Indexed on: 13 Aug '09Published on: 13 Aug '09Published in: Lupus
Understanding the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) remains a considerable challenge. Multiple abnormalities of both the innate and adaptive immune system have been described and, furthermore, immunological dysfunction precedes clinical presentation by many years. There is a strong genetic basis to SLE, which means that genetic studies can play a key role in furthering our understanding of this disease. Because susceptibility variants are present from birth and are unaffected by the course of the disease, or by its treatment, genetic analysis is, perhaps uniquely, capable of identifying fundamental, causative, disease mechanisms. In this article, we review our SLE immunogenetic studies performed in collaboration with the European Working Party on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. By considering the results of our research and the recent advances obtained by genome-wide associations' studies, we can begin to understand how dysregulation at a number of key immunological steps may predispose to the development of SLE.