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Current Pharmaceutical Design


ISSN (Print): 1381-6128
ISSN (Online): 1873-4286

Neuropsychiatric Involvement in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus:Current Therapeutic Approach

Author(s): Giovanni Sanna, Maria Laura Bertolaccini and Munther A. Khamashta

Volume 14, Issue 13, 2008

Page: [1261 - 1269] Pages: 9

DOI: 10.2174/138161208799316401

Price: $65


The involvement of the central nervous system (CNS) is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients and the less understood aspect of the disease. Its recognition and treatment continue to represent a major diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. Due to the lack of controlled randomized trials, current therapeutic approach is still empirical and based on clinical experience. The therapeutic choice depends on accurate diagnosis, identification of underlying pathogenic mechanism, severity of the presenting neuropsychiatric symptoms, and on prompt identification and management of contributing causes of CNS disease. Mild neuropsychiatric manifestations may need symptomatic treatment only. In more severe CNS disease it is important to distinguish between thrombotic and non-thrombotic mechanisms. Focal CNS manifestations, particularly TIA and stroke, are associated with the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL). Anticoagulation is warranted in patients with thrombotic disease, particularly in those with the antiphospholipid (Hughes) syndrome (APS). Other CNS manifestations, such as demyelinating syndrome, transverse myelitis, chorea, seizures, migraine and/or cognitive dysfunction, when associated with persistent positivity for aPL, may also benefit from anticoagulation in selected patients. Severe diffuse CNS manifestations, such as acute confusional state, generalised seizures, mood disorders and psychosis, generally require corticosteroids in the first instance. Pulse intravenous cyclophosphamide therapy may help when more severe manifestations are refractory to corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive agents, generally when response is not seen in 3-5 days. Plasmapheresis may also be added in severe cases of symptoms refractory to conventional treatment. Intravenous immunoglobulins, mycophenolate mofetil, rituximab, intratecal methotrexate and dexametasone deserve further studies to confirm their usefulness in the treatment of neuropsychiatric SLE. This article reviews the clinical approach to therapy in patients with SLE and neuropsychiatric involvement.

Keywords: CNS, lupus anticoagulant, anticardiolipin, antiphospholipid syndrome, ischemia, immunosuppression, anticoagulation, therapy

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