The UPMC Lupus Center of Excellence

The UPMC Lupus Center of Excellence offers comprehensive medical care for lupus patients in the region, serving not only the Western Pennsylvania region, but also Ohio and West Virginia. The UPMC Lupus Center serves as an important referral center for primary care, physicians, internal medicine specialists and other rheumatologists caring for complicated difficult-to-treat lupus patients. The physicians at the UPMC Lupus Center of Excellence perform a careful review of the patient’s history and medical records, physical examination and lab tests to ensure a correct diagnosis and offer excellent diagnostic and medical care for lupus patients.

Definition

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or lupus, is a chronic inflammatory disease, which can affect virtually any organ system of the body, but mostly involves the skin, joints, kidney, brain, blood, and heart. Lupus is an “autoimmune” disease in which the body’s immune system, which is normally protective, becomes activated in a way that injures normal tissue. For example, the normal immune system forms antibodies, which identify and act against ‘foreign’ invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. In lupus, antibodies develop and attack the body’s normal tissues and organs. The disease is characterized by periods of activity, known as ‘flares’ and periods of feeling well, known as ‘remission’ or inactivity.

Lupus tends to affect women more often than men. Nine of 10 patients with lupus are women. Women of African American, Hispanic and Asian descent are more likely to develop lupus than Caucasian women.

The cause(s) of lupus is unknown. Experts believe that lupus may be attributed to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but sometimes it can be triggered by the use of certain medications. When it is medication-related, discontinuation of the offending drug resolves the symptoms. Lupus may only affect the skin, in which there is no internal organ involvement. Examples of this include discoid lupus (DLE) and subcutaneous cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE). Complications of lupus include kidney disease, nervous system involvement (seizures, memory loss, headaches) and heart disease (heart attacks, strokes).

Contact Us

Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology Offices

S700 Biomedical Science Tower
3500 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
412-383-8000  |  Email Us