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Open Access Commentary

Discoveries in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric lupus erythematosus: consequences for therapy

Takahisa Gono*, Yasushi Kawaguchi and Hisashi Yamanaka

Author Affiliations

Institute of Rheumatology, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, 10-22 Kawada-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-0054, Japan

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BMC Medicine 2013, 11:91  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-91

Published: 4 April 2013


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multi-system inflammatory disorder characterized by the presence of several autoantibodies, including anti-double-stranded DNA. Neuropsychiatric (NP)LE contributes to the prognosis of SLE, and is divided into 19 NPLE syndromes. Its mechanisms are mediated through autoantibodies, complement components, and cytokines. The pathophysiology and diagnosis of NPLE are diverse and complicated. Recent studies have shown that several autoantibodies cross-react with human brain tissue and cause NPLE symptoms in SLE. It is known that in mice, depression and hippocampus-related memory impairment are induced by anti-ribosomal P antibody and anti-NR2 antibody, respectively. In a BMC Medicine research article, Kivity et al. demonstrated novel work showed that the 16/6 Id antibody impaired visual memory and spatial memory by causing hippocampal injury in mice. Given differences in the cross-reactivity of each autoantibody with the nervous system, the clinical features might be different and diverse in NPLE. Identification of autoantibody targets could lead to the development of novel therapies. Investigators and clinicians should consider not only the inhibition of autoantibody synthesis but also the protection of neuronal cells in the treatment strategy for NPLE.

See related Research article: webcite

Systemic lupus erythematosus; Autoantibody; Cross-reactivity; Neuropsychiatric symptoms