Monday, 5 December 2016

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which is where the body's antibodies attack healthy cells by mistaking them for pathogens. There are around 5 million sufferers of Lupus around the world, making it one of the most common autoimmune diseases.

In the autoimmune attack, the antibodies produced by the body are referred to as autoantibodies which are specific in targeting the body's own proteins. These antibodies may attach to the antigens of healthy body cells causing them to become targets for attack by white blood cells. As a result this leads to damage to the body's organs and tissues that are associated with the condition as the autoantibodies travel in the bloodstream and eventually enter through permeable plasma membranes of cells. The autoantibodies then attack the cells DNA by entering the nucleus which leads to inflammation. 

Lupus may cause a myriad of symptoms conning it the name 'The Great Imitator' of other conditions. The most common of these symptoms being fatigue, rashes and joint pain. The symptoms differ depending on what area of the body are affected by the condition, which ranges from the heart to the kidneys. The other less common symptom include: chest pain, abdominal pain, depression, recurring  mouth ulcers, memory loss, seizures and high blood pressure to name a few. Due to the nature of the disease, sufferers may experience fluctuating periods of seeming recovery and strong symptoms.
Symptoms of Lupus
For autoimmune diseases, the most common form of diagnosis is through an ANA (antinuclear antibody) panel test. This essentially identifies any antibodies in the blood that may have been released as part of an autoimmune response, and therefore the test cannot diagnose exactly which of the autoimmune diseases the sufferer may have but can only provide either a positive or negative result. The doctor would carry out further tests to achieve a final diagnosis. The accuracy rate is high, with 95% of Lupus sufferers receiving a positive result.
Image of immunofluorescence staining of antinuclear antibodies
There are more cases of women developing Lupus than men which has led some scientists to research a possible link between increased oestrogen levels and the condition. In fact, nine out of ten cases of Lupus are found in women, although so far no conclusive link has been made with the menstrual hormone.

Currently, Lupus is a chronic disease and therefore cannot be cured but only treated with medication. The inflammation that characterises the condition can be with Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibruprofen, naproxen and diclofenac. Furthermore, immunosuppressants are also effective in reducing the symptoms caused by Lupus, however as the drugs are cause many side effects it is often only prescribed only for severe cases.


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Nucleus medical media. (2013) .Lupus. [Video] Youtube (2016). Retrieved 12 December, 2016, from

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