Objective: To determine and compare the prevalence and degree of autonomic (ANP) and sensorimotor neuropathy (SNP) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods: Thirty-one patients with SLE and 19 with SSc were investigated. Pupillary ANP was assessed by pupillometry, cardiovascular ANP using a standardized test battery, and SNP by a standardized clinical examination.
Results: In patients with SLE (SSc), 26% (10.5%) had a pathological pupillary latency time and 6.5% (13.7%) had an abnormal maximal pupillary area (p for the difference between latency time and maximal pupillary area in SLE = 0.040). Thus, patients with SLE had more often lesions of the pupillary parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system. Overall prevalence of ANP was not different between the 2 groups; 29.0% in SLE and 21.1% in SSc for pupillary ANP and 9.7 and 15.7% for cardiovascular ANP, respectively. Overall prevalence of SNP was 6.5% in SLE and 21.1% in SSc. Disease activity was correlated with ANP (p = 0.008) and SNP (p = 0.020) in SLE. Kidney involvement was associated with more severe ANP in patients with SSc (p = 0.031). Duration of the disease did not correlate with any type of neuropathy.
Conclusion: ANP and SNP are often present in SLE and SSc. SLE and SSc differ in the pattern of ANP and SNP, which indicates that different structures and neuropathogenic mechanisms may be involved. Patients with SLE had severe pupillary ANP, probably a sign of central nervous system involvement.