Lupus affects the brain very early in the disease

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Results of a brain imaging study suggest that the brain may be affected very early in the course of lupus, even before the disease is diagnosed.

Lupus, technically known as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, is a chronic “autoimmune” disease in which the immune system can confuse healthy and foreign tissues and sometimes attacks both. The condition can vary widely in severity, manifesting as skin rash and arthritis or leading to damage to the kidneys, heart, lungs and brain to varying degrees. There is no cure.

Among a group of 97 patients with newly diagnosed SLE, 25 percent had brain abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers found. All of the patients were within 9 months of being diagnosed with SLE.

These observations indicate that “lupus affects the brain even in newly diagnosed patients,” study chief Dr. Michelle Petri of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, told Reuters Health. “We were shocked actually; we thought it took more time for lupus to involve the brain,” she acknowledged.

Brain atrophy (wasting), the most common abnormality seen on MRI, was present in 18 percent of patients with newly detected SLE, and focal brain lesions were present in 8 percent of study subjects.

Anxiety disorder was more common in patients who had signs of brain wasting. “Our study suggests that there may be a relationship between brain volume loss and anxiety,” the investigators note.

Given the high frequency of neurological and psychiatric SLE manifestations and structural brain abnormalities, more research is urgently needed to determine the underlying cause of these changes, “in order to develop rational treatment options,” the team concludes.

SOURCE: Journal of Rheumatology, December 2008.


Related Posts:

By Nancy Ehrlich Lapid NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Psychiatric and neurologic disorders are common in patients with lupus, and new research confirms that problems with attention, memory, and reasoning are present even in lupus patients without overt brain manifestations of the disease. Lupus, technically known as systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, is a chronic “autoimmune” disease

Full Post: Subtle brain deficits seen in lupus patients

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - French researchers have shown that patients with fibromyalgia have abnormal blood flow in the brain, which may be related to the underlying cause of the condition. “We found brain functional differences between patients with fibromyalgia and those who do not have the disorder,” lead investigator Dr. Eric Guedj told Reuters Health.

Full Post: Fibromyalgia patients show brain abnormalities

Lupus is a known autoimmune disease where the immune system instead of attacking the foreign invaders ends up attacking the healthy body tissues. This occurrence is predominant in women more than in men. Lupus is categorized in different types out of which the most common one is known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Researchers are

Full Post: Home Remedies for Lupus

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Depression, anxiety and certain other mental health conditions are more common among infertile couples than those who are able to conceive on their own, a small study suggests. The findings, say researchers, imply that routine mental health screening could benefit patients being treated for infertility. While most of the 81 infertile couples

Full Post: Mental woes more common in infertile couples

By Megan Rauscher NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Depression and the chronic pain syndrome fibromyalgia are common in patients who suffer from chronic Lyme disease and seem to correlate with poor functional outcomes, results of a study indicate. The term chronic Lyme disease describes patients with persistent Lyme disease despite prior treatment with a conventional 2- to

Full Post: Depression, pain may accompany chronic Lyme disease

Site Navigation

Most Read