- World Lupus Day is
observed on 10 May every year to raise
awareness about the disease condition
- The theme for the
2017 World Lupus Day is ” Lupus
Knows No Boundaries“
- Dr. Swapan Nath,
who discovered 10 genes associated with lupus along with his team, spoke
to Medindia about research on lupus
World Lupus Day is observed on 10 May to raise awareness about systemic lupus erythematosus or
lupus. This condition is caused when the body’s own immune system attacks
healthy tissues, giving rise to various symptoms.
symptoms of the disease are characterized by
- joints that are
painful and swollen
- chest pain
- hair loss
- ulcers in the mouth
- red rash
with this condition are often at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Lupus is a disease condition that is difficult to
treat and very difficult to identify. It is a debilitating disease but very few
people are aware about this condition.
‘”Researchers will come up with better therapeutic intervention for lupus in the near future” – Dr. Swapan Nath.’
global survey conducted by the World
Lupus Foundation showed that
- 51% of the
respondents did not know the complications associated with lupus
- 35% of the
respondents did not know that lupus was a disease
Incidence of lupus:
- 20 to 70 per 100,000
- Pregnant women
have a nine times higher chance of being affected by lupus than men
- Chinese, Africans
and Caribbeans are more often affected
World Lupus Day:
This was first initiated in 2004,
considering the lack of awareness about the condition among medical
practitioners and in society in general, resulting in late diagnosis of the
World Lupus Awareness Month: Certain
organizations like the Lupus Foundation
of America, observe the entire month of May as World Lupus Awareness Month.
The organizations encourage people to wear purple,
especially on 19 May.
Theme for World Lupus Day 2017:
“Lupus Knows No Boundaries”
theme has been carefully selected to generate knowledge and awareness on lupus
as a global health concern, affecting people of all ethnicities and
Vitamin D Levels and Lupus:
suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus have a high prevalence of vitamin D
deficiency which could be due to photoprotection
measures, apart from the intrinsic factors of the disease
- Low vitamin D
levels could increase the risk of fracture due to low bone mineral densit.
- Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with negative effects on the immune
response of a patient, increasing loss of tolerance and autoimmunity.
with lupus should get their Vitamin D levels monitored routinely and should
have vitamin D levels higher than 30-40ng/ml.
Causes for the Condition:
causes for this condition are a combination of genetic, environmental and
hormonal factors. An Indian American
researcher, Dr. Swapan Nath
identified 10 new genes associated with systemic lupus erythematosus last year.
Dr. Nath is a senior scientist with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
(OMRF) and gained International fame through this landmark study that analyzed more than 17,000 human DNA samples. About 4,500 of these samples
were from patients with the disease condition while the others served as control.
Dr. Nath said, “We know lupus has a strong genetic basis but in order to
better treat the disease, we have to identify those genes.”
Swapan Nath is currently a member of the Arthritis
and Immunology Research Program, Oklahoma
Medical Research Foundation and an adjunct Professor at the Department of
Pathology, Oklahoma University Health Science Center.
of his awards and recognitions include:
- Young Scientist Award
in Population Genetics from Indian Society of Human Genetics (1993)
- Travel Grant Award,
Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) -2002
- Merrick Award
for Outstanding Research, OMRF (2006)
- J. Donald and Patricia H. Capra Distinguished Scientist (2008)
- Travel Grant Award,
Federation of Clinical Immunology Society (FOCIS)-2012,2013
- Edward L. and Thelma Gaylord Prize for Scientific Excellence (OMRF)-2016
is an excerpt of an exclusive interview with Dr. Swapan Nath about genes associated with lupus to mark the World
Lupus Day 2017
Q. What interested you in taking up research on lupus?
I was interested and trained in studying the genetics of common and complex
diseases. Lupus is a chronic, complex, heterogeneous autoimmune disease that
can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body
like kidneys,). Although the etiology of lupus is poorly
known, it is determined by the combination of genetics, epigenetics and
environmental factors. So, I was fascinated by the clinical variability and
Q. What is the prevalence of Lupus?
prevalence of lupus varies between ethnicities. For example, prevalence and
disease severity are higher in African-American, Hispanic or Asian women
compared to Caucasian women.
