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Systemic Lupus

Clinical Overview

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of a variety of tissues in the body. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that result from attacks of the body’s immune system to its own tissues. Those affected by SLE produce abnormal antibodies within their blood, designed to target tissues of the body, rather than foreign agents.

SLE has the potential to affect various parts of the body, causing disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and/or nervous system. A form of lupus that is isolated to the skin, without internal disease, is called discoid lupus. This disease commonly runs in families, with a greater percentage of females affected. More than half of those with SLE develop a characteristic red, flat facial rash over the bridge of their nose, frequently referred to as the “butterfly rash” because of its shape. While the rash is painless, it can be worsened by exposure to sunlight.

Reviewed by: Michael Fuller, MD

Last updated: Sep-01-09

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