To describe renal outcomes of the lupus nephritis (LN) population of the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG) in the Netherlands and to identify predictors for renal flares and long-term renal outcome in daily clinical practice.
A retrospective analysis of biopsy-proven LN patients with induction and maintenance treatment in the UMCG between 1982 and 2016 was performed. Data were collected at time of diagnosis, after 6 months and every year up to 10 years after diagnosis. Outcome measures were renal relapse (biopsy proven), progression to chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 3 or 4 and chronic renal replacement therapy. The ability of serum creatinine, proteinuria, creatinine clearance, serum anti-double stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies, serum complement 3 (C3) and serum complement 4 (C4), as well as biographic data and histopathological class to predict long-term renal outcome was assessed.
Seventy-one patients were included, with median follow-up of 120 months (IQR 48-120 months). During follow-up – up to 10 years – twenty-one (30%) patients experienced at least one relapse. Eleven (15%) patients had CKD stage 3 or 4, of whom eight showed persistent CKD since baseline and two (3%) patients required chronic renal replacement therapy. At baseline, low levels of serum C3 were a significant predictor of renal relapse. Low levels of C3 and C4 at 6 and 12 and proteinuria and high levels of anti-dsDNA at 12 months were significant predictors of renal relapse. At baseline, 6 months and 12 months serum creatinine and creatinine clearance were significant predictors for persistent or newly developed CKD 3 or 4, and need for chronic renal replacement therapy.
Almost one-third of LN patients experience at least one renal relapse during long-term follow up, but only 3% need chronic renal replacement therapy. Our data suggests that early serological remission is associated with a low risk of renal relapse. Decreased renal function at onset and the first year after diagnosis is predictive for decreased renal function at a later stage.