Neuropsychiatric Lupus (NPSLE) Research
Neuropsychiatric lupus (NPSLE) refers to lupus that affects the central or peripheral nervous system. NPSLE affects the quality of life for a large percentage of people with lupus. The most common signs and symptoms of this condition include cognitive dysfunction (sometimes called lupus fog), headache, mood and anxiety disorders, cerebrovascular disease, seizure or seizure disorders, and neuropathy. Both neurologic and psychiatric abnormalities appear in forms that may be subtle but sufficient to change a person’s lifestyle and lead to disability. The Foundation is supporting studies whose basic, clinical, or translational research outcomes will significantly enhance our current understanding of common manifestations of NPSLE in adult and pediatric populations.
2012 Grant Award
Eyal Muscal, M.D.
Baylor College of Medicine
"Cerebral Perfusion Abnormalities in Pediatric SLE: a Multi-Modal MRI Study"
This grant is presented in memory of Kassie McMullin Biglow
2011 Grant Award
Martin G. Pomper, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Radiology
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
“Imaging Microglial Activation in Neuropsychiatric Lupus”
This grant award is presented in memory of Kassie McMullin Biglow and with funds contributed by the LFA, Akron Area Chapter and LFA, DC/MD/VA Chapter Grant
2009 Grant Award
Michael Luggen, M.D.
Professor of Clinical Medicine
University of Cincinnati Medical Center, OH
"Cognitive Dysfunction in SLE: Diagnosis, Prognosis and Significance"
Patients with lupus may have difficulties thinking, remembering, and making decisions. This cognitive dysfunction (CD) has been reported to occur in from 12%-87% of patients with lupus. The reasons for the divergent estimates are not clear but may have to do with differences in types of lupus patients studied, tests used to detect CD, and the exact diagnostic criteria employed. The proposed research will establish accurate and reproducible criteria upon which to make a diagnosis, determine the frequency of CD in a community based population of patients with lupus, and assess the consequences of CD on health related quality of life. The above objectives will be accomplished using a computer based assessment tool which is inexpensive, brief, and repeatable. By identifying accurately patients with clinically significant CD at an earlier stage, more effective treatment may be possible.
Cynthia Aranow, M.D.
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, NY
"Pet Scan Imaging of Cognitive and Emotional Abnormalities in SLE"
Cognitive dysfunction (difficulties with memory, learning and attention) and emotional abnormalities (anxiety and mood disorders) occur commonly in patients with lupus and contribute to a reduced quality of life. Before effective treatments can be developed and tested for these morbidities, a greater understanding of the causes of these features and sensitive and reliable assessments that will detect changes over time are needed. Many manifestations of lupus result from the actions of autoantibodies, antibodies directed against the self. Antibodies against the NMDA receptor (anti-NR2 antibodies) are found in 30-50% of lupus patients. These antibodies have been shown in animal models to cause death of neurons (brain cells) in areas of the brain that are associated with memory and