Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as SLE, is a devastating systemic autoimmune disease. It occurs when the body’s immune system begins attaching healthy tissues around an entire bodily system.
This condition can affect nearly every organ and system in the body. Most commonly, SLE affects the skin, the joints, the kidneys, the intestinal system and also the central nervous system by any other organ may be also involved. Because of this, the symptoms can vary greatly from patient to patient, depending on the site and the extent of the damage.
Symptoms of SLE
The most common unifying symptom among patients with lupus is pain. Chronic fatigue, weight loss, hair loss, and malaise are also very common. Beyond that, the disease tends to flare up periodically. When it does, it usually brings about the following symptoms:
- A butterfly-shaped malar rash and sensitivity to sun, when there is skin involvement
- Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, if the disease affects the digestive system.
- Chest pain and difficulty breathing, when there is respiratory involvement
- Edema in the lower extremities, if it affects the kidneys
- Anemia and thrombocytopenia
- Raynaud’s phenomenon if the circulatory system is affected
- Seizures, headaches, and neuropsychiatric disorders, when the brain is involved.
Causes of SLE
The immediate trigger of SLE flare-ups is a disorder of the immune system. Here, the body’s own adaptive immunity recognizes certain tissues in the body as “non-self” and begins to attack healthy tissues.
It is believed that this happens due to a combination of genetic predisposition and possibly also unknown environmental conditions. It is 10 times more common among women than in men, which suggests that there may be a hormonal component as well.
People with lupus have intense B-Cell activation, and often a large amount of immature B cells, and typical auto-antibodies help to confirm the diagnose SLE.
Traditional Treatment of SLE
Systemic lupus erythematosus is considered an incurable chronic condition, with periodic flare-ups and progression of the disease. These can usually be managed by treatment with corticosteroids, immunosuppressive agents, cytotoxic agents and sometimes additional anti-inflammatory agents.
Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Treatment of SLE
Since Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSCs) can safely induce very potent anti-inflammatory and regulatory effects, treatment with MSCs can disrupt the inflammatory cascade caused by the patient’s own immune system and help minimize the dose of corticosteroids needed to control SLE.