Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterised by the loss of self-tolerance and formation of nuclear autoantigens and immune complexes resulting in inflammation of multiple organs. The clinical presentation of SLE is heterogeneous, can involve one or more organs, including the skin, kidneys, joints, and nervous system, and take a chronic or relapsing and remitting disease course. SLE is most common in women and in those of non-white ethnicity. Because of the multitude of presentations, manifestations, and serological abnormalities in patients with SLE, diagnosis can be challenging. Therapeutic approaches predominantly involve immunomodulation and immunosuppression and are targeted to the specific organ manifestation, with the aim of achieving low disease activity. Despite many treatment advances and improved diagnostics, SLE continues to cause substantial morbidity and premature mortality. Current management strategies, although helpful, are limited by high failure rates and toxicity. An overreliance on corticosteroid therapy contributes to much of the long-term organ damage. In this Seminar, we outline the classification criteria for SLE, current treatment strategies and medications, the evidence supporting their use, and explore potential future therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas