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Understanding lupus nephritis: diagnosis, management, and treatment options

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Chi Chiu MokDepartment of Medicine, Tuen Mun Hospital and Center for Assessment and Treatment of Rheumatic Diseases, Pok Oi Hospital, Hong Kong, ChinaAbstract: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) predominantly affects women in their reproductive years. Renal disease (glomerulonephritis) is one of the most frequent and serious manifestations of SLE. Of the various histological types of lupus glomerulonephritis, diffuse proliferative nephritis carries the worst prognosis. Combined with high-dose prednisone, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) has emerged as a first-line immunosuppressive treatment, although data regarding the efficacy of MMF on the long-term preservation of renal function are forthcoming. Cyclophosphamide is reserved for more severe forms of lupus nephritis, such as crescentic glomerulonephritis with rapidly deteriorating renal function, patients with significant renal function impairment at presentation, and refractory renal disease. Evidence for the calcineurin inhibitors in the treatment of lupus nephritis is weaker, and it concerns patients who are intolerant or recalcitrant to other agents. While further controlled trials are mandatory, B cell modulation therapies, such as rituximab, belimumab and epratuzumab are confined to refractory disease. Non-immunosuppressive measures, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, vigorous blood pressure control, prevention and treatment of hyperlipidemia and osteoporosis, are equally important.Keywords: lupus, nephritis, nephropathy, glomerulonephritis, treatment, therapy, women

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