Objective: To determine predictive factors associated with the cognitive dysfunction in patients with inactive systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: Consecutive patients followed at the Lupus Clinic with inactive SLE (SLE Disease Activity Index, SLEDAI, = 0) underwent a battery of neuropsychological tests; Beck Depression Inventory and psychiatric assessment were also performed. Neurocognitive dysfunction was defined as 3 abnormal scores. Data were analyzed using chi-square tests, ANOVA tests, and logistic regression.
Results: Twenty-five of the 58 patients with SLE (43%) versus 9 of 47 healthy controls (19%) demonstrated neurocognitive dysfunction (p < 0.01). Neurocognitive dysfunction was not associated with depression or a psychiatric diagnosis, use of steroids, or previous or current evidence for fibromyalgia. SLEDAI > 10 at first presentation to the Lupus Clinic and previous vasculitis were associated with neurocognitive dysfunction, but previous central nervous system disease, renal disease, renal damage, or atherosclerotic complications were not. Neurophysiologic studies at the time of the assessment were not predictive of neurocognitive dysfunction.
Conclusion: Patients with inactive SLE demonstrate neurocognitive dysfunction. This is associated with more disease activity at presentation, but is not associated with specific organ involvement or organ damage.