Treatments for Lupus

Ace Inhibitors
Alternative Therapies
Anti-Malarials (Plaquenil)
CellCept® (Mycophenolate Mofetil)
Periodontal Treatment
Rituximab (Rituxan)
Stem Cell Transplants
Vitamin D


Lupus treatment includes care for symptoms as they arise, plus treatments aimed at slowing down the overall course of the disease, such as anti-inflammatories, steroids, and immunosuppressants. Every lupus patient should also have their Vitamin D status regularly monitored, and optimized. (Also see Autoimmune Diseases and Overview of Lupus)

Lupus Treatment Currently, there is no cure for lupus. But treatments can ease symptoms and reduce complications. Mayo Clinic

Risk of high–grade cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) receiving immunosuppressive drugs. Among women with SLE, immunosuppressive drugs may be associated with a greater, albeit not statistically significant, risk of high–grade cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer compared to patients receiving hydroxychloroquine alone. PubMed, Lupus, 10/31/2016. (Also see Immunosuppressants and Cancer)

Illness perception in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients: The roles of alexithymia and depression. Studying the role of psychological factors, may contribute to a more comprehensive perspective of SLE, including their impact on patients' beliefs about treatment effectiveness and emotional adaptation to chronic disease. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 09/30/2015. (Also see Depression)

Prolonged Clinical Remission in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Prolonged remission is an infrequent outcome among patients and is preceded by an atypically monophasic clinical course in a significant minority and may reflect unique pathophysiologic mechanisms. PubMed, J Rheumatol, 2014 Aug 1.

How is systemic lupus treated? There is no permanent cure for systemic lupus. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and protect organs by decreasing inflammation and/or the level of autoimmune activity in the body. Many patients with mild symptoms may need no treatment or only intermittent courses of antiinflammatory medications. MedicineNet

Systemic lupus erythematosus: nurse and patient education. Nurses need to have a good understanding of the disease to provide patients with appropriate support and advice about how to maintain wellbeing and lead active lives. PubMed, Nurs Stand, 2012 May 30-Jun 5;26(39):49-57.

Ace Inhibitors

Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE) delay the occurrence of renal involvement and are associated with a decreased risk of disease activity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)—results from LUMINA (LIX): a multiethnic US cohort. ACE inhibitor use delays the development of renal involvement and associates with a decreased risk of disease activity in SLE. S. Durán-Barragán. Rheumatology Advance Access. May 29, 2008.

Alternative Therapies

Supervised physical exercise improves endothelial function in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Physical exercise is a useful strategy to improve endothelial function and aerobic capacity without worsening disease activity in SLE patients. Rheumatology, 2013, 52 (12): 2187-2195.

Anti-Malarials (Plaquenil, Hydroxychloroquine)

Hydroxychloroquine Use Is Associated with Lower Odds of Persistently Positive Antiphospholipid Antibodies and/or Lupus Anticoagulant in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. This is the first study to show that hydroxychloroquine (plaquenil, HCQ) use is associated with lower odds of having persistently positive lupus anticoagulant (LAC) and/or antiphospholipid antibodies. (aPL). The Journal of Rheumatology, Vol. 40, No. 1 30-33, August 1, 2012. (Also see Antiphospholipid and Antimalarials)

Anti-Malarials in the Treatment of Lupus. Anti-malarials are particularly effective in treating skin and joint symptoms that may occur in SLE. They have been demonstrated to improve muscle and joint pain; inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericarditis); inflammation of the lining of the lung (pleuritis); and other symptoms of lupus such as fatigue and fever. Lupus Foundation of America.

CellCept® (Mycophenolate Mofetil)

Effect of mycophenolate mofetil on the white blood cell count and the frequency of infection in systemic lupus erythematosus. Leukopenia does not worsen with mycophenolate mofetil, which appears to slightly increase the rate of bacterial (but not viral) infection. PubMed, Rheumatol Int, 04/03/2015.

Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) is as efficacious as, but safer than, cyclophosphamide (CYC) in the treatment of proliferative lupus nephritis: a meta-analysis and meta-regression. MMF offers similar efficacy in renal remission and survival as CYC, and appears safer in the treatment of proliferative lupus nephritis. A. Mak. Rheumatology Advance Access. June 3 2009. (Also see Lupus Symptoms)


Cyclophosphamide (generic) was also formerly known by the brand name Cytoxan.

Pulse cyclophosphamide treatment for severe refractory cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Significant clinical improvement of the subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus lesions was achieved in all patients, with four patients in complete remission and two in partial remission. (SageJournals) A. Raptopoulou. Lupus. May 1 2010.

Diet and Nutrition for Lupus

Diet and Nutrition. In general, you should try to eat a nutritious, well-balanced, and varied diet that contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, moderate amounts of meats, poultry, and oily fish, as fish oil has been found to help reduce inflammation. Lupus Foundation.


Methotrexate (MTX) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The use of MTX is associated with significant reductions in SLE Disease Activity Index and the average dose of corticosteroids in adult patients with SLE. PubMed, Lupus, 2014 Jan 7. (Also see Methotrexate)

Periodontal Treatment

Periodontitis treatment improves systemic lupus erythematosus response to immunosuppressive therapy. Periodontal disease treatment seems to have a beneficial effect in controlling disease activity in SLE patients under immunosuppressive therapy and therefore, management of this modifiable risk factor is recommended. PubMed, Clin Rheumatol, 2014 Jan 11. (Also see Immunosuppressants)


Glucocorticoids and irreversible damage in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Prednisone causes damage in SLE, but doses less than 7.5 mg/day and methylprednisolone pulses are not associated with damage accrual. PubMed, Rheumatology (Oxford), 2014 Mar 27. (Also see Glucocorticoids, Steroids (Prednisone) Warnings)

Prednisone in lupus nephritis: How much is enough? A combination of medium-dose prednisone, methylprednisolone pulses, cyclophosphamide and hydroxychloroquine is at least as effective in achieving remission of lupus nephritis as regimes containing high-dose prednisone and causes less toxicity. ScienceDirect. Autoimmunity Reviews Volume 13, Issue 2, February 2014, Pages 206–214.

Rituximab (Rituxan)

Rituximab usage in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)–associated antiphospholipid syndrome (APS): A single–center experience. In this single–center study there were no recurrent thrombotic events after the rituximab therapy, implicating further consideration of large–scale trials to evaluate its therapeutic role in SLE–associated APS patients. PubMed, Semin Arthritis Rheum, 2016 Aug;46(1):102-8. (Also see Antiphospholipid Syndrome)

What do I need to know about Rituxan® and lupus? Rituxan® may have a role for certain individuals with lupus, and further clinical research is being pursued. Lupus Foundation of America. 07/21/2013.

Stem Cell Transplants

Stem Cell Transplant Research for Scleroderma. ISN.

Use of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) in Chronic Inflammatory Fistulizing and Fibrotic Diseases: a Comprehensive Review. The current data indicate that MSC represent a promising alternative strategy and encouraging results in the treatment of Crohn's disease, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Systemic Sclerosis. PubMed, Clin Rev Allergy Immunol, 2013 Jan 8. (Also see Scleroderma Clinical Trials)


Tacrolimus (TAC) use in lupus nephritis: A systematic review and meta–analysis. In moderately severe lupus nephritis, there is some evidence supporting efficacy of TAC or multi–target TAC+ mycophenolate (MMF) over IV cyclophosphamide, but no evidence supporting TAC over MMF. PubMed, Autoimmun Rev, 09/29/2015.

Vitamin D

Sleep disorders in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Does vitamin D play a role? A role for vitamin D in sleep quality of SLE patients was found and further studies are warranted to confirm these results and to find possible mechanisms of action. PubMed, Lupus, 2014 Apr 14.

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