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Acta Reumatol Port. 2013 Oct-Dec;38(4):274-85.

Juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus in Portugal: clinical and immunological patterns of disease expression in a cohort of 56 patients.



To define the pattern of disease expression and to gain better understanding in patients with juvenile onset systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in Portugal.


The features of unselected patients with systemic lupus erythematosus who had disease onset before the age of 18 years were retrospectively analysed in three Portuguese centres with Pediatric Rheumatology Clinic over a 24-year period (1987-2011). Demographic, clinical and laboratory manifestations, therapy and outcome were assessed.


A cohort of 56 patients with a mean age at disease onset of 12.6 ± 4.04 years (mean ± 1SD) (range, 1.0-17.0 years) and a mean period of follow-up of 5.5 ± 5.4 years. Forty six (82.1%) patients were female. The most common disease manifestations were musculoskeletal (87.5%), mucocutaneous (80.3%) and haematological abnormalities (75%). Lupus nephritis was diagnosed in 46.4% of patients and consisted of glomerular nephritis in all cases. Neuropsychiatric manifestations occurred in 21.4% but severe central nervous system complications were uncommon, as brain infarcts and organic brain syndrome in 4 (7.1%) patients. Antinuclear antibodies and anti-double stranded DNA were positive in most patients in (98.2% and 71.4% respectively), as well as low C3 and/or C4 were observed frequently (85.7%). Generally, most patients had a good response to therapy as demonstrated by a significant decreasing of SLEDAI score from disease presentation to the last evaluation. The SLEDAI at diagnosis, the maximum SLEDAI and the incidence of complications were significantly higher in patients with neurolupus and/or lupus nephritis. Therapy included oral steroids (87.5%), hydroxychloroquine (85.7%), azathioprine (55.4%), IV cyclophosphamide (28.6%) along with other drugs. Six (10.7%) patients were treated with rituximab. Long-term remission was achieved in 32%, disease was active in 68%, adverse reactions to therapy occurred in 53.6% and complications/severe manifestations in 23.2%. Two patients died, being active disease and severe infection the causes of death.


This study suggests that in our patients the clinical and laboratory features observed were similar to juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus patients from other series. Clinical outcome was favourable in the present study. Complications from therapy were frequent.

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