Living with Lupus Nephritis


Lupus nephritis can feel overwhelming. Discover how you can cope better with lupus nephritis by learning about the disease, the symptoms, and the impact lupus has on the body.


Did you know?

Lupus nephritis most often develops within 5 years of your lupus diagnosis.

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Approximately 40% of people with SLE will develop lupus nephritis.

In the early stages of lupus nephritis, symptoms may not be apparent.

Lupus nephritis typically affects people who are 20 to 40 years old.

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What is lupus nephritis?


When lupus causes your immune system to attack and inflame your kidneys, it’s called lupus nephritis.


The inflammation from lupus nephritis can make your kidneys unable to properly remove waste from your blood or control the amount of fluids in your body.

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What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Lupus Nephritis?


In the early stages of lupus nephritis, symptoms may not be apparent. If you see any of these common signs and symptoms, contact your doctor about the possibility of lupus progressing to lupus nephritis.

The most common signs and symptoms of lupus nephritis include:

  • sudden and unexplained swelling, especially in the extremities (feet, ankles, legs, fingers, arms) or the eyes
  • blood in the urine
  • elevated blood pressure
  • foamy or frothy urine
  • increased need to urinate, especially at night

This list is not all-inclusive, and BENLYSTA may not help with all these symptoms. Consult your healthcare provider to see if BENLYSTA is right for you.


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In a clinical study in Black patients with lupus, a reduction in disease activity was seen but was not statistically significant. Ask your doctor about BENLYSTA.




Have you been diagnosed with lupus nephritis?


If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lupus nephritis, adding BENLYSTA may help.


Learn about BENLYSTA for lupus nephritis


Important terms for understanding lupus nephritis


Your immune system is like a bodyguard against invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and other germs. Normally, your immune system works to fight off these invaders. But in the case of lupus, the immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s healthy tissues.


Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems, including your kidneys, joints, skin, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.


The renal system includes your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.


The nephrons are small structures in the kidneys that filter the blood. When you have lupus nephritis, the nephrons become inflamed, making your kidneys unable to properly remove waste from your blood or control the amount of fluids in your body.


A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases and conditions that affect the kidneys.



Lupus and the immune system


The following terms may help you better understand lupus and how it can affect the immune system.


Normal Immune System: A normal immune system produces B cells, which make antibodies that destroy and control harmful substances, such as viruses, bacteria, and germs.


Normal B Cell: This type of white blood cell produces antibodies.


Antibody: Antibodies attach themselves to germs and try to control or destroy them.


BLyS: B-lymphocyte stimulator is a protein that helps some cells grow healthy body tissue.


Germs: Viruses, bacteria, and other invaders.


Abnormal Immune System: With lupus, the immune system produces autoreactive B cells, which make a type of protein called autoantibodies. These autoantibodies attack your own body, leading to inflammation.


Autoreactive B Cell: These are the “bad” version of B cells that make harmful autoantibodies. 


Autoantibody: While antibodies protect the body, autoantibodies work against the body. 


Inflamed Body Tissue: A sign of lupus disease activity.


Here, you can see how a healthy immune system attacks invaders, such as germs. In the case of lupus, autoantibodies attack healthy tissues, leading to inflammation.

Diagram: Normal Immune System
Diagram: abnormal Immune System

Treatment of Lupus Nephritis


Treatment for lupus nephritis can involve different medicines that keep the immune system from attacking the kidneys. The treatments you receive will depend on the type of lupus nephritis you have and how severe it is.


There are different stages of lupus nephritis, and your treatment options may differ. Commonly used treatment options to help reduce kidney disease activity include corticosteroids and immunosuppressive therapies. Talk to your doctor about the treatment plan that is right for you.

Lupus affects everyone differently

Learn about lupus from real BENLYSTA patients: Michelle, Morgan, and Susan.

Michelle: My personality is definitely one of being a perfectionist. Anyone that knows me – my husband, my children – they know I like to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s”.

Morgan: As a child, you could find me in the water with my yellow lab, Chelsea. I guess you’d say I was your typical tomboy.

Susan: After seeing The Nutcracker for the first time, dance was one of my passions. Like, once the music started playing, everything else melted away.

Michelle: I grew up watching my mother fight lupus and as I became a young adult, I became her caregiver and that sort of instilled in me a fear, and a denial that there was no way I ever was going to have lupus. I was going to do everything possible – not that there’s anything you can do to prevent lupus. Even when I started having symptoms, I hid them from everyone …even my family.

Morgan: I didn’t tell anyone for years. My mom thought I was imagining it. In many ways getting the diagnosis was a huge relief. I did some research and found out that lupus is a chronic disease, with no cure. I decided, at that point, that I wasn’t going to be labeled by my lupus. I was going to fight it.

Susan: I guess I started having symptoms before my son was born, but I didn’t get the official diagnosis until my early 30s when he was about 2 years old. It was a very difficult time for me.

Michelle: I think it’s difficult for people to understand what people with lupus really experience. They look at them on the surface and they say: “They’re okay. They look fine.” I was able to finally take a deep breath and stop with the façade that everything was okay. So, when I finally – with the help of my rheumatologist – had that diagnosis, and said: “we need to go from here. We need to involve your family, your friends.

Dr Lambert: Lupus affects everyone differently. The symptoms are wide-ranging and can change over time. So, the clinical course of someone with lupus often is unpredictable. In some people, the first symptoms may resemble an infection. In others, lupus begins as a series of vague, seemingly unrelated symptoms that may progress over several years. Because of the great variability, a thorough medical examination by a healthcare professional familiar with lupus, typically a rheumatologist, is often required to make an accurate diagnosis.


Want to learn more about BENLYSTA, a treatment designed for lupus?

As you and your doctor consider BENLYSTA, it’s natural to have questions. To learn more about how BENLYSTA works, understand the financial help we offer, hear from others like you, and more, request your free BENLYSTA Information Kit.

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Real patient
compensated by GSK

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of medicine is BENLYSTA?

    BENLYSTA (belimumab) is a biologic therapy, not a steroid. It is taken in addition to your other lupus medications and is available in three options for adults with lupus and lupus nephritis:

    • an autoinjector you self-inject
    • a prefilled syringe you self-inject
    • an intravenous (IV) infusion a healthcare provider administers

    For children ages 5 and above with lupus, BENLYSTA is available as an IV infusion.


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  • How is BENLYSTA administered?

    For children ages 5 and above and adults, BENLYSTA can be administered by your healthcare provider through an IV infusion

    For adults, BENLYSTA can also be self-injected once a week through a subcutaneous (SC) injection, either with an autoinjector or a prefilled syringe.

    Learn more about dosing for BENLYSTA.

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  • How does BENLYSTA work?

    In people with lupus, certain white blood cells called autoreactive B cells (cells that react against the body) stay in the body longer than they should.

    One of the important proteins for the growth of these B cells is called B-lymphocyte stimulator, or BLyS. BENLYSTA works by binding to BLyS. When BENLYSTA is attached to BLyS, BLyS can no longer bind to and stimulate the autoreactive B cells.  

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  • Who might be a candidate for treatment with BENLYSTA?

    BENLYSTA is not for everyone.


    Ask your doctor if BENLYSTA is right for you. Here are a few things you and your doctor may consider before prescribing BENLYSTA:


    - You have already been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and/or lupus nephritis (LN).
    - You are currently taking medicines to help manage your lupus and/or lupus nephritis.
    - Your lupus and/or lupus nephritis has continued to be active.


    Remember, only you and your doctor can decide whether BENLYSTA is right for you.


    Other information to consider

    • It is not known if BENLYSTA is safe and effective in people with severe active central nervous system lupus.


    BENLYSTA and pregnancy

    • Before you receive BENLYSTA, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BENLYSTA will harm your unborn baby.
    • You should talk to your healthcare provider about whether to prevent pregnancy while on BENLYSTA. If you choose to prevent pregnancy, you should use an effective method of birth control while receiving BENLYSTA and for at least 4 months after the final dose of BENLYSTA.
      Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant during your treatment with BENLYSTA or if you think you may be pregnant.
    • If you become pregnant while receiving BENLYSTA, talk to your healthcare provider about enrolling in the BENLYSTA Pregnancy Registry. You can enroll in this registry by calling 1-877-681-6296. The purpose of the registry is to monitor the health of you and your baby.
    • Tell your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if BENLYSTA passes into your breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will receive BENLYSTA and breastfeed.


    This is not the full list of the things your healthcare professional will need to consider before prescribing BENLYSTA. For more information, refer to the Medication Guide and talk to your doctor.

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  • How long will I need to take BENLYSTA?

    You and your healthcare provider are the best people to determine how long you should receive BENLYSTA. BENLYSTA may take time to work in the body.

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BENLYSTA is a new treatment for lupus nephritis (LN).

Learn more about BENLYSTA for LN



If you are looking to find a lupus nephritis physician to help you or a loved one take the next step with BENLYSTA, we are here to help.

Find a physician near you