Systemic lupus erythematosus: an update

Vera Golder and Alberta Hoi
Med J Aust 2017; 206 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/mja16.01229
Published online: 20 March 2017


  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic multisystem autoimmune disease predominantly affecting women of childbearing age.
  • New classification criteria for SLE have greater sensitivity and therefore improve the diagnostic certainty for some patients, especially those who may previously have been labelled as having undifferentiated symptoms.
  • Uncontrolled disease activity leads to irreversible end-organ damage, which in turn increases the risk of premature death; early and sustained control of disease activity can usually be achieved by conventional immunosuppressant therapy.
  • The development of biological therapy lags behind that for other rheumatic diseases, with belimumab being the only targeted therapy approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
  • “Treat-to-target” concepts are changing trial design and clinical practice, with evidence-based definition of response criteria in the form of remission and low disease activity now on the horizon.
  • While new therapies are awaited, research should also focus on optimising the use of current therapy and improving the quality of care of patients with SLE.

  • Vera Golder
  • Alberta Hoi

  • Monash University, Melbourne, VIC



Vera Golder holds a postgraduate scholarship from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC, APP1093545).

Competing interests:

Alberta Hoi has received funding from GlaxoSmithKline, MOVE Muscle, Bone and Joint Health, Astra-Zeneca and UCB as unrestricted educational grants for the development of the Australian Lupus Registry and Biobank.


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