The Details

 

SLE and Its Implicated Genetic Factors

SLE is an autoimmune disease with a wide range of manifestations and variable clinical course.  Autoimmune means that the body produces certain proteins called antibodies (or immunoglobulins) which are directed to structures of the body itself, i.e. the body mounts a "attack on itself".  Many organs and systems of the body can be affected - the skin, the mucous and serous membranes, the joints, the kidneys, the blood and its clotting ability, the central nervous system and many others.

SLE is a complex disease with many factors that contribute to its development.  Inherited (genetic) factors are thought to play an important role in the development of the disease.  SLE tends to cluster in certain families.  The risk for a family member of a SLE patient to develop the disease is significantly higher than the risk for the general population.  It is probably that this familial clustering is determined by genetic factors, also called susceptibility genes.  Currently we know very little about their nature, and the mechanism(s) by which they contribute to the development of SLE.

Our hypothesis is that patients who develop SLE very early in their lives have a stronger genetic predisposition.  Thus genetic analysis of such patients and their families may be particularly helpful in the pursuit of the SLE susceptibility genes.