Body composition in systemic lupus erythematosus

Br J Rheumatol. 1998 May;37(5):514-9. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/37.5.514.


The objectives were to determine the body composition, and the effects of disease and corticosteroid therapy on body composition, in a population of female patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). All female SLE patients managed through a single centre were invited to participate in a cross-sectional study of body composition. Data were collected by standardized interview and examination, and review of medical records. Body composition was assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Eighty-two subjects were evaluated, 30 of whom were post-menopausal. Univariate linear regression analysis revealed a significant association of reduced fat-free mass with SLE severity [as measured by the Systemic Lupus International Collaborative Clinics (SLICC)] (P = 0.020), a history of corticosteroid exposure (P = 0.043) and age (P = 0.048). Reduced total body bone mineral density (BMD) was also significantly associated with SLICC (P < 0.001) and corticosteroid exposure (P = 0.017), and with age (P < 0.001), post-menopausal status (P = 0.003) and the duration of menopause (P < 0.001). Stepwise multiple linear regression analysis revealed a significant association between fat-free mass and total body, lumbar spine and femoral neck BMD (P = 0.007, P = 0.025, P = 0.003, respectively). Fat mass was significantly associated only with lumbar spine BMD (P = 0.008). In this SLE population, disease severity and corticosteroid exposure were independently associated with a negative effect both on total body BMD and on fat-free mass. Fat-free mass was a significant predictor of lumbar spine, femoral neck and total body BMD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Composition* / drug effects
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / pathology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause


  • Glucocorticoids