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Systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) is a diffuse connective tissue

disease. As the name implies, it affects multiple body systems such as the
skin, joints, kidney, serious membranes of the heart and lungs, lymph nodes,
and GI tract
It is an autoimmune disease in which there person's immune system
loses its ability to recognize itself and mounts an immune response against
its own proteins. Damage results from antibodies and immune complexes
directed against one or many organ systems. The cause of SLE is unknown.
90% of cases occur in women, usually of childbearing age. The disease is
much more common in African Americas, Latinos, and Asians Americans than
in Caucasians Organ damage is progressive in in the disease. The most
common cause of death in these patients is infection and disease of the
cardiovascular system, renal system, pulmonary system, and CNS.
Lupus can be categorized into 2 groups:
Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is characterized by a skin rash only.
It occurs in about 20% of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. The
lesions are patchy, crusty, sharply defined skin plaques that may scar. Biopsy
of a lesion will usually confirm the diagnosis.
Topical and intralesional corticosteroids are usually effective for
localized lesions; antimalarial drugs may be needed for more generalized
lesions. DLE only rarely progresses to systemic lupus erythematosus.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus) is a chronic, inflammatory,
multisystem disorder of the immune system. The course of the disease is
unpredictable and individualized; no two patients are affected alike.
It usually develops in young women of childbearing years, but many
men and children also develop lupus. African-Americans and Hispanics have a
higher frequency of this disease than do Caucasians.