Systemic lupus erythematosus: from genes to organ damage

Methods Mol Biol. 2010;662:265-83. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-800-3_13.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a disease characterized by inappropriate response to self-antigens. Genetic, environmental and hormonal factors are believed to contribute to the development of the disease. We think of SLE pathogenesis as occurring in three phases of variable duration. A series of regulatory failures during the ontogeny of the immune system lead to the emergence of auto-reactive clones and the production of auto-antibodies (phase I). As the immune response to self-antigens broadens, the auto-antibody repertoire is enriched (phase II) and clinical manifestations eventually ensue (phase III). The final result is tissue damage that if not treated will lead to the functional failure of such important organs as the kidney and brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / epidemiology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / etiology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / genetics*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / therapy
  • Male
  • Sex Distribution


  • Cytokines
  • Complement System Proteins