Leading the way to a cure


Progressions and Biomarkers of Proliferative Lupus Nephritis

Fu, Shu Man, MD, PhD

University of Virginia

The majority of people with lupus will eventually develop kidney problems as the disease attacks the kidneys and its blood supply. Called “proliferative lupus nephritis,” the condition often leads to end-stage renal disease that requires either chronic dialysis or kidney transplantation, both of which have a significant impact on the quality of life. 

Dr. Fu’s laboratory has identified three stages of lupus nephritis, acute, transitional, and chronic glomerulonephritis (GN), in an animal model. They also found that the gene expression of affected kidney cells is different and distinct for each stage. With their ALR grant, they want to confirm their findings and use laser capture microdissection techniques and gene array analyses to biopsy kidney specimens from lupus patients with proliferative GN. Then they can determine if the genetic changes they saw in the animal model can be applied to humans. They also want to see if the resulting proteins from these genetic aberrations appear as potential biomarkers in the urine, where they could be used to more accurately and easily stage the disease.

What this study means for people with lupus: Lupus nephritis is not only difficult to treat, it is also difficult to diagnose and track, requiring a kidney biopsy to identify the stage of the disease. Finding biomarkers that could be used to track the progression of the disease would not only help with its management, but is important in designing clinical trials for new drug development.

1.5 million

people in the U.S. have Lupus.

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