Epidemiology of systemic lupus erythematosus in Asia

Lupus. 2010 Oct;19(12):1365-73. doi: 10.1177/0961203310374305.


In this paper we aim to review the prevalence, incidence and disease presentation of lupus patients in Asian populations. The database of the National Library of Medicine (MEDLINE) through PUBMED up to September 2009 was searched for relevant articles using the search terms 'systemic lupus erythematosus', 'epidemiology', and 'Asia'. Articles on lupus prevalence, incidence, and clinical manifestations were retrieved and their bibliographies further screened for relevant articles. Proceedings of national, regional, and international rheumatology and SLE conferences were likewise searched for relevant abstracts. Retrieval rate of relevant articles was approximately 80%. Prevalence and incidence figures are expressed per 100,000 populations. Among the articles reviewed, epidemiologic information was usually obtained through population surveys or hospital cohorts. Prevalence data are available from 24 countries, and generally fall within 30-50/100,000 population. However, one survey showed a higher prevalence of 70 (Shanghai), while three others showed a lower prevalence of 3.2-19.3 (India, Japan, Saudi Arabia). Only three countries have recorded incidence rates and these varied from 0.9 to 3.1 per annum. Thirty articles from 21 countries describe lupus disease presentation. Common manifestations include mucocutaneous lesions (seen in 52-98% of patients) and arthritis/musculoskeletal complaints (36-95%). Antinuclear antibodies were generally positive in 89-100% of patients, except for two studies. Renal involvement ranged from 18% to 100% with most articles reporting this in >50% of their patients. Discoid lesions, serositis, and neurologic involvement were the least frequently seen symptoms. There is varying epidemiologic information regarding systemic lupus erythematosus among countries in Asia. Prevalence rates usually fall within 30-50/100,000 population. Incidence rates, as reported from three countries, varied from 0.9/100,000 to 3.1% per annum. It is difficult to make generalizations about how the epidemiologic character of the disease varies from country to country. However, similarities in disease manifestations can be observed. .

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence