Although there is no cure for lupus nephritis, treatment goals aim to:
- Keep the disease from getting worse
- Reduce symptoms or make symptoms disappear (remission)
- Avoid the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant
A treatment plan can help you manage symptoms such as high blood pressure, protein in the urine (proteinuria), and swelling (edema) in the hands and feet.
In general, doctors may recommend these treatments for people with kidney disease:
- Dietary protein and salt restriction. A specialized diet can improve kidney function.
- Blood pressure medications. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) can help control blood pressure and keep protein from leaking from the kidneys into the urine.
However, conservative treatment alone won't work to treat people with severe forms of lupus nephritis.
Specialized treatments used when traditional therapies don't work include:
- Steroids, cyclophosphamide and immunosuppressants. People with severe lupus nephritis need treatment with immunosuppressive therapies, including drugs such as prednisone, cyclophosphamide, azathioprine (Imuran) and mycophenolate (CellCept). Mayo Clinic experts can help create a treatment plan that maximizes medication benefits and minimizes side effects.
- Novel therapies. When immunosuppressive therapies don't work to bring on complete remission for people with lupus nephritis, new therapies are needed. Mayo Clinic sometimes tests new drugs and therapeutic strategies for lupus and lupus nephritis in clinical trials offered through the Mayo Nephrology Collaborative Group.
Treatment options for kidney failure
For people who progress to kidney failure, treatment options include:
- Dialysis. Mayo Clinic offers state-of-the-art dialysis treatment, including the option for in-home dialysis.
- Kidney transplant. All three Mayo locations offer kidney transplant. Mayo has performed thousands of kidney transplants with better than average results.