Factors and comorbidities associated with first neuropsychiatric event in systemic lupus erythematosus: does a risk profile exist? A large multicentre retrospective cross-sectional study on 959 Italian patients

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2012 Jan;51(1):157-68. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ker310. Epub 2011 Nov 10.


Objective: To analyse risk factors and comorbidities potentially associated with CNS involvement in a large cohort of Italian patients affected by SLE.

Methods: A number of generic (not strictly SLE related) and specific (disease related) risk factors to which all patients have been exposed in the span of 5 years before the first neuropsychiatric (NP) event or before the last available observation were checked for and their distribution was analysed in 959 SLE patients with and without NP involvement; all the first NP events that occurred in a time frame of 10 years were recorded and categorized as SLE related or SLE unrelated.

Results: Three hundred and twenty-six SLE patients with and 633 SLE patients without NP manifestations were included in the study. A total of 469 NP events were recorded. Headache (26.1%), cerebrovascular events (22.7%), mood disorders (8.9%), seizures (14.4%) and cognitive dysfunctions (9.5%) were the most frequent SLE-related NP events. More risk factors [mean 4.52 (2.44) vs 3.73 (2.01); P < 0.0001] were observed in patients with than without NP involvement. Overall, aPLs, LA and APS were factors more strongly associated with NP involvement.

Conclusions: In SLE, NP involvement and aPLs were confirmed as closely related. Furthermore, other modifiable generic risk factors, such as hypertension, carotid vasculopathy and dyslipidaemia, appeared to be related to the occurrence of cerebral vascular accident (CVA) and cognitive dysfunctions, suggesting the need for a more intensive preventive strategy to optimize the management of NP lupus.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / blood
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / psychology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Comorbidity
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Headache Disorders / epidemiology
  • Headache Disorders / etiology
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System / complications
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System / epidemiology
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / etiology


  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • Biomarkers