From Our Archives

Lupus - It's In The Genes (At Least Partly)

Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

We are who we are. This statement might be interpreted as emphasizing the influence that the genetic makeup we inherit from our parents has on our bodies. More and more, scientists are finding that many health conditions result from the pre-programmed coding of the genes that we receive from our ancestors.

Systemic lupus erythematosus ( lupus, or SLE) is an autoimmune disorder that features chronic inflammation of the body's tissues. Autoimmune disorders are illnesses that occur when the body's tissues are attacked by its own immune system. What causes lupus is not yet understood. Past research indicates that a complex interaction involving hormones, the environment, and genetic factors sets the stage for the disease.

To learn more about the genetic factors that have a role in the development of lupus, researchers recently scanned the entire pool of human genes (the human genome) to locate ones that may play a role in causing the disease.