Introduction: Acute kidney injury (AKI) is common in lupus nephritis (LN) and a risk factor for chronic kidney failure. Here, we aimed to assess the characteristics and prognosis of LN patients with AKI. Methods: AKI and AKI severity stages in LN patients were defined by the Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) classification. Long-term renal outcomes and patient mortality between different stages of AKI were compared by Cox regression analysis. Results: Of 1272 LN patients, 225 (17.69%) had AKI and 72 (5.66%) were AKI stage 3. Compared with the non-AKI group, the proportion of male patients was significantly higher in the AKI group (p = 0.002). In addition, there were markedly higher proportions of hematologic system damage, more severe renal manifestations, and higher Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) scores in the AKI group than in the non-AKI group. The active and chronic lesions in renal biopsy were significantly higher in LN patients with AKI than those without AKI. During a median follow-up of 53 months, Kaplan-Meier curve showed that LN patients with AKI stage 3 had significantly poorer long-term renal outcomes (p = 0.002) and patient survival (p < 0.001) than those without AKI. Furthermore, AKI stage 3, but not stage 1 or 2 was significantly associated with adverse renal outcomes (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01–6.28, p = 0.048) and all-cause mortality (HR = 2.80, 95% CI: 1.18–6.61, p = 0.019) in LN patients. In patients with AKI, increased baseline serum creatinine and severe glomerular sclerosis were independent risk factors for worse renal outcomes, while higher blood pressure, increased baseline serum creatinine, and anti-Sjogren’s syndrome A positivity could indicate poor survival. Discussion: LN patients with AKI stage 3, but not stages 1 and 2, have poorer long-term renal outcomes and patient survival. Our study demonstrates the importance of early identification and management of AKI in LN patients.

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