Neuropsychiatric Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A 2021 Update on Diagnosis, Management, and Current Challenges

Cureus. 2021 Sep 14;13(9):e17969. doi: 10.7759/cureus.17969. eCollection 2021 Sep.


Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) experience neuropsychiatric symptoms. The term neuropsychiatric SLE (NPSLE) is a generic term that refers to a series of neurological and psychiatric symptoms directly related to SLE. In approximately 30% of patients with neuropsychiatric symptoms, SLE is the primary cause (NPSLE), and symptoms manifest more frequently around SLE onset. Neurovascular and psychotic conditions can also lead to NPSLE. Pathogenesis of NPSLE is implicated in both neuroinflammatory and ischemic mechanisms, and it is associated with high morbidity and mortality. After diagnosing and assigning causality, NPSLE treatment is individualized according to the type of neuropsychiatric manifestations, type of the predominant pathway, activity of SLE, and severity of the clinical manifestations. There are many problems to be addressed with regards to the diagnosis and management of NPSLE. Controlled clinical trials provide limited guidance for management, and observational cohort studies support symptomatic, antithrombotic, and immunosuppressive agents. The purpose of this review was to provide a detailed and critical review of the literature on the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of NPSLE. This study aimed to identify the shortcoming in diagnostic biomarkers, novel therapies against NPSLE, and additional research needs.

Keywords: clinical presentation; cns lupus; diagnosis; management; neuropsychiatric sle; pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review