discovered 10 genes associated with lupus. Which one is the most significant?
is a multifactorial genetic disease that means lupus phenotypes are influenced
by the actions of several genes and environmental factors. Based on the
genetics data from our lab as well as other labs, it is now suspected that over
60 genes are involved in lupus susceptibility. So, it is difficult to say which
one is the most significant for lupus. Rather, I would say that every gene will be important in some way…
several Interferon regulatory genes, Complement system genes, Cytokine
regulatory genes and immune cell type-specific transcription factors are
consistently identified in several studies across multiple ethnically diverse
Q.Will this pave the way for personalized
is the ultimate goal of the current research. Since lupus is such a diverse
clinically heterogeneous disease that there is no known clear cut common
genetic/epigenetic causes or mechanisms or environmental triggers for lupus.
So, every patient is a unique variation of the human genome.
most of the variations in human genome may not have any effect on disease
phenotype, current genetic research will soon catalog
the variations in the susceptibility genes that are most likely influence the
disease phenotypes. The advances of personalized medicine rely on the
technologies that confirm a patient’s fundamental biology using DNA, RNA, or
protein, which ultimately leads to disease manifestations. Therefore, I do
believe that some of what we are discovering today in lupus genetics, will be
useful for personalized medicine of personalize therapy in near future.
Q.How much do Vitamin D levels affect the severity of
studies have highlighted the association between vitamin D and disease activity
in lupus. However, a recent clinical trial to check the effectiveness of
Vitamin D supplementation on the disease activity of Vitamin D-deficient lupus
patients did not show better outcome. So, more research is required to
understand the relation between Vitamin D levels and disease severity.
India has an abundance of sunshine, is the severity lower here?
is an interesting question. The importance of vitamin D and its association
with various autoimmune diseases including lupus has been reported.
it is a little paradoxical to note that an insufficiency of vitamin-D is widely
prevalent in the Indian subcontinent, although there is plenty of sunshine.
Vitamin-D deficiency is prevalent among normal healthy individuals as well as
among lupus patents. Interestingly, the disease
severity is also negatively correlated with vitamin-D level.
Q.What is the hereditary pattern for
people with lupus? Should first degree relatives of patients be screened for
is a genetic disease, but the pattern of inheritance is not like a simple
Mendelian pattern. However, relatives of patients with lupus appear to be at
higher risk of developing lupus. Earlier research on twins show that there is a
10-fold increased concordance in monozygotic compared with dizygotic twins.
Heritability, which is defined as the proportion of the phenotypic variance
explained by genetic factors, is estimated to be 66% in SLE. Therefore, it is
wise to screen the first degree relatives of a lupus patient, especially sisters
or female relatives.
Q.What does the future hold for people with
progress has been made for the last 10 years in terms of understanding lupus,
but more research is required to know more about the disease pathogenesis. But,
the way research is moving, I am very optimistic that researchers will come up
with better therapeutic intervention in the near future.
What is your message on this World Lupus Day?
afraid of lupus? We will conquer it.
- Lupus Knows No Boundaries E-Report – (http://www.worldlupusday.org/e-report.html)
- Lupus Awareness Month 2017 – (http://www.lupusawarenessmonth.org/)
- Bone Health, Vitamin D and Lupus – (http://www.reumatologiaclinica.org/en/bone-health-vitamin-d-lupus/articulo/S2173574314001804/)
- Vitamin D in Lupus – (https:www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4185297/)
- Lupus Awareness Month Begins May 1st! – (http://www.lupusil.org/lupus-awareness-month-2017.html)
- World Lupus Day – May 10 – (http://www.lupus-sle.org/world-lupus-day—may-10.html)