Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease affecting all organ systems. It affects primarily female patients in the reproductive age. The disease has a variable course from very mild to severe and may be fatal. It is characterized by exacerbations of disease activity called flares. Estrogens seem to be involved in SLE pathogenesis as they have multiple immunomodulating properties. In SLE the autoimmune process affects the neuroendocrine axis. Stress modulates disease expression in lupus patients. The disease affects the endocrine system. Hypothyroidism occurs in SLE patients in a higher rate than that of the general population. Hyperthyroidism is also observed in SLE, however, in the rate expected for the general population. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is observed in SLE in a higher rate than that of the general population. Hyperparathyroidism is also observed in SLE, primary and secondary in the context of renal insufficiency due to lupus nephritis. Addison’s disease is rare in SLE. Cushing’s disease due to an adrenal adenoma has been observed, but it is rare. Ovarian function may be compromised in SLE, due to autoimmune oophoritis or drug toxicity. The recognition of endocrine disease in SLE is important as it may guide proper management and symptom amelioration.
Part of the book: Lupus