Systemic lupus erythematosus (Lupus) is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in the tissues which provide strength and flexibility to structures throughout the body. The signs and symptoms of Lupus vary among affected individuals, and can involve many organs and systems, including the skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, central nervous system. Lupus is one of a large group of conditions called autoimmune disorders that occur when the immune system attacks the body's own tissues and organs. It affects predominantly women of child-bearing age and has population differences in both disease prevalence and severity. Genetic factors are known to play key roles in the disease through the use of association and family studies.
Most of the genes associated with Lupus are involved in immune system function. Sex hormones and a variety of environmental factors including viral infections, diet, stress, chemical exposures, and sunlight are also thought to play a role in triggering this complex disorder. About 10 percent of Lupus cases are thought to be triggered by drug exposure, and more than 80 drugs that may be involved have been identified.