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Research Identifies Four Different Lupus Subgroups

by | Oct 19, 2021

New research finds there are four distinct sub-types of lupus based on one’s autoantibody profile. Autoantibodies are types of immune-system cells that attack the body’s normal cells, and there are several different types of autoantibodies that commonly occur in lupus. This latest study shows that one’s autoantibody profile (the mix of specific types of autoantibodies one has), along with the types of genes they have, can identify different subgroups within lupus.

Researchers analyzed data from 911 people with lupus. They looked at 13 different lupus-associated autoantibodies, gene types and clinical symptoms and diagnoses and discovered four distinct lupus groupings, or “clusters”, each with its own predominant autoantibody profile and a strong association with a specific gene:

  • Subgroup 1 was more likely to present with discoid lesions (disc-shaped skin damage)
  • Subgroup 2 was most commonly characterized by nephritis (kidney disease)
  • Subgroup 3 experienced more vascular events (like stroke or heart attack)
  • Subgroup 4 was the least common cluster, included the fewest number of males and was associated with the highest age at lupus diagnosis

These four distinct lupus subgroups suggest that there may be several different disease pathways involved in the development and progression of lupus, which could influence how people with the disease are diagnosed and treated in the future. To learn more about what causes lupus and different types of the disease, read Understanding Lupus: A Guide.

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