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Lupus erythematosus

Lupus erythematosus (also known as systemic lupus erythematosus - SLE) is an autoimmune disorder where antibodies are created against the body's own DNA.

Like some other autoimmune diseases, it affects mostly women and its cause is unknown. It can present with a characteristic butterfly-shaped rash of the face, causing a wolf-like appearance (lupus is Latin for wolf).

The immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal tissue. Lupus is a chronic disease; there are some treatments for the symptoms, but no cure is known. In lupus, autoimmune attacks result in inflammation, which in turn brings about a variety of symptoms.

Other symptoms include kidney damage (nephritis), blood coagulation problems, as well as effects on the central nervous system, lungs, heart and blood vessels.

See also : Abzyme, antinuclear antibody.