Leveraging the United States Epicenter to Provide Insights on COVID-19 in Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2020 Dec;72(12):1971-1980. doi: 10.1002/art.41450. Epub 2020 Oct 28.


Objective: To characterize patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and to analyze associations of comorbidities and medications on infection outcomes.

Methods: Patients with SLE and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction-confirmed COVID-19 were identified through an established New York University lupus cohort, query of 2 hospital systems, and referrals from rheumatologists. Data were prospectively collected via a web-based questionnaire and review of medical records. Data on baseline characteristics were obtained for all patients with COVID-19 to analyze risk factors for hospitalization. Data were also collected on asymptomatic patients and those with COVID-19-like symptoms who tested negative or were not tested. Statistical analyses were limited to confirmed COVID-19-positive patients.

Results: A total of 226 SLE patients were included: 41 with confirmed COVID-19, 19 who tested negative for COVID-19, 42 with COVID-19-like symptoms who did not get tested, and 124 who remained asymptomatic without testing. Of the SLE patients with confirmed COVID-19, hospitalization was required in 24 (59%) and intensive care unit-level of care in 4, and 4 died. Hospitalized patients tended to be older, nonwhite, Hispanic, have higher body mas index (BMI), history of nephritis, and at least 1 comorbidity. An exploratory (due to limited sample size) logistic regression analysis identified race, presence of at least 1 comorbidity, and BMI as independent predictors of hospitalization.

Conclusion: In general, the variables predictive of hospitalization in our SLE patients were similar to those identified in the general population. Further studies are needed to understand additional risk factors for poor COVID-19 outcomes in patients with SLE.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States