Systemic lupus erythematosus, often abbreviated as SLE or lupus, is a systemic autoimmune disease (or autoimmune connective tissue disease) in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. There are many kinds of lupus. The most common and severe type is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which affects many internal organs in the body. 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 flare-ups) alternating with remissions.
The causes are believed to be environmental, hormonal, or genetic,Which results in a misdirected immune response in people who are genetically susceptible. A normal immune system makes proteins called antibodies that protect against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. Lupus is characterized by the presence of antibodies directed against a person’s own protein; these are most commonly anti-nuclear antibodies, which are found in nearly all cases. These antibodies lead to inflammation.
There is no cure for SLE. It is mainly treated with immune suppressants such as cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids with the aim of keeping symptoms under control. SLE can be fatal to the leading cause of death from cardiovascular disease due to accelerated atherosclerosis. Life expectancy has improved over the decades. Over 90% now survive for more than ten years, many live relatively asymptomatically, and 80-90% can expect to live a normal lifespan. This is due in part to better treatments, but also for identification of milder cases.