Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), also known as discoid lupus or disseminated lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune disease which affects the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs. Although “lupus” includes a number of different diseases, SLE is the most common type of lupus.
SLE is a disease with a wide array of clinical manifestations including rash, photosensitivity, oral ulcers, arthritis, inflammation of the lining surrounding the lungs and heart, kidney problems, seizures and psychosis, and blood cell abnormalities. Symptoms can vary and can change over time and are not disease specific which makes diagnosis difficult.
It occurs from infancy to old age, with peak occurrence between ages 15 and 40. The reported prevalence of SLE in the population is 20 to 150 cases per 100,000. In women, prevalence rates vary from 164 (white) to 406 (African American) per 100,000. Due to improved detection of mild disease, the incidence nearly tripled in the last 40 years of the 20th century. Estimated incidence rates are 1 to 25 per 100,000 in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
The exact cause of SLE is not known, but several factors have been associated with the disease. People with lupus often have family members with other autoimmune conditions. There may be environmental triggers like ultraviolet rays, certain medications, a virus, physical or emotional stress, and trauma.
There is no cure for SLE and the treatment is to ease the symptoms. These will vary depending on expressed symptoms and may include anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, corticosteroids and anti-malarial drugs. Survival has been improving, suggesting that more or milder cases are being recognised. OBD has been developing prognostic signatures for SLE.