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In the quest for safer treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus
Date:6/17/2014

This news release is available in Spanish.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease. It can affect various organs, in particular, the skin, joints and kidneys although it displays great variability in extent and seriousness depending on the patient. Approximately nine out of every ten patients are female and it appears in one woman in every thousand.

As Dr Guillermo Ruiz-Irastorza, head of the Autoimmune Disease Research Unit of the Hospital Universitario Cruces, explained, traditionally lupus has been treated mostly with glucocorticoids (prednisone), despite the fact that its severe side effects have been known for years. "We doctors knew that administering high doses of prednisone in an ongoing way caused irreversible damage like osteoporosis, avascular necrosis of bone, diabetes or cataracts. However, the tendency was to accept these side effects as an inevitable price to pay in exchange for controlling the disease".

Yet recent studies by this same group indicate that lower doses of glucocorticoids could be just as effective. What is more, in more serious forms, pulsed therapy, in other words, the intermittent intravenous administering of high doses is highly effective and probably does not lead to so many adverse effects.

So the researchers at the Hospital Universitario Cruces decided to study the relation between treatment with prednisone administered orally over 4 years from the moment of diagnosis and the damage built up over the first 5 years. To complete the study, they also looked at the effect of another glucocorticoid, methylprednisolone, administered intravenously at high doses and intermittently, at the moments when the disease manifests itself with increased severity.

230 patients, 206 of whom were women,
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Contact: Matxalen Sotillo
komunikazioa@ehu.es
34-688-673-770
University of the Basque Country
Source:Eurekalert  

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