Musculoskeletal manifestations of systemic lupus erythmatosus

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Imaging studies suggest potential changes to the classification and assessment of inflammatory musculoskeletal lupus. This is important because of the burden of disease but the potential for new targeted therapies.

Recent findings

Using our current classification and treatment, musculoskeletal symptoms continue to impact significantly on quality of life and work disability. Ultrasound and MRI studies suggested that new approaches to the diagnosis, classification, and evaluation of these symptoms are needed. Many patients with pain but no synovitis have ultrasound-proven joint and tendon inflammation but would not qualify for clinical trials or score highly on disease activity instruments. MRI studies show that erosions are more common than previously thought and may have a different pathogenesis than RA. Immunology studies suggest differences from other autoimmune synovitis, with a complex role for type I interferons. A wide range of biologic therapies appear more consistently effective for arthritis than some other manifestations.

Summary

Changes to the selection of patients for therapy and stratification using musculoskeletal imaging may offer new approaches to clinical trials and the routine care of systemic lupus erythematosus patients with inflammatory musculoskeletal symptoms. Outcomes may thereby be improved using existing therapies. There are significant knowledge gaps that must be addressed to achieve these potential improved outcomes.

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