Dietary amino acid-induced systemic lupus erythematosus

Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 1991 May;17(2):323-32.


The effects of dietary manipulations on autoimmune disease are understood poorly. In this article, we detail our experience with a human subject who developed autoimmune hemolytic anemia while participating in a research study that required the ingestion of alfalfa seeds. Subsequent experimental studies in primates ingesting alfalfa sprout seeds and L-canavanine (a prominent amino acid constituent of alfalfa) is presented. The results of these studies indicate a potential toxic and immunoregulatory role of L-canavanine in the induction of a systemic lupus-like disease in primates.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Canavanine / adverse effects
  • Diet*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / chemically induced*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / etiology
  • Medicago sativa / adverse effects
  • Primates


  • Amino Acids
  • Canavanine