Cognitive dysfunction in autoimmune rheumatic diseases

Arthritis Res Ther. 2020 Apr 15;22(1):78. doi: 10.1186/s13075-020-02180-5.


For people with chronic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (AIRD), such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or systemic sclerosis (SSc), normal cognitive functions are essential for performing daily activities. These diseases may be associated with cognitive dysfunction (CD). In RA, CD has been associated with age, lower education and disease duration and activity. Great advances have been achieved in neuropsychiatric SLE in the identification of pathogenic pathways, assessment and possible treatment strategies. SSc rarely exerts direct effects on the brain and cognitive function. However, the psychological burden that includes depression, anxiety and social impact may be high. AIRD patients with sustained disease activity, organ damage or lower education should be evaluated for CD. The control of systemic inflammation together with tailored behavioural cognitive therapies may benefit these patients.

Keywords: Cognitive dysfunction; Cognitive function; Neuropsychiatric lupus; Rheumatoid arthritis; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Systemic sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Rheumatic Diseases / complications*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / psychology