Hope Foundation - Creating an awareness of Lupus, Sickle Cell and Arthritis

What happens in autoimmune diseases like lupus?

The immune system is designed to protect and defend the body from foreign intruders (bacteria, viruses). You can think of it like a security system for your body. It contains several different types of cells, some of which function like "security guards" and are constantly on patrol looking for any foreign invaders. When they spot one, they take action, and eliminate the intruder. In lupus, for some reason and we don't know why, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between a foreign intruder and a person's own normal tissues and cells. So, in essence, the "Security Guards" make a mistake, and they mistakenly identify the person's own normal cells as foreign (antigens), and then take action to eliminate them. Part of their response is to bring antibodies to the site that then attach to antigens (anything that the immune system recognizes as non-self or foreign) and form immune complexes. These immune complexes help to set in motion a series of events that result in inflammation at the site. These immune complexes may travel through the circulation (blood) and lodge in distant tissues and cause inflammation there.

About Lupus

  • What is lupus? +

    Lupus is a chronic (long-lasting) autoimmune disease in which the immune system, for unknown reasons, becomes hyperactive and attacks normal Read More
  • What does autoimmune mean? +

    Literally it means immune activity directed against the self. The immune system fights the body itself (Auto=self). In autoimmune diseases, the Read More
  • What is inflammation +

    Literally it means setting on fire. It is a protective process our body uses when tissues are injured. Inflammation helps Read More
  • What happens in autoimmune diseases like lupus? +

    The immune system is designed to protect and defend the body from foreign intruders (bacteria, viruses). You can think of Read More
  • Where did the name come from? +

    Lupus is the Latin word for wolf. The term has been associated with the disease since the 10th century, though Read More
  • Who gets lupus? +

    Lupus can occur at any age, and in either sex. Nine out of ten people with lupus are women. During Read More
  • What are the symptoms of lupus? +

    Symptoms of lupus vary widely depending on the individual case and the form of lupus present. Most people with lupus Read More
  • Are there different kinds of lupus +

    There are three types of lupus: including: Discoid or Cutaneous lupus erythematosus affects the skin and hair Systemic lupus erythematosus Read More
  • Lupus in Overlap +

    The majority of people with lupus have lupus alone. Between five and thirty percent of people with lupus report having Read More
  • Is lupus contagious? +

    No, not even through sexual contact. Read More
  • Is lupus a fatal disease? +

    Lupus is not a universally fatal disease. In fact, today with close follow-up and treatment, 80-90% of the people with Read More
  • When people die of lupus, what do they usually die of? +

    Overwhelming infection and kidney failure are the two most common causes of death in people with lupus. Read More
  • Is lupus a form of cancer? +

    No, lupus is not a form of cancer. It is an autoimmune disease. Read More
  • Are people with lupus more likely to develop cancers? +

    People with lupus are no more likely to develop cancer than are people in the general population. However, people who Read More
  • Are there any special considerations regarding treatment of cancer in people with lupus? +

    Cancer can be treated in many ways; with surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. All people with lupus who have surgery for Read More
  • Is lupus like AIDS? +

    No. In AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) the immune system is under active; it is deficient. In lupus the immune Read More
  • My child has lupus. What is the prognosis? +

    The prognosis for children and adolescents with systemic lupus has improved dramatically over the past twenty years. With modern therapy, Read More
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