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Lupus is a common autoimmune disease that is diagnosed in an estimated 16,000 people each year.

Patients experience pain, extreme fatigue, cognitive issues, hair loss, and physical impairments, as well as facial rashes and painful joints. Because symptoms are common and fairly nonspecific, diagnosis can be delayed.

Lupus occurs more often in women of childbearing age, but is also diagnosed in men, children, and youths. It is more common in women of color – African American women, Latinas, Asians, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islander.

Lupus can be fatal. About 10%-15% of lupus patients will die due to complications of the disease.

Lupus is expensive. Annual direct care costs for lupus patients averaged over $12,000 in 2008, according to one study (Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Dec 15; 59(12): 1788–1795), while productivity loss in working-age patients was estimated at over $8,000.

Questions remain regarding lupus. What causes lupus? Genes play a role, but so do environmental triggers and hormones. What can be done to stave off lupus nephritis, a common and potentially deadly comorbidity? What are potential targets for investigational therapeutics? What can patients do to mitigate against lupus symptoms and thrive despite their chronic disease?

Featured Articles

Avoiding organ damage in lupus care

Belimumab was associated with a lower rate of long-term organ damage than the standard of care, according to research presented at the European Congress of Rheumatology.

Researchers find link between intestinal bacteria and autoimmune disease

Translocation of Enterococcus gallinarum, a gut bacterium, drives a mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus, according to a recent study.

Growing up with lupus carries huge emotional, physical toll

Growing up with lupus carries huge emotional, physical toll

Lupus presents in different ways in young people and requires evolving treatment strategies coupled with ongoing emotional support.

How essential are steroids to treating lupus nephritis?

In Toronto, kidney physician Joanne Bargman, MD, treats a young woman who has lupus nephritis and hates the steroids used to treat flares. The patient doesn’t want to take the vital corticosteroid drugs like prednisone that calm the immune system but can cause weight gain, acne and unwanted hair growth.

Platelets offer promising treatment target

Platelets and their microparticles play important roles in the pathogenesis of lupus and therefore represent promising clinical targets.

Platelet system activation not only denotes disease activity but also induces immune dysregulation and tissue damage in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Understanding the intricate roles platelets play in inflammation and autoimmunity could reveal “new potent therapeutic pathways,” Marc Scherlinger, MD, of Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Bordeaux, France, and his associates (Autoimmun Rev. 2018;17:625-35).