The immune system functions as the body defense system against dangerous infections and bacteria. Basically, the immune system keeps the body healthy, and safe. On the other hand, an autoimmune disease is one in which the immune system attacks the body tissues, because it confuses it with a foreign body. An example of an autoimmune disease is Lupus, also known as Systemic Lupus erythematosus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body immune system fights and attacks the body immune system because it fails to recognize it as part of the body tissue. Normally, the function of the immune system is to fight off foreign organisms or tissues in the body, such as implanted tissues, bacteria and so on. However, the immune system due to some reasons, attacks the body own tissues, leading to serious and severe damages. This is what happens in systemic lupus erythematosus. Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic disease, that often presents with phases of mild symptoms that are interjected with phases of severe symptoms. The attack on the body tissues leads to inflammatory reactions in many organs of the body such as the kidney, liver, heart, lungs, cardiovascular system and the brain. Symptoms might vary in patients, but the most common symptoms are severe tiredness, arthritis, fever, skin conditions such as rashes, hair loss, and kidney problems. The exact cause of systemic lupus erythematosus is not known yet, however, genetics and environmental factors have implicated as some of the factors that could cause the development of the disease. Systemic lupus erythematosus has no cure, for now, however, a lot of research is presently ongoing, with the achievement of success so far.
What are the signs and symptoms of Systemic lupus erythematosus?
The various signs and symptoms of Lupus changes over time and can manifest in different ways. It is a disease that usually affects many organ systems in the body. This disease is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms are often mistaken for other diseases. Systemic lupus erythematosus does present with a wide range of symptoms that cuts across many systems. Some of the initial symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus are fever, pains in the joint, pains in the muscle and tiredness. However, because of the commonness of these symptoms, they are not used as criteria for diagnosing the disease. Even though Systemic lupus erythematosus occurs in both sexes, it’s more predominant in women than men. While males tend to have symptoms such as seizures, renal problems and inflammation of the lung and heart linings, rash and neuropathies, women tend to present with symptoms such as low leukocyte count, joint inflammation and pain, psychological and psychiatric disorders and lastly, Raynaud’s phenomenon. Below are the ways this disease affects the systems of the body;
Musculoskeletal system: The most commonly affected part of the musculoskeletal system affected by Systemic lupus erythematosus is the joints. Patients usually experience joint pain, in the hands, wrist and other joints of the body. Over ninety percent of those affected by this disease would have this kind of pain. When compared to rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus does not do severe damages to the joints of the body. Only about 7% of patients with arthritis do eventually develop hands and feet deformities.
Skin: Over seventy percent of people affected by Systemic lupus erythematosus does present with skin problems. There are three categories of lesions that can be induced by this disease. These are; chronic cutaneous lupus, subacute cutaneous lupus, and acute cutaneous lupus. People that present with the discoid cutaneous lupus does experience some scaly thick and red patches on the skin. Subacute cutaneous lupus, in a similar fashion to discoid lupus, also presents as red and thick scaly patches but with clear and distinct edges, on the other hand, the acute cutaneous lupus presents with a rash. One of the most common skin presentations is the butterfly pattern malar rash that accompanies the disease. This shows in about thirty to sixty percent of people affected by the disease.
Blood: Systemic lupus erythematosus presents as Anemia, especially in children. In addition to this, patients do experience thrombocytopenia and low white blood cell count. People with this disease may also have some connection with the autoimmune disease called antiphospholipid antibody syndrome; a condition in which the antibodies attack the normal blood proteins leading to the abnormal and increased formation of clots in the blood vessels. The anti-cardiolipin antibody can be found in the diagnosis of Systemic lupus erythematosus.
Pulmonary system: Systemic lupus erythematosus can cause inflammation of the pleurae of the lungs. This can lead to a condition known as the shrinking lung syndrome. This disease can also cause some discomfort due to pleurisy, and also reduce the volume of the lungs. Other complications that could be caused by the Systemic lupus erythematosus include pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary emboli, and hemorrhage.
Renal system: The presence of blood and protein might be the only presenting symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus in the kidney. In addition, this condition can also cause acute lupus nephritis, which would lead to acute or end-stage renal failure. This happens in less than 5% of occurrences. However, this tends to be higher in among the black population. One way of diagnosing this is the “wire loop” sign that is associated with membranous glomerulonephritis.
Reproductive system: Systemic lupus erythematosus increases the risk of having a miscarriage, in pregnant women affected by the disease. Miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy before the 20 weeks of the gestation period.
What are the causes of Systemic lupus erythematosus?
The causes of systemic lupus erythematosus are known yet, however, genetics and environmental factors have been linked to the development of this disease.
Genetics: There has not been any evidence to prove this, but people who have had relatives that suffered from this disease, usually do have a high risk of having systemic lupus erythematosus.
Environmental factors: There are some factors that can induce the development of this disease. Some of these factors are
b. Some drug medications
c. Viral infections
d. Traumatic events
is systemic lupus erythematosus currently treated?
There is no cure for this disease, however, treatment can be given to ease the symptoms of the disease. Some medications that can be used are topical steroid creams for skin problems, corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of pains and joint rigidity.
Stem cell therapy of systemic lupus erythematosus
Mesenchymal stem cells that cannot be attacked by the body immune system, have proved to be useful and effective for the treatment of this disease. Stem cells have the ability to self-regenerate, repair tissues and regulate the immune reactions. The undifferentiated cells can help to replace and repair the tissues damaged by the antibodies. Significant progress is being recorded in this study.
262 Longitudinal Assessment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity: British Isles Lupus Assessment Group 2004, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index 2000 or Both?. (2016). Rheumatology.
Barfield, C. (1980). Discoid Lupus Erythematosus and Tuberculosis Simulating Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Archives of Internal Medicine, 140(5), p.715.
Fox, R. (1979). Systemic lupus erythematosus. Association with previous neonatal lupus erythematosus. Archives of Dermatology, 115(3), pp.340-340.
Systemic lupus erythematosus and antiphospholipid syndrome. (2016). Rheumatology.
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