Lupus Has Nerve Shows Large International Study
Lupus Has Nerve Shows Large International Study

January 6, 2020

New research published in Arthritis and Rheumatology shows that peripheral nervous system (PNS) disease is an important part of neuropsychiatric lupus with significant effects on quality of life.  The peripheral nervous system is the network that sends signals between the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) with all the other parts of the body.

Many of the scientists who participated in this study are part of the leadership of the LRA affiliate Lupus Therapeutics and its Lupus Clinical Trials Network (LuCIN).  Conducted at research centers throughout the world, the study assessed 1,827 people with lupus every year over an average of 7.6 years for the frequency of 19 neuropsychiatric events, including seven types of PNS disease. The researchers also measured SLE disease activity, organ damage, and autoantibodies, as well as outcomes as reported by both patients and physicians.

Nearly 8 percent of participants had PNS events. The most common PNS events included three types of neuropathy – a disorder that causes nerve damage. Of those with PNS events, 41.0 percent experienced peripheral neuropathy; 27.3 percent had mononeuropathy, and 24.2 percent had cranial neuropathy Peripheral neuropathy refers to the many conditions that involve damage to the peripheral nervous system. Mononeuropathy is a type of damage to a nerve outside the brain and spinal cord while  cranial neuropathy refers to damage to nerves in the brain or brainstem

People with periphereal neuropathy scored significantly lower than those who had no nerve damage on standard tools that measure physical and mental function. Most of the neuropathies resolved or improved over time.

Study authors concluded: “PNS disease is an important component of total NPSLE and has a significant negative impact on health‐related quality of life. The outcome is favorable for most patients, but our findings indicate that several factors are associated with longer time to resolution.”

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