The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) applauds our colleagues at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) for issuing new guidelines to help healthcare professionals screen, diagnose and treat lupus nephritis, a type of kidney disease associated with lupus. Available on the ACR website, the new guidelines are just published in the April 2012 issue of Arthritis Care & Research.
An estimated one third of people with lupus are affected by lupus nephritis – a serious consequence of lupus in which the immune system attacks the kidneys. While nine out of 10 people with lupus are women, men with the disease are more prone to lupus nephritis.
The kidneys keep the balance of fluids in the body at the right levels, taking out waste and extra water from the blood and sending these out of the body through urine. The kidneys also help to control hormone levels and the amount of pressure in the blood vessels. If lupus attacks the kidneys, these functions are impeded and harmful toxins can start to build up in the blood, causing serious damage.
Lupus Nephritis Guidelines Codify Diagnosis and Treatment
The 2012 lupus nephritis guidelines were formulated through a thorough review by three panels of researchers of the medical literature from 1966 through 2010 for all evidence pertaining to "lupus kidney disease".
"It has been over a decade since guidelines for treatment of lupus nephritis were published, and much has changed since with new immunosuppressive and antihypertensive drugs as well as new therapeutics that work directly to reduce loss of kidney function," commented Betty Diamond, MD, Chief, Autoimmune Disease Center, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, North Shore-LIJ Health System and Advisor-at-Large of the LRI Scientific Advisory Board. "It is very important that physicians have guidelines to help them make therapeutic decisions and to ensure that certain helpful strategies are not overlooked. However, the ultimate therapeutic plan will still be determined case by case by the patient and their physician."
The Lupus Research Institute is also strongly committed to improving early diagnosis and treatment of lupus nephritis by funding innovative research on the mechanisms of kidney damage and novel ways to monitor lupus nephritis; read more on LRI grants completed or in progress focusing on lupus nephritis. Most recently, discoveries from LRI-funded studies include biomarkers to diagnose and assess lupus nephritis while avoiding the need for invasive surgical biopsy. A new LRI study by Dr. Janusz Kabarowski, University of Alabama, Birmingham investigates the possibility of harnessing the anti-inflammatory properties of high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol HDL) to protect the heart and blood vessels, and stem the immune system's attack on other vital organs including the kidneys.
"Because so many of our patients suffer from kidney disease, LRI scientific studies in the field of lupus nephritis are robust," noted LRI President Margaret Dowd. "We will support the ACR's efforts to educate patients and professionals on the need for early screening for lupus kidney disease when the condition is most treatable."