Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are diseases in which the immune system of the body attacks and damages its own tissues by developing antibodies against targeted tissues. Some autoimmune diseases only target one organ of the body, while others target multiple organs. Several autoimmune diseases also attack different structures of the kidneys.

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  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: When the kidneys of a patient are affected by systemic lupus erythematosus, the condition is known as lupus nephritis. The condition causes structural abnormalities in the kidneys due to an attack of lupus autoantibodies. Patients with lupus nephritis experience high blood pressure, protein and blood in the urine, and kidney dysfunction. In some cases, there may be kidney failure. Men are at increased risk of developing lupus nephritis than women.
  • Sjogren's Disease: Sjogren’s disease is characterized by infiltration of the lymphocytes in the exocrine glands, especially in the lacrimal and salivary glands. However, sometimes the condition also affects the extraglandular organs. Almost 5% of the patients with primary Sjogren's syndrome have renal involvement. The condition is due to lymphocytic infiltration into the renal tubules. The management depends upon the types of disease (tubulointerstitial nephritis or glomerular disease).
  • Vasculitis: The condition involves inflammation of the vessels. Vasculitis may also develop in the blood-filtering vessels of the kidney, leading to swelling and damage to the blood capillaries. In such cases, it is known as renal vasculitis or antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) glomerulonephritis. The affected kidneys cannot perform their function, leading to the leaking of protein in the urine. In severe cases, it may lead to kidney failure.
  • Scleroderma: Scleroderma involves the hardening and tightening of the skin. The condition also affects the internal organs, blood vessels, and digestive tract. Renal involvement in scleroderma almost exclusively occurs in patients with diffuse scleroderma. In most patients, there is silent damage to the kidneys. When the condition progresses, the patients have scleroderma renal crisis, a life-threatening complication. Patients experience abnormally high blood pressure and blood in their urine.
  • Anti-GBM Disease: It is also known as Goodpasture syndrome. It is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the development of a substance that damages the collagen in the filtering unit of the kidneys. Symptoms of Anti-GBM disease are burning sensation during urination, blood in the urine, pale skin, and nausea and vomiting.