Impact of tobacco smoking upon disease risk, activity and therapeutic response in systemic lupus erythematosus: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Autoimmun Rev. 2019 Nov;18(11):102393. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2019.102393. Epub 2019 Sep 11.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex disease with variable presentations, course and prognosis. Published studies present conflicting data regarding the impact of cigarette smoking on SLE risk, disease activity, clinical manifestations and treatment response. We performed a comprehensive literature search using Medline, EMBASE and the Cochrane Collaboration database, and hand searches of relevant bibliographies. All original studies investigating the relationship between smoking and SLE were included in TABALUP. Two investigators systematically extracted data from the relevant studies. When possible, meta-analyses were performed. The meta-analysis of 9 case-controls studies show an increased risk of SLE in current-smokers compared to never-smokers (OR: 1.49 [95%CI: 1.06-2.08]), while former-smokers were not at increased risk of SLE. Data on passive smoking remains scarce and controversial. Pooled analysis studies did not find an over-risk of anti-dsDNA, anti-Sm or anti-SSA positivity according to smoking status. Tobacco smoking significantly reduced the therapeutic effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in cutaneous lesions (pooled OR 0.53; 95%CI: 0.305-0.927) and belimumab in systemic manifestations (HR 0.10; 95% CI 0.02-0.43). In addition to its usual adverse effects, cigarette smoking is a risk factor of SLE and negatively influences the course of the disease and its treatment. We believe that smoking cessation should be one of the main target of physicians treating SLE patients.

Keywords: Cigarette smoking; Meta-analysis; Risk; Systematic review; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Tobacco.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine / therapeutic use
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tobacco Smoking / epidemiology*


  • Hydroxychloroquine