Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune, inflammatory, multisystem disease of unknown cause. Most commonly, it occurs in women during the childbearing years, ages 15-45. Women are affected ten times more often than men in this age group. However, younger and older individuals can develop lupus, but when children or those over 45 have lupus, women are affected only two times as often as men. Although the cause of lupus is not known, there is a genetic predisposition to developing an autoimmune disease such as lupus. Lupus can present with symptoms for the first time in the setting of an environment trigger such as an infection, medication, or sun exposure. These triggers can also cause a flare of lupus in those with established disease. Most of the time, we cannot identify the specific trigger for an individual patient. Sex hormones, such as estrogen, likely contribute to the appearance of the disease in the susceptible host.
The Lupus Program hopes to help people with lupus live fuller and more rewarding lives so that we can better understand the disease, diagnose patients earlier, use less toxic therapies to treat patients, and ultimately find a cure.