Childhood Onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: How Is It Different From Adult SLE?

Int J Rheum Dis. 2015 Feb;18(2):182-91. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.12419. Epub 2014 Jun 26.


About 20% of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) starts in childhood and children have less gender bias in favor of females as compared to adults. Systemic manifestations, nephritis, neuro-psychiatric disease and cytopenias are more common in children at presentation than adults. Since most children develop lupus in their early adolescence, dealing with the diagnosis of an unpredictable lifelong disease during this phase of life is challenging. Physicians must recognise specific medical and social needs of this age group, for optimal long-term outcome. Steroids and immunosuppressive drugs are the cornerstone for treatment in children as with adults with lupus. The outcome has improved considerably with these drugs and 10-year survival is nearly 90%. Due to longer life spans more damage accrues in children as compared to adults. Most of the drugs are associated with significant toxicity and the goal of having a drug which reduces disease activity and damage without hampering normal growth, development and fertility is still an elusive one. The current review focuses on clinical and immunological aspects of childhood SLE and how it differs from adulthood SLE.

Keywords: autoantibodies; complications; nephritis; neuropsychiatric; pediatric; systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Disease Progression*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / epidemiology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Needs Assessment
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunosuppressive Agents