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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 

Image showing butterfly rash of SLE. Courtesy JAMA.

Image showing butterfly rash typical of SLE. Courtesy JAMA.

What Is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease that is characterized by involvement of multiple organs due to the production of antibodies to components of the cell nucleus.1 SLE has an unpredictable course of acute flare-ups and remissions.

Severity depends on the extent of organs affected with skin and nail involvement, called discoid lupus, being the least serious and inflammmation of the kidney, called lupus nephritis, being the worst.

Nevetheless, a classic presentation is development of a rash over the cheeks and nose that resembles a butterfy with wings spread hence the name “butterfly rash.”

Symptoms are many and varied depending on the tissues affected and are often not specific, for example hair loss has a variety of causes. Symptoms can be confused by co-existence with other autoimmune disease such as Sjogren’s syndrome.

Systemic lupus erythematosus should be managed by a specialist. Symptoms can be controlled with steroid therapy, but this disease can be a cause of premature death  mainly from active disease, organ failure (e.g., kidneys), infection, or cardiovascular disease from accelerated atherosclerosis.

Certain common medicines known to cause drug-induced lupus are:

  • Isoniazid
  • Hydralazine
  • Procainamide

Other less common drugs may also cause the condition. These may include:

  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Capoten
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Etanercept
  • Infliximab
  • Methyldopa
  • Minocycline
  • Penicillamine
  • Quinidine
  • Sulfasalazine

Symptoms tend to occur after taking the drug for at least 3 to 6 months.2

Although there is a strong familial aggregation, the disease is relatively uncommon and most cases are sporadic.3 According to the Center for Diseases (CDC), lupus most commonly affects women of childbearing age but also occurs in infants, children, adolescents, and men with peak occurrence between ages 15 and 40. Blacks (and possibly Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans) are affected more than Whites.

What Is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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  1. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/lupus.htm 

  2. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000446.htm 

  3. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/lupus.htm