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Neuropsychiatric Lupus – Brain Mapping Research

Posted Jan 18 2011 2:35am

Neuropsychiatric Lupus - CNS Involvement

This morning’s Internet surfing led me to an interesting report about some recent Chinese research in neuropsychiatric lupus.  Central nervous system involvement, or neuropsychiatric lupus, is a very disruptive and disconcerting aspect of lupus for many patients.

CNS lupus symptoms can range from being a mild nuisance to a severe disruption and impairment of cognitive brain activities such as memory, math computation, problem-solving, motor function, and speech.  The most severe cases can cause seizures or become life-threatening.

After years of having only moderate lupus, CNS lupus involvement signaled a more severe progression of my lupus disease.  It caused greater life-work disruption, and required taking much stronger medications such as cancer and organ transplant chemotherapy drugs than before.

The report from China really caught my attention.  After reading several second-hand accounts about the study, the original research report was located at the web site of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  Some “recreational” reading followed as I waded through a little medical jargon.

A team of Chinese doctors mapped lupus patients’ brains using MRIs, and found brain locations where neuropsychiatric lupus caused disruption in patients’ brain activity and function.  The researchers also found that patients not yet diagnosed with neuropsychiatric lupus showed similar brain changes during times they were experiencing high lupus disease activity.

The study suggests that identifying the presence of lupus-related brain function disruption in patients may provide earlier diagnosis and treatment opportunities for neuropsychiatric lupus symptoms.  Earlier diagnosis and treatment of CNS lupus involvement just might help reduce its severity and disruptiveness in patients’ lives.

It will be interesting to see where this type of research leads in the years ahead.  If patients can prevent severity of their CNS lupus involvement by early intervention and treatment, that would be a wonderful thing!

Primary source:

Lin, Y., Zou, Q.-H., Wang, J., Wang, Y., Zhou, D.-Q., Zhang, R.-H., Zhang, Y.-W., Lii, H.-T. and Fang, Y.-F. , Localization of cerebral functional deficits in patients with non-neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus. Human Brain Mapping, n/a. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21158 – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hbm.21158/abstract .

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