Peer-Reviewed Publication

A systematic review of the economic burden of lupus nephritis

The Economic Burden of Lupus Nephritis: A Systematic Literature Review

Juliette C. Thompson, Anadi Mahajan, David A. Scott, Kerry Gairy


Few studies have evaluated the economic burden of lupus nephritis (LN). The aim of this systematic literature review (SLR) was to assess the economic burden (direct and indirect costs, and healthcare resource utilization [HCRU]) associated with LN, with particular focus on the burden of renal flares and end-stage kidney disease (ESKD).


This SLR (GSK study 213531) was conducted and reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Searches of the MEDLINE and Embase databases were conducted for English language publications reporting cost or HCRU data in patients with LN (regardless of age or LN histological class) until December 10, 2019. Handsearching of conference proceedings and keyword-based searches in PubMed, Google, and Google Scholar were also conducted.


Twenty-two studies were identified from 28 publications reporting the cost (n = 19) and HCRU (n = 13) associated with LN. Most studies were from North America (n = 13) and many used administrative claims data (n = 9). LN was associated with substantially higher direct costs (e.g., total annual, hospitalization, and ESKD-related direct costs), total indirect costs, and HCRU (e.g., hospitalization, outpatient services, and medication use) compared with patients without systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or non-renal SLE controls. ESKD and dialysis were significant contributors to economic burden. No studies described the cost of renal flares.


The consensus across the 22 studies was that the economic burden of LN is substantial, particularly in active or severe disease, or if there is progression to ESKD. Total direct cost may be underestimated in claims data given the challenges of identifying patients with LN. Further studies are vital to ascertain the cost of renal flares; a renal flare is likely to result in a period of increased HCRU, which could be mitigated by treatments that extend renal remission.