NKF launches educational video series for lupus, lupus nephritis

Series is made up of four short videos in English and Spanish

Andrea Lobo, PhD avatar

by Andrea Lobo, PhD |

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An illustration highlights the kidneys of a person seen from behind while drinking from a glass.

The National Kidney Foundation (NFK) has launched a patient-friendly video series to help patients better understand the association between lupus and lupus nephritis.

Marked by kidney inflammation and damage, lupus nephritis is considered to be one of the most severe complications of lupus, since it may compromise the ability of the kidneys to properly remove waste and lead to kidney failure, if not treated appropriately.

The series is composed of four short videos, available in English and Spanish, each one about one to two minutes long. The videos feature animation, music, and colorful graphics, along with easy-to-follow text and narration for people with distinct levels of health literacy and backgrounds.

The topics include the kidneys and lupus nephritis, diagnosis, lifestyle and wellness, and treatments. The series was supported by Aurinia, GSK, Kezar Life Sciences, and Novartis.

Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus, occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissue. The condition can affect nearly every part of the body, leading to a wide range of symptoms.

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Treating lupus

In the U.S., the prevalence of lupus was estimated to be at around 73 per 100,000 person-years, according to a recent meta-analysis funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that combined data from five U.S. registries. Person-years is a composite measure that takes into account both the number of people and the amount of time each person was followed in the study. For instance, 100 person-years may refer to a group of 100 people who were followed for a year.

According to this analysis, the prevalence of lupus was found to be nine times higher in women than men. Also, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Black females were found to be at a higher risk of developing the disease, followed by Hispanic, White, and Asian females.

Lupus treatments generally aim to control disease activity, prevent flares, and reduce disease or treatment-related comorbidities. Treatments also try to improve survival and quality of life. These include antimalarial therapies, which help control symptoms by interfering with inflammatory and autoimmune responses, and corticosteroids, which can help ease pain and inflammation. Managing the disease may also require changes in lifestyle and diet, or medications to treat other coexistent conditions.

“[Lupus] and [lupus nephritis] are complicated autoimmune diseases that require many tests and kidney evaluations because a combination of steroids and antimalarial therapies may be prescribed due to the body’s immune system actually attacking the body,” Joseph Vassalotti, MD, chief medical officer for the National Kidney Foundation, said in a press release. “Your doctor will help you find a treatment plan that works well for your body since everyone’s body is unique.”

In lupus nephritis, which can affect up to 60% of adults and 80% of children with lupus, the disease targets the kidneys, so patients are advised to undergo routine kidney evaluations. A kidney biopsy, which entails collecting a small piece of kidney tissue to examine, is commonly used to diagnose the cause of kidney damage.

Severe lupus flares and impaired kidney function may be life-threatening if not treated adequately. However, with modern treatments and care, about 80% to 90% of patients have a life expectancy comparable to the general population.

The NFK is the largest patient-centric organization focused on the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S.