Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Genetic risk for lupus tied to ancestry

Northwestern Medicine collaborated with international colleagues in a study that identified two dozen new genes linked to lupus after analyzing genetic samples from over 27,000 individuals across the globe.

Aug 04, 2017
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Systemic lupus erythematosus (i/sɨˈstɛmɪk ˈluːpəs ˌɛrɨθiːməˈtoʊsəs/), often abbreviated to SLE or lupus, is a systemic autoimmune disease (or autoimmune connective tissue disease) that can affect any part of the body. As occurs in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body's cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage. It is a Type III hypersensitivity reaction caused by antibody-immune complex formation.

SLE most often harms the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, and nervous system. The course of the disease is unpredictable, with periods of illness (called flares) alternating with remissions. The disease occurs nine times more often in women than in men, especially in women in child-bearing years ages 15 to 35, and is also more common in those of non-European descent.

SLE is treatable using immunosuppression, mainly with cyclophosphamide, corticosteroids and other immunosuppressants; there is currently no cure. SLE can be fatal, although with recent medical advances, fatalities are becoming increasingly rare. Survival for people with SLE in the United States, Canada, and Europe has risen to approximately 95% at five years, 90% at 10 years, and 78% at 20 years, and now approaches that of matched controls without lupus.

Childhood systemic lupus erythematosus generally presents between the ages of 3 and 15, with girls outnumbering boys 4:1, and typical skin manifestations being butterfly eruption on the face and photosensitivity.

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