Infectious processes and systemic lupus erythematosus

Immunology. 2019 Nov;158(3):153-160. doi: 10.1111/imm.13103. Epub 2019 Aug 30.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune chronic inflammatory disease of unknown etiology, although genetic and environmental factors appear to contribute to its pathogenesis. Specifically, infectious processes are associated with SLE onset and exacerbation. However, we are far from a complete understanding of the interactions between infectious agents and the host, explaining the interest in gathering updated scientific information on this topic. According to the literature, the pathogens most frequently associated with SLE are viruses, notably human endogenous retroviruses, Epstein-Barr virus, parvovirus B19, cytomegalovirus and human immunodeficiency virus type 1, alongside certain bacterial components that can also trigger activation of the immune system. The mechanisms underlying autoreactivity remain unclear but various explanations have been proposed, including immunological changes responsible for infectious processes or molecular mimicry between host structures and those of infectious agents.

Keywords: bacteria; etiology; infection; systemic lupus erythematosus; virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / pathology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / virology
  • Molecular Mimicry*
  • Virus Diseases* / immunology
  • Virus Diseases* / pathology
  • Virus Diseases* / virology
  • Viruses / immunology*