Diagnosing Lupus Nephritis

This information is useful for adults
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Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our labs are equipped with powerful imaging technology, including an electron microscopy.
  • Our kidney pathology lab was one of the first such dedicated research laboratories in the U.S.
  • The Yale Medicine team of pathologists is experienced and highly specialized.

Lupus nephritis is an autoimmune disease that causes rampant inflammation throughout the body. It can affect the skin, bones, muscles and/or internal organs, including the heart, brain and kidneys. Kidney inflammation can be a sign of severe illness that indicates a need for aggressive treatment, says Gilbert Moeckel, MD, PhD, associate director of Pathology and director of the Renal Pathology and Electron Microscopy Lab at Yale Medicine. Lupus nephritis (also called lupus kidney disease) is the diagnosis for lupus that has attacked the kidneys. Yale Medicine offers expert pathological assessment of lupus and other diseases that affect the kidneys.

As an autoimmune disease, lupus puts the immune system in overdrive. The immune system aggressively attacks healthy cells as though they were a foreign threat, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, such as rashes, fatigue, joint pain and fevers.

A diagnosis of lupus nephritis is a sign that lupus is advancing at a dangerous pace, Dr. Moeckel says. “Lupus nephritis is very aggressive and it can rapidly lead to end-stage renal (kidney) disease,” he says.