Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease which can affect virtually any organ and tissue in the body. As such, it is also called “The Great Imitator”: if a disease presents with a baffling constellation of signs and symptoms, consider SLE (this honorific previously belonged to Syphilis). One reason for its diverse manifestations is that practically the entire repertoire of immune cells and immune mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis.
As with any disease, genetics and the environment participate in its etiology. It is a polygenic disease, with culpable genes involved in autoinflammation, immune function, self recognition (tolerance), and autophagy (scavenging). Tissue damage (eg sunburn) is known to be a trigger; thus the advice to Lupus patients for UV protection. A recent intriguing discovery suggests that dysbiosis (“bad” gut bacteria) may drive the disease.