High Protein Levels Found in Urine May Predict Lupus Nephritis

Last updated: January 2023

Lupus nephritis is an inflammation of the kidneys. It occurs as a result of lupus, an autoimmune disease. When you have an autoimmune disease, your body's immune system attacks your own healthy tissue. Lupus nephritis can lead to kidney damage and kidney failure.1

Recent research has found that high protein levels in urine may predict lupus nephritis. The study was presented at ACR Convergence 2022, the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting. The study's results suggest that 50 percent of people with high protein levels in their urine were more likely to develop lupus nephritis.2

As with most scientific studies, further research will be needed to confirm the results. But these early findings are still important. This study will help experts understand what causes lupus nephritis to develop.3

Using this information may help doctors identify people at risk for lupus nephritis. And those who are identified early could receive early treatment. If people with lupus nephritis are identified early enough, doctors may be able to help delay the onset of damage to their kidneys or prevent it completely.3

What are the symptoms of lupus nephritis?

The symptoms of lupus nephritis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. In some cases, lupus nephritis can cause kidney damage and kidney failure. People with lupus nephritis may experience no symptoms at all. Or they may experience:1

Pregnancy can cause some of the same symptoms as lupus nephritis, like swollen feet and ankles. If you have any of these symptoms during pregnancy, make an appointment to go see your doctor. They can diagnose you to see whether you have lupus nephritis.1

How is lupus nephritis diagnosed?

There is no 1 test for lupus nephritis. Your doctor will likely conduct a physical exam, evaluate your current medical condition, and order a combination of tests to confirm the diagnosis. The tests may include a:1

  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Kidney biopsy (taking a small tissue sample to examine in the lab)

If you are diagnosed with lupus nephritis, there are treatments available that can help to control the disease and protect your kidneys.1

How is lupus nephritis treated?

There is no cure for lupus nephritis. But there are treatments available that can help manage the condition and prevent further kidney damage. Treatment options include:1

  • Immunosuppressive drugs such as Lupkynis™ (voclosporin)
  • Steroids
  • Biologic agents such as Benlysta® (belimumab)

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, your treatment plan may also include medicines or other ways to control those conditions.1
Seeking medical care

Lupus nephritis is a serious condition. It can lead to kidney damage and kidney failure. But this new research has found that high protein levels in your urine may predict lupus nephritis. This means that doctors may be able to identify those at risk for lupus nephritis and provide them with early treatment.2

If you experience any symptoms of lupus nephritis, it is important to see your doctor. They can determine whether you have the condition. If you do, they can provide you with the appropriate treatment.

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