanying activity and chronicity despite an inactive sediment or normal serologies. These data support renal biopsy at thresholds lower than a UPCR of 1.

Keywords: diagnosis; lupus nephritis; systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Lupus Nephritis*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Proteinuria / diagnosis