Specialized treatment of lupus nephritis

Lupus nephritis is a disease that affects the kidneys of people who have systemic lupus erythematosus (commonly called lupus.) Lupus and lupus nephritis are two different diseases. People with lupus nephritis have kidneys that don't work well. They have swelling or scarring on the small blood vessels that filter waste in the kidneys. About one-third of adults are diagnosed with lupus and lupus nephritis at the same time. If not controlled, lupus nephritis can cause kidney failure.


Meet our team

Specialized care for a complex condition

If you have lupus nephritis, you need specialized care for your lupus and your kidney disease. Our Lupus Nephritis Clinic includes experts in rheumatology (immune system) and nephrology (kidney). These doctors work together to manage your complex condition.

Our providers


One place for all your needs

UW Health's coordinated approach to care means you will have fewer office visits. Our clinic offers same-day evaluations with your lupus and kidney specialists, social work consults and pharmacy consults.

We also provide on-site immunizations, diagnostic tests, infusions, education and self- management tools, care coordination with referrals to other specialists and ongoing management of complex medication therapies.

Patient stories

Read how others are now thriving

Young woman smiling outdoors in front of a tree, wearing glasses and a white scarf.

The nurses were great... The little things meant so much.

Leah Messer
Lupus nephritis patient

Symptoms and diagnosis

Recognizing the symptoms

Lupus nephritis symptoms include:

  • Foamy urine

  • Swelling in the legs, feet or ankles

  • Tiredness

  • Weight gain

Treatments and research

Treating lupus nephritis

While there is no cure for lupus nephritis, treatment is necessary. Treatment for lupus nephritis is focused on keeping your kidneys working. We do this through careful evaluation, early diagnosis, controlling kidney inflammation, preserving kidney health, reducing treatment/medication side effects and preventing flare-ups.

Medications to treat lupus nephritis include:

  • Blood pressure medicines, to lower your blood pressure

  • Corticosteroids, to reduce inflammation

  • Immunosuppressive therapy, to quiet your immune response

Good nutrition is also an important part of lupus nephritis treatment. Nutrition experts at the UW Health Lupus Nephritis Clinic will help you develop a diet plan that’s healthy for your kidneys. 

Lupus nephritis and kidney failure

Without treatment, lupus nephritis can lead to kidney failure. If you have kidney failure, your doctor will recommend additional treatments. Kidney failure treatments include:

A procedure that uses a machine to perform your kidney’s functions.

A surgery to replace your non-working kidney with a kidney from another person.

Learn more

Tests and prevention

Self-management for better health

Managing your lupus can help to slow the damage caused by lupus nephritis.

More information about lupus self-management and treatment for common lupus symptoms

Learn about the kidney biopsy procedure

Patient and support services

Support for you

The Wisconsin Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America offers support groups across the state. Learn more or locate a lupus support group

Online resources