Current and emerging strategies for the treatment and management of systemic lupus erythematosus based on molecular signatures of acute and chronic inflammation

J Inflamm Res. 2010:3:143-70. doi: 10.2147/JIR.S9425. Epub 2010 Dec 2.


Lupus is a chronic, systemic inflammatory condition in which eicosanoids, cytokines, nitric oxide (NO), a deranged immune system, and genetics play a significant role. Our studies revealed that an imbalance in the pro- and antioxidants and NO and an alteration in the metabolism of essential fatty acids exist in lupus. The current strategy of management includes administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids. Investigational drugs include the following: 1) belimumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody that specifically recognizes and inhibits the biological activity of B-lymphocyte stimulator, also known as B-cell-activation factor of the TNF family; 2) stem cell transplantation; 3) rituximab, a chimeric monoclonal antibody against CD20, which is primarily found on the surface of B-cells and can therefore destroy B-cells; and 4) IL-27, which has potent anti-inflammatory actions. Our studies showed that a regimen of corticosteroids and cyclophosphamide, and methods designed to enhance endothelial NO synthesis and augment antioxidant defenses, led to induction of long-lasting remission of the disease. These results suggest that methods designed to modulate molecular signatures of the disease process and suppress inflammation could be of significant benefit in lupus. Some of these strategies could be vagal nerve stimulation, glucose-insulin infusion, and administration of lipoxins, resolvins, protectins, and nitrolipids by themselves or their stable synthetic analogs that are known to suppress inflammation and help in the resolution and healing of the inflammation-induced damage. These strategies are likely to be useful not only in lupus but also in other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, ischemia-reperfusion injury to the myocardium, ischemic heart disease, and sepsis.

Keywords: free radicals; lipoxins; lupus; polyunsaturated fatty acids; resolvins; rheumatology.