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Ann Rheum Dis. 2002 Jan;61(1):29-31.

Familial systemic lupus erythematosus: the role of genetic and environmental factors.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.



To examine the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to disease occurrence in 26 families with two or more members affected with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).


Genetic and environmental factors were examined by HLA-A, B, C/DR typing and by determining the presence of lymphocytotoxic antibodies (LCA) in patients and their consanguineous and non-consanguineous relatives.


No association between SLE and HLA-A, B, C antigens was found. There was, however, a significant association with HLA-DR2 in white subjects with SLE. The most striking finding was that HLA sharing was increased among the affected members, suggesting genetic similarities. Seven of 14 sib pairs (50%) who had concordant SLE were HLA identical as opposed to an expected 25%. Another interesting finding was that 15/18 (83%) patients with SLE and 11/22 (50%) consanguineous relatives had LCA, while 1/9 (11%) spouses, and 2/42 (5%) healthy controls had these antibodies.


Genetic factors have a role in the development and expression of SLE. Environmental factors may trigger the disease in genetically susceptible hosts.

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