Association Between Serum Trace Element Concentrations and the Disease Activity of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus. 2014 Jul;23(8):793-801. doi: 10.1177/0961203314530792. Epub 2014 Apr 23.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with a complex, incompletely understood, etiology. Several genetic and environmental factors are suspected to be involved in its aetiology. Oxidative stress may be implicated in the pathogenesis of SLE and may be affected by trace element status. Zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) and selenium (Se) are essential components of several anti-oxidative enzymes and are also involved in several immune functions. The current study aimed to assess the relationship between serum concentrations of these trace elements and the clinical disease activity of SLE assessed using the SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI). Serum concentrations of albumin (Alb) (p = 0.001), Se (p = 0.001), Zn (p = 0.001) and the Zn to Cu ratio (Zn/Cu R) (p = 0.001) were lower in patients with SLE than the age- and sex-matched healthy controls. However, only Alb (p = 0.001) and Cu (p = 0.03) were negatively correlated with disease activity, which was supported by regression analysis. In summary, lower serum values of Alb, Zn, Se and Zn/Cu R were found in SLE patients compared with healthy controls; however, in addition to serum Alb concentrations, serum Cu concentrations were also negatively correlated with lupus disease activity.

Keywords: SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI); ceruloplasmin; copper; selenium; systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); trace element; zinc; zinc to copper ratio.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / etiology*
  • Male
  • Trace Elements / blood*


  • Trace Elements