Lupus nephritis: When and how often to biopsy and what does it mean?

Gabriella Moroni, Federica Depetri, Claudio Ponticelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Renal disease is a frequent complication of SLE which can lead to significant illness and even death. Today, a baseline renal biopsy is highly recommended for all subjects with evidence of lupus nephritis. Biopsy allows the clinician to recognize and classify different forms of autoimmune lupus glomerulonephritis, and to detect other glomerular diseases with variable pathogenesis which are not directly related to autoimmune reactivity, such as lupus podocytopathy. Moreover, not only glomerular diseases, but other severe forms of renal involvement, such as tubulo-interstitial nephritis or thrombotic microangiopathy may be detected by biopsy in lupus patients. Thus, an accurate definition of the nature and severity of renal involvement is mandatory to assess the possible risk of progression and to establish an appropriate treatment.The indications to repeat biopsy are more controversial. Some physicians recommend protocol biopsies to recognize the possible transformation from one class to another one, or to identify silent progression of renal disease, others feel that good clinical monitoring is sufficient to assess prognosis and to make therapeutic decisions. At any rate, although any decision should always be taken by considering the clinical conditions of the patient, there are no doubts that repeat renal biopsy may represent a useful tool in difficult cases to evaluate the response to therapy, to modulate the intensity of treatment, and to predict the long-term renal outcome both in quiescent lupus and in flares of activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-40
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jun 15 2016


  • Lupus class transformation
  • Lupus nephritis
  • Renal biopsy in SLE
  • Repeat renal biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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