Lupus More Severe with Southern European Ancestry
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients with a higher percentage of ancestry from southern Europe have more severe disease manifestations, according to new research presented today at EULAR 2008, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Paris, France.
According to the results of the research, northern European ancestry is shown to be associated with the relatively milder skin manifestations of SLE, whereas southern European ancestry contributes to more severe manifestations of the disorder such as nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) and increased production of specific autoantibodies (antibodies that fail to recognize and therefore attack the body's own cells, tissues or organs).
Professor Lindsey A. Criswell of the University of California, San Francisco, USA, who led the study, said: "Exploring the ancestry and genetic make-up of patients in relation to their disease today helps us to better understand the complex nature of SLE and why it manifests itself differently in different people. This study shows a clear correlation between specific European ancestry and SLE disease severity and autoantibody production, which may further assist in understanding the risk factors for this condition and should help us better understand and manage this disease in the future."
Researchers in this study examined 1,270 SLE patients and 1,409 genome-wide markers informative for northern versus southern European ancestry were then analyzed to estimate the percentage of northern European ancestry for each subject. The association between northern European ancestry and specific SLE disease factors, including autoantibody production, nephritis, arthritis and skin manifestations was then explored.
Northern European ancestry was positively associated with photosensitivity and discoid rash, which are relatively mild manifestations of SLE. It was inversely associated with antinuclear autoantibodies, anticardiolipin antibodies, arthritis, and renal disorder.
This article was adapted from a press release issued by European League Against Rheumatism