Systemic lupus erythematosus, often abbreviated as SLE or lupus, is a systemic autoimmune disease (or autoimmune connective tissue disease) that can affect any part of the body. As occurs in other autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body's cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage. It is both a type II and a type III hypersensitivity reaction in which bound antibody-antigen pairs (immune complexes) precipitate and cause a further immune response.
SLE most often harms the heart, joints, skin, lungs, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, and nervous system. The course of the disease is unpredictable, with periods of illness (called flares) alternating with remissions. The disease occurs nine times more often in women than in men, especially in women in child-bearing years ages 15 to 35, and is also more common in those of non-European descent.
There is no cure for SLE. It is treated with immunosuppression, mainly with cyclophosphamide, corticosteroids and other immunosuppressants. SLE can be fatal. The leading cause of death is from cardiovascular disease due to accelerated atherosclerosis. Survival for people with SLE in the United States, Canada, and Europe has risen to approximately 95% at five years, 90% at 10 years, and 78% at 20 years, and now approaches that of matched controls without lupus.
- Medical Marijuana is Being Used to Successfully Treat the Symptoms of Lupus in Patients by Zach Reichard (January 7, 2013), Medical Jane
- Systemic lupus erythematosus at Wikipedia. Retrieved September 30, 2014.