Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE) is a condition of chronic
inflammation caused by an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are
illnesses that occur when the body's tissues are attacked by its own immune
The precise reason for the abnormal autoimmunity that causes lupus
is not known. Inherited genes, viruses, ultraviolet light, and drugs may all
play some role. The genes some people inherit seem to increase the tendency of developing autoimmune diseases, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and immune thyroid disorders are more common among relatives of patients with lupus than the general population. Some scientists believe that the immune system in lupus patients is more easily stimulated by external factors like viruses or ultraviolet light. Sometimes, symptoms of lupus can be precipitated or aggravated by only a brief period of sun exposure.
Research provides direct evidence that a key enzyme's failure to dispose of dying cells contributes to SLE. Accordingly, a genetic mutation that disrupts the body's cellular waste disposal may be involved in the beginning of SLE.
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