NKF Launches Video Series for Patients with Lupus and Lupus Nephritis

(December 4, 2023, New York, NY) —The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has launched a new four-part patient-friendly animated video series to educate and help patients from diverse backgrounds and with varying levels of health literacy better understand the link between systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis (LN). SLE is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease with the potential to affect all organ systems, including the kidneys. Compared to the general population, patients with SLE and LN have an increased risk of mortality.[i], [ii] The cause of SLE remains unknown, but it may be triggered in genetically susceptible individuals by not yet discovered environmental factors.

            Four short, patient-friendly animated videos, each ranging from about one to two minutes are available in both English and Spanish to help patients understand these conditions and how they each relate to one another. Both narration and text are simple and easy to understand; all the videos include animations, music, and colorful graphics.

              In the U.S., 37 million adults are estimated to have kidney disease. Kidney disease is a frequent and serious complication of SLE.[iii], [iv], [v] LN is an immune complex glomerulonephritis and is the most common form of kidney involvement in SLE. Therefore, patients with SLE should also undergo kidney evaluations at regular intervals. A kidney biopsy is needed to determine the exact cause of kidney injury in SLE. The morbidity and mortality of lupus patients who develop kidney involvement are significantly increased compared to lupus patients without kidney disease. The clinical manifestations of lupus, a disease that typically affects women in their childbearing years, are due to an overactive immune system attacking healthy parts of the body.

“SLE and LN 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," said Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, M.D., chief medical officer for the National Kidney Foundation. Your doctor will help you find a treatment plan that works well for your body since everyone’s body is unique.”

            A recent meta-analysis funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and targeting five registries throughout the U.S., put the pooled prevalence of SLE at approximately 73 per 100,000 person-years.[vi] The prevalence was nine times higher in women than men, with American Indian, Alaska Native, and Black females being the groups at highest risk, followed by Hispanic, White, and Asian females. vi Data from the New York City registry showed kidney disease was present in over 50% of the non-white patients. Importantly, lupus carries considerable morbidity and mortality. Recent data shows that the average 10-year survival rate exceeds 90%,[vii], [viii] and the 15-year survival rate is approximately 80%.[ix]

            Treatment of SLE should target multiple goals that include control of disease activity, prevention of disease flares, long-term patient survival, minimization of disease or treatment-related comorbidity, and improvement of quality of life. In everyday practice, SLE therapy should target clinical remission. When remission cannot be achieved, then the aim should be the lowest possible level of disease activity.[x], [xi]  Management of SLE involves multiple strategies including lifestyle modifications, diet, and medications that focus on the immune system and other areas like blood pressure control and lipid-lowering agents.

            Topics for each animated video include the following: lupus nephritis and the kidneys; diagnosis; lifestyle and wellness; and treatments. 

This four-part educational animated video series was supported by Aurinia, GSK, Kezar Life Sciences, Inc., and Novartis.

About Kidney Disease

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD)—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it.  About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for kidney disease.  Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and family history. People of Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Black or African American people are more than four times as likely as White Americans to have kidney failure. Hispanics experience kidney failure at about double the rate of White people. For more information on the connection between kidney disease and SLE, visit our patient information center at NKF Cares, and to learn more about kidney disease, visit kidney.org.

About the National Kidney Foundation

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit www.kidney.org.


[i] Schur P, Hahn B. Epidemiology and pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus. Pisetsky D, Ramirez-Curtis M (Eds). UpToDate, Waltham, MA. Updated April 29 2021. Accessed June 2 2021.

[ii] Wallace D, Gladman D. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults. Pisetsky D, Ramirez-Curtis M (Eds). Waltham, MA. UpToDate. Updated December 10 2019. Accessed June 2 2021.

[iii] Bomback A, D’Agati V. Kidney manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus. In: Gilbert S, Weiner D, Gipson D, Perazella M, Tonelli M., eds. National Kidney Foundation. Primer on Kidney Diseases. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2014.

[iv] Waldman M, Appel G. Update on the treatment of lupus nephritis. Kidney Int. 2006;70:1403-1412.

[v] Saxena R, Mahajan T, Mohan C. Lupus nephritis: current update. Arthritis Res Ther. 2011;13:240

[vi] Izmirly PM, Parton H, Wang L, et al. Prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus in the United States: Estimates from a meta-analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Lupus Registries. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2021;73:991-996.

[vii] Kasitanon N, Magder LS, Petri M. Predictors of survival in systemic lupus erythematosus. Medicine (Baltimore). 2006;85:147-156.

[viii] Trager J, Ward MM. Mortality and causes of death in systemic lupus erythematosus. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2001;13:345-351.

[ix] Chambers SA, Rahman A, Isenberg DA. Treatment adherence and clinical outcome in systemic lupus erythematosus. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2007;46:895-898.

[x] Fanouriakis A, Kostopoulou M, Alunno A, et al. 2019 update of the EULAR recommendations for the management of systemic lupus erythematosus. Annals Rheumatic Dis 2019;78:736-745.

[xi] Wallace D. Overview of the management and prognosis of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults. Pisetsky D, Ramirez-Curtis M (Eds). UpToDate, Waltham, MA. Updated April 19, 2021. Accessed June 2, 2021.