Neuropsychiatric involvement in systemic lupus erythematosus: A review

Autoimmun Rev. 2021 Apr;20(4):102780. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2021.102780. Epub 2021 Feb 18.


The neuropsychiatric involvement in systemic lupus erythematosus (NPSLE) is a challenge for clinicians, both at a diagnostic and therapeutic level. Although in 1999 the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) proposed a set of definitions for 19 NPSLE syndromes, with the intention of homogenizing the terminology for research purposes and clinical practice, the prevalence of NPSLE varies widely according to different series and is estimated to be between 37 and 95%. This is due to multiple factors such as the unalike definitions used, the diverse design of the studies, type of population, race, type and severity of symptoms, and follow-up of the different cohorts of patients with SLE. In recent years, some authors have tried excluding minor neuropsychiatric manifestations in order to try to reduce this wide variation in the prevalence of NPSLE since they are very prevalent in the general population; others authors have developed various models for the attribution of neuropsychiatric events to SLE that can assist clinicians in this diagnostic process, and finally, some authors developed and validated in 2014 a new algorithm based on the definitions of the ACR that includes the evaluation of the patient's lupus activity together with imaging techniques and the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), with the aim of trying to differentiate the true neuropsychiatric manifestations attributable to SLE. In 2010, the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) developed recommendations for the management of NPSLE. We found abundant literature published later where, in addition to the recommendations for the management of the 19 NPSLE syndromes defined by the ACR, additional recommendations are given for other neurological and/or psychiatric syndromes, conditions, and complications that have been associated to SLE in recent years. We review below the diagnostic and therapeutic management of the different entities.

Keywords: Neuropsychiatric involvement; Neuropsychiatric lupus; SLE activity; Systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / complications
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / epidemiology
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System* / diagnosis
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System* / epidemiology
  • Lupus Vasculitis, Central Nervous System* / therapy
  • Prevalence