Chronic kidney disease in patients with childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus

Pediatr Nephrol. 2022 Nov 21. doi: 10.1007/s00467-022-05811-y. Online ahead of print.


Background: Lupus nephritis (LN) is a frequent manifestation of childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (cSLE) with a potential risk for kidney failure and poor outcomes. This study aimed to evaluate stages III, IV, and V of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and investigate risk factors for CKD in cSLE patients.

Methods: We performed a nationwide observational cohort study in 27 pediatric rheumatology centers, including medical charts of 1528 cSLE patients. Data were collected at cSLE diagnosis, during follow-up, and at last visit or death, between September 2016 and May 2019.

Results: Of 1077 patients with LN, 59 (5.4%) presented with CKD, 36/59 (61%) needed dialysis, and 7/59 (11.8%) were submitted for kidney transplantation. After Bonferroni's correction for multiple comparisons (p < 0.0013), determinants associated with CKD were higher age at last visit, urinary biomarker abnormalities, neuropsychiatric involvement, higher scores of disease activity at last visit and damage index, and more frequent use of methylprednisolone, cyclosporine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab. In the regression model analysis, arterial hypertension (HR = 15.42, 95% CI = 6.12-38.83, p ≤ 0.001) and biopsy-proven proliferative nephritis (HR = 2.83, 95%CI = 1.70-4.72, p ≤ 0.001) increased the risk of CKD, while children using antimalarials had 71.0% lower CKD risk ((1.00-0.29) × 100%) than children not using them. The Kaplan-Meier comparison showed lower survival in cSLE patients with biopsy-proven proliferative nephritis (p = 0.02) and CKD (p ≤ 0.001).

Conclusions: A small number of patients manifested CKD; however, frequencies of dialysis and kidney transplantation were relevant. This study reveals that patients with cSLE with hypertension, proliferative nephritis, and absence of use of antimalarials exhibited higher hazard rates of progression to CKD. A higher resolution version of the Graphical abstract is available as Supplementary information.

Keywords: Adolescent; Childhood; Childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus; Chronic kidney disease; Lupus nephritis; Systemic lupus erythematosus.