Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease. It is characterized by a variable clinical course ranging from mild to fatal disease. It can affect the kidneys. The aim of treatment in SLE is the prevention of flares and the prevention of accumulation of damage to the main organs affected as well as the prevention of drug side effects. The cornerstone of SLE treatment is hydroxychloroquine. Corticosteroids are used both as induction treatment in disease flares as well as in small doses as maintenance treatment. Immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine, methotrexate and mycophenolate mofetil are used as steroid sparing agents. Calcineurin inhibitors, namely tacrolimus and cyclosporin A may also be used as immunosuppressants and steroid sparing agents. Pulse methylprednisolone, along with mycophenolate mofetil and cyclophosphamide are used as induction treatment in lupus nephritis. Rituximab, an anti-CD20 biologic agent may be used in non-renal SLE. In patients insufficiently controlled with hydroxychloroquine, low dose prednisone and/or immunosuppressive agents, belimumab may be used with beneficial effects in non-renal disease and lupus nephritis.
Part of the book: Lupus