Systemic lupus erythematosus is a remarkable and challenging disorder. Its diversity of clinical features is matched by the complexity of the factors (genetic, hormonal, and environmental) that cause it, and the array of autoantibodies with which it is associated. In this Seminar we reflect on changes in its classification criteria; consider aspects of its more serious clinical expression; and provide a brief review of its aetiopathogenesis, major complications, coping strategies, and conventional treatment. Increased understanding of the cells and molecules involved in the development of the diseases has encouraged the identification of new, better targeted biological approaches to its treatment. The precise role of these newer therapies remains to be established.
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