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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus, SLE)

A chronic, inflammatory, connective tissue disease that can affect the joints and many organs, including the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, and nervous system. It can cause many different symptoms; however, not everyone with systemic lupus erythematosus has all of the symptoms. Also called lupus and SLE.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys, and brain. Normally, the body's immune system makes proteins called antibodies to protect the body against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials. These foreign materials are called antigens.

In an autoimmune disorder like lupus, the immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against itself. These antibodies—called "auto-antibodies" (auto means "self")—cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body...Read more about Lupus NIH - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Antinuclear Antibody, Rheumatoid Factor, and Cyclic-Citrullinated Peptide Tests for Evaluating Musculoskeletal Complaints in Children [Internet]

To assess the test performance of antinuclear antibody (ANA), rheumatoid factor (RF), and cyclic-citrullinated peptide (CCP) tests in children and adolescents with undiagnosed musculoskeletal (MSK) pain or joint swelling, compared with clinical diagnoses of pediatric systemic lupus erythematosus (pSLE) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). To explore differences in test performance for accuracy modifiers including age, sex, race or ethnicity, comorbidities, and recent infections. To evaluate the impact of test results on clinical decisionmaking and clinically important outcomes such as referrals, ordering of additional tests, clinical management, and anxiety experienced by children and parents.

[Systematic assessment of influence of psychological interventions on psychosomatic symptoms in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus]

Bibliographic details: Zhang J, Wei W, Haiyan J.  [Systematic assessment of influence of psychological interventions on psychosomatic symptoms in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus]. Chinese Nursing Research 2012; 26(5A): 1240-1243

Combining intravenous immunoglobulin for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: a meta-analysis

Bibliographic details: An RX, Tian JH, Tan JY, Yang KH.  Combining intravenous immunoglobulin for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: a meta-analysis. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2011; 11(3): 320-324 Available from: http://www.cjebm.org.cn/oa/DArticle.aspx?type=view&id=201103014

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Summaries for consumers

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) for lupus erythematosus

DHEA probably leads to little or no difference in disease activity in people with mild to moderate disease, but probably slightly improves overall well‐being. These results are based on moderate quality evidence.

Treatment for people with lupus nephritis

Lupus nephritis is an inflammatory condition affecting the kidneys which is caused by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease that is more common among women. About half of all people with SLE develop lupus nephritis, and of these about 1/10 experience chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. Treatment aims to delay disease progression and achieve remission by stabilising and improving kidney function and minimising side effects. For about the past 30 years, standard treatment for lupus nephritis has focused on a combination of cyclophosphamide (an alkylating agent) and corticosteroids.

Cyclophosphamide versus methylprednisolone for lupus

Researchers in The Cochrane Collaboration conducted a review of the effect of cyclophosphamide for people with central nervous system lupus compared to the usual treatment of methylprednisolone. After searching for all relevant studies, they found one study with 32 people. The study compared people who took cyclophosphamide by IV (intravenous or through a vein) to people who took steroids (methylprednisolone by IV). All people took steroid pills (prednisone) at the beginning of the study and the amount was decreased over the study. The study lasted two years.

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Terms to know

A protein produced by the immune system in response to a foreign substance such as a virus or bacterium.
A foreign substance that triggers the production of antibodies when it is introduced into the body.
Autoimmune Disease
Disease that results when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues. Examples include multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Refers to disorders that last a long time, often years. Chronic is the opposite of acute, or brief.
Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.
In medicine, the place where two or more bones are connected. Examples include the shoulder, elbow, knee, and jaw.

More about Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Photo of a young adult woman

See Also: Lupus Nephritis

Other terms to know: See all 6
Antibodies, Antigens, Autoimmune Disease

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