Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – Type III Hypersensitivity
There are three types of lupus; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Coetaneous (skin) Lupus, and Drug – Induced Lupus. Out of these three, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is the most serious form of lupus and one of the classic examples of autoimmune diseases among human beings. This means, there is a problem with the body’s normal immune system response. The basic cause of autoimmune diseases is not fully known. Some researchers think autoimmune diseases occur after infection with an organism that looks like certain proteins in the body. Proteins that is later on mistaken for the organism and wrongly targeted for attack by the body’s immune system. This leads to chronic inflammation and tissue damage, which plays a major role in many of the dangerous side effects of lupus. The immune system is the body's defense mechanism against foreign substances entering the body. It depends on the substance of compounds called antibodies and on cells called lymphocytes, which rise to the defense of the body in case of invasion by foreign agents such as germs or viruses. However, for patients with an autoimmune disease, it cannot tell the difference between harmful and healthy substance. That is what essentially causes an overactive immune response that attacks healthy cells and tissues.
According to Noah Scheinfeld, MD., “women are affected by the SLE more often than men; the female–to–male ratio is 9:1”. Women of child bearing age are typically affected by the SLE, but individuals of any age, sex, or race may develop this disease. SLE affects nearly every part of the body such as, the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood, and/or brain. Symptoms of lupus vary greatly from person to person and range from moderate to severe. There is no more difficult disease to diagnose, understand, or treat than the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). This may be due to the fact that the SLE is not one disease but many diseases grouped under one heading. SLE is complex and problematic and can be a very difficult disease to diagnose. That is also why it is considered as an “imitators” because it is often mistaken for other illness.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, often known simply as lupus or abbreviated to SLE, while uncommon – it is not rare. It is a reaction of Type III hypersensitivity. As mentioned in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Type III hypersensitivity reactions can be provoked by inhalation of antigens into the lungs. “Hypersensitivity refers to excessive, undesirable (damaging, discomfort-producing and sometimes fatal) reactions produced by the normal immune system” (Dr. Abdul Ghaffar). Type III immune complex reactions involve antigens, antibodies of IgA or IgM, and complement. The type III reactions is not only limited to the systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but this hypersensitivity type also include glomerulonephritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It is not clear what triggers this immune abnormality but several factors seem to be contributory in some patients. These include infection, hormonal, genetic, and unidentified environmental factors. Some drugs including those used for the treatment of tuberculosis (isoniazid), high blood pressure (hydralazine), and convulsions (dilantin) have also occasionally been associated with the development of SLE. When certain ratios of antigen to antibody occur, the complexes are small and so they tend to escape phagocytosis. The complexes then become trapped in the basement membrane under the endothelium of blood vessels, activate complement and cause an inflammation.
Symptoms for SLE are not restricted to only a few. Symptoms that most patients complain about includes weakness, extreme fatigue, weight loss, painful or swollen joints, and skin rash. There are many symptoms that are commonly observed for patients with this disease. Additional symptoms consist of chest pain, hair loss, anemia,