Reversible bone marrow dysplasia in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus

Intern Med. 2008;47(8):737-42. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.47.0607. Epub 2008 Apr 16.


Objective: Several reports of bone marrow dysplasia in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have been published. However, the reports are restricted primarily to descriptions of the erythroid lineage; no follow-up studies have been reported, and the clinical significance of the dysplasias is unknown. Therefore, in the present study, the dysplasias noted in bone marrow aspirates obtained from SLE patients were characterized.

Patients and methods: The smears of bone marrow aspirates obtained from 17 SLE patients who had bone marrow aspiration due to cytopenia (WBC < 1,500/microl, or Hb < 10.5 g/dl, or platelet count < 10 x 10(4)/microl) were examined retrospectively. Of the 17 patients, 4 had a repeat bone marrow aspiration during follow-up. Clinical and laboratory data were obtained from the medical records.

Results: Of the 17 SLE patients, 12 had dysplasias, including: erythroid cell multinuclearity (trinuclear or more) (5 patients), megaloblastoid changes (4), pseudo-Pelger abnormalities (6), annular nuclear myeloid cells (2), separated nuclear megakaryocytes (4), and micromegakaryocytes (5). In the 4 patients who had follow-up bone marrow aspiration, these dysplasias were correlated with disease activity; some abnormalities disappeared with remission of SLE. Diffuse proliferative glomerulonephritis (3 patients) and cerebral lupus/neuropsychiatric lupus (4 patients) were seen only in patients with dysplasia.

Conclusion: This study found that bone marrow dysplasia can be observed in all lineage cells of SLE patients, and that the dysplasia is reversible during the course of the disease. The presence of dysplasias appears to be associated with disease severity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Bone Diseases, Developmental / etiology*
  • Bone Diseases, Developmental / pathology*
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / pathology*
  • Male
  • Megakaryocytes / pathology
  • Megaloblasts / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Myeloid Cells / pathology
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index