Vascular lesions are encountered frequently in renal biopsy specimens of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and can present in a variety of morphologic forms. True renal lupus vasculitis (TRLV) is one of the rare vascular lesions associated with lupus nephritis that has been infrequently reported in the medical literature. The primary focus on glomerular pathology and collective classification of the vascular lesions under lupus vasculopathy is one of the reasons why this form of inflammatory vasculitis has been under-recognized as a separate disease entity. Here we have comprehensively reviewed the literature on renal vascular involvement in SLE for a better understanding of the epidemiology, morphologic features, pathogenesis, clinical course and treatment of TRLV. It can be morphologically differentiated from other forms of renal vascular lesions in lupus nephritis, i.e. arteriosclerosis, uncomplicated vascular immune deposits, non-inflammatory necrotizing vasculopathy, and thrombotic microangiopathy. Despite close similarities with antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody associated vasculitis (AASV), there are certain morphological differences that warrant a thorough investigation of the possible pauci-immune mechanism of pathogenesis. The vasculitis follows a severe clinical course in general with rapid progression to renal failure, although favorable outcomes have been reported in certain cases. The standard use of steroids and cytotoxic drugs has yielded variable results in the treatment of TRLV. Current treatment modalities being used in lupus nephritis and AASV have been compared in this article with focus on drugs acting on the inflammatory cells implicated in TRLV pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-112
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Nephrology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Lupus nephritis
  • Lupus vasculitis
  • Lupus vasculopathy
  • Rituximab
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • True renal vasculitis
  • Vasculitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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