Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect multiple organs and systems in the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, and heart.
The diagnosis of SLE is based on the combination of clinical symptoms, laboratory findings, and specific characteristics of the disease. There is no single test that confirms the diagnosis, so a complete evaluation of the patient must be carried out, including a physical examination, blood tests and imaging tests. Some common tests that can help confirm the diagnosis include tests for antinuclear antibodies (ANA), anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies (anti-dsDNA), serum complement, and skin and kidney biopsies.
There are different phenotypes of SLE, which are differentiated by the organs and systems of the body that are affected. Some of the more common phenotypes include:
Cutaneous SLE: characterized by skin involvement, which may present lesions such as rashes or blisters.
Articular SLE: characterized by involvement of the joints, which can cause pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
Renal SLE: Characterized by involvement of the kidneys, which can cause kidney failure and other related problems.
Neurological SLE: characterized by involvement of the nervous system, which can cause symptoms such as headaches, memory problems, and seizures.
The treatment of SLE depends on the phenotype and the severity of the disease. The main goal of treatment is to control symptoms, prevent complications, and improve the patient's quality of life. Some treatment options include:
Immunosuppressants: hydroxychloroquine, azathioprine or methotrexate, which can help reduce the activity of the immune system.
Corticosteroids: such as prednisone, used to control inflammation in different parts of the body in acute flare-ups in case remission is not achieved with immunosuppressants
Biological therapy: such as rituximab or belimumab, which are used to block certain proteins that can contribute to inflammation.
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