Ultraviolet radiation and systemic lupus erythematosus

Lupus. 2014 May;23(6):588-95. doi: 10.1177/0961203314530488.


Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is among the environmental factors that have been proposed and studied in association with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). While it is known that UV radiation exposure may exacerbate pre-existing lupus, it remains unclear whether UV exposure is a risk factor for the development of SLE. Experimental studies show a significant immunomodulatory role for UV radiation, but strong epidemiologic data regarding its role in triggering SLE onset are lacking. Further studies are needed to assess the role of UV radiation in relation to development of incident SLE, yet they are challenging to design due to difficulties in accurate exposure assessment, the heterogeneous nature of SLE, and the challenge of assessing photosensitivity, a feature of SLE, which often precedes its diagnosis.

Keywords: SLE; UV; Ultraviolet radiation; environmental exposure; systemic lupus erythematosus; vitamin D.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity / radiation effects
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / epidemiology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / metabolism
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*
  • Vitamin D / immunology
  • Vitamin D / metabolism


  • Vitamin D