Objective: To provide an overview of the course of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) following the onset of end-stage lupus nephropathy, regarding clinical and serological manifestations, survival on dialysis, and renal transplant outcomes.
Methods: A review of the pertinent literature, identified by a comprehensive Grateful Med search, was performed.
Results: There is a tendency for decreased clinical and serological lupus activity following the onset of end-stage renal disease. The pathophysiology of this quiescence remains unclear. Survival of lupus patients on dialysis is no different from that of non-SLE dialysis patients, and is better than that of several other rheumatic diseases. Following renal transplantation, there is no difference in patient or graft survival in lupus versus nonlupus patients. Like their nonlupus counterparts, SLE transplant patients do better with living relative grafts and/or regimens containing cyclosporin A. Transplantation is not recommended within 3 months of the initiation of dialysis to allow possible recovery from the acute renal failure. Transplantation during an acute exacerbation of SLE is controversial, and may increase the risk of poor outcomes. Recurrence of lupus in transplanted allografts, often with the same histopathology as in the native kidney, occurs at a rate (2.7% to 3.8%) comparable to that for all allograft transplant failures (2% to 4%).
Conclusions: End-stage lupus nephropathy patients require less medication owing to decreased disease activity. They are good candidates for dialysis and renal transplantation, with survival and recurrence rates no different from those of other patients with end-stage renal disease.