font size

Systemic Lupus (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

What causes systemic lupus erythematosus? Is lupus hereditary?

The precise reason for the abnormal autoimmunity that causes lupus is not known. Inherited genes, viruses, ultraviolet light, and certain medications may all play some role.

Genetic factors increase the tendency of developing autoimmune diseases, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune thyroid disorders are more common among relatives of people with lupus than the general population. Moreover, it is possible to have more than one autoimmune disease in the same individual. Therefore, "overlap" syndromes of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus and scleroderma, etc., can occur.

Some scientists believe that the immune system in lupus is more easily stimulated by external factors like viruses or ultraviolet light. Sometimes, symptoms of lupus can be precipitated or aggravated by only a brief period of sun exposure.

It also is known that some women with SLE can experience worsening of their symptoms prior to their menstrual periods. This phenomenon, together with the female predominance of SLE, suggests that female hormones play an important role in the expression of SLE. This hormonal relationship is an active area of ongoing study by scientists.

Research has demonstrated evidence that a key enzyme's failure to dispose of dying cells may contribute the development of SLE. The enzyme, DNase1, normally eliminates what is called "garbage DNA" and other cellular debris by chopping them into tiny fragments for easier disposal. Researchers turned off the DNase1 gene in mice. The mice appeared healthy at birth, but after six to eight months, the majority of mice without DNase1 showed signs of SLE. Thus, a genetic mutation in a gene that could disrupt the body's cellular waste disposal may be involved in the initiation of SLE.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/13/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Lupus - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of lupus can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
Lupus - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with lupus.
Lupus - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment have you received for your systemic lupus?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/systemic_lupus/article.htm

WebMD Daily

Get breaking medical news.

advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations