August 12, 2019
A specific antibody target has been identified as causing neuropsychiatric symptoms of lupus, according to a study at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University published in the Journal of Neuroscience. These common symptoms include cognitive impairment, meaning that the person has trouble thinking, learning or remembering. Other symptoms include mood changes, seizures, headaches and psychosis.
The study identified antibodies that disrupt a process that allow the brain to control how it receives, stores and recalls information. These antibodies were found only in the brains of people with lupus.
Much research has been funded by the Lupus Research Alliance to better understand and treat neuropsychiatric lupus. For instance, our 2018 Lupus Insight Prize went to Dr. Betty Diamond at Feinstein Institute for Medical Research to test whether drugs approved for lowering blood pressure may prevent memory loss for people with lupus. In another study funded by the LRA, Dr. Andrea Knight at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is looking at biomarkers for psychiatric disorders among children with lupus.