Conditioning as an Adjunct in the Pharmacotherapy of Lupus Erythematosus

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1992 Apr;13(2):124-5. doi: 10.1097/00004703-199204000-00008.


Several studies have provided evidence suggesting that "placebo effects" represent conditioning phenomena and that learning processes influence the response to placebo medication. This case report describes an adolescent with severe lupus erythematosus who received cyclophosphamide (CY) paired with taste (cod liver oil) and smell (rose perfume) as conditioned stimuli. The regimen was based on conditioning experiments with animals who had lupuslike autoimmune disease. After the initial pairings, the taste alone was offered between CY treatments. Over 12 months, the patient received six rather than 12 CY treatments, half the cumulative dose that might have been administered. The patient improved clinically, and 5 years later continues to do well.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Association Learning / drug effects
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Conditioning, Classical* / drug effects
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage*
  • Cyclophosphamide / adverse effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / psychology
  • Placebo Effect


  • Cyclophosphamide