Update on Biologic Therapies for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2016 Jul;18(7):44. doi: 10.1007/s11926-016-0589-5.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic multisystemic autoimmune disease driven by genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. Despite the advances in diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in the last decades, SLE still leads to significant morbidity and increased mortality. Although a cure for SLE is still unknown, treatment is required to control acute disease exacerbation episodes (flares), decrease the frequency and severity of subsequent lupus flares, address comorbidities, and prevent end-organ damage. While conventional SLE pharmacotherapy may exhibit suboptimal efficacy and substantial toxicity, a growing knowledge of the disease pathogenesis enabled the research on novel therapeutic agents directed at specific disease-related targets. In this paper, we review the recent progress in the clinical investigation of biologic agents targeting B cells, T cells, cytokines, innate immunity, and other immunologic or inflammatory pathways. Although many investigational agents exhibited insufficient efficacy or inadequate safety in clinical trials, one of them, belimumab, fulfilled the efficacy and safety regulatory requirements and was approved for the treatment of SLE in Europe and the USA, which confirms that, despite all difficulties, advances in this field are possible.

Keywords: Autoantibodies; Autoimmune diseases; Biologic therapies; Monoclonal antibodies; Systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Biological Products
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • belimumab