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.