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Lupus. 2017 Oct;26(12):1239-1251. doi: 10.1177/0961203317707064. Epub 2017 May 8.

Ultraviolet-A1 irradiation therapy for systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Veterans Administration, New Orleans, LA, USA.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus, SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the production of autoantibodies, which bind to antigens and are deposited within tissues to fix complement, resulting in widespread systemic inflammation. The studies presented herein are consistent with hyperpolarized, adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-deficient mitochondria being central to the disease process. These hyperpolarized mitochondria resist the depolarization required for activation-induced apoptosis. The mitochondrial ATP deficits add to this resistance to apoptosis and also reduce the macrophage energy that is needed to clear apoptotic bodies. In both cases, necrosis, the alternative pathway of cell death, results. Intracellular constituents spill into the blood and tissues, eliciting inflammatory responses directed at their removal. What results is "autoimmunity." Ultraviolet (UV)-A1 photons have the capacity to remediate this aberrancy. Exogenous exposure to low-dose, full-body, UV-A1 radiation generates singlet oxygen. Singlet oxygen has two major palliative actions in patients with lupus and the UV-A1 photons themselves have several more. Singlet oxygen depolarizes the hyperpolarized mitochondrion, triggering non-ATP-dependent apoptosis that deters necrosis. Next, singlet oxygen activates the gene encoding heme oxygenase (HO-1), a major governor of systemic homeostasis. HO-1 catalyzes the degradation of the oxidant heme into biliverdin (converted to bilirubin), Fe, and carbon monoxide (CO), the first three of these exerting powerful antioxidant effects, and in conjunction with a fourth, CO, protecting against injury to the coronary arteries, the central nervous system, and the lungs. The UV-A1 photons themselves directly attenuate disease in lupus by reducing B cell activity, preventing the suppression of cell-mediated immunity, slowing an epigenetic progression toward SLE, and ameliorating discoid and subacute cutaneous lupus. Finally, a combination of these mechanisms reduces levels of anticardiolipin antibodies and protects during lupus pregnancy. Capping all of this is that UV-A1 irradiation is an essentially innocuous, highly manageable, and comfortable therapeutic agency.


B-cells; Ultraviolet-A1; anticardiolipin antibodies; apoptosis; carbon monoxide; coronary artery disease; discoid lupus; heme oxygenase-1; interstitial lung disease; pulmonary hypertension; subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus

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