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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

Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is a disease that can damage many parts of the body, such as the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. You can't catch lupus from another person.

If you have lupus you will have periods of illness (flares) and periods of wellness (remission).

What happens in lupus?

Lupus occurs when the immune system, which normally helps protect the body from infection and disease, attacks different parts of the body....Read more about Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
NIH - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

[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

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.

[Literature review of efficacy of psychological interventions in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus]

Bibliographic details: Lima de Moura Cal SF.  [Literature review of efficacy of psychological interventions in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus]. [Revisao da literatura sobre a eficacia da intervencao psicologica no tratamento do lupus eritematoso sistemico.] Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa 2011; 27(4): 485-490 Available from: http://www.revistaptp.unb.br/index.php/ptp/article/view/888

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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.

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.

Chloroquine as a steroid sparing agent for asthma

Asthma can be treated with drugs which aim to reduce inflammation in the airways. Inhaled corticosteroids are frequently used, but occasionally individuals require oral steroids for adequate control. However, oral steroids are frequently associated with severe side‐effects. Chloroquine has been suggested as a useful 'add‐on' therapy to oral steroid treatment with the aim of reducing the dose requirement in such asthma. This review found one small cross‐over study but this did not provide adequate evidence to decide whether chloroquine should be offered to reduce or eliminate oral steroid treatment. There is a need for well‐designed trials addressing this question before recommendations can be made.

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Terms to know

Antibodies
A protein produced by the immune system in response to a foreign substance such as a virus or bacterium.
Antigens
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.
Chronic
Refers to disorders that last a long time, often years. Chronic is the opposite of acute, or brief.
Inflammation
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.
Joints
In medicine, the place where two or more bones are connected. Examples include the shoulder, elbow, knee, and jaw.
Rheumatologist
Doctors who diagnose and treat diseases of the bones, joints, muscles, and tendons, including arthritis and collagen diseases.

More about Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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See Also: Lupus Nephritis, Immune System

Other terms to know: See all 7
Antibodies, Antigens, Autoimmune Disease

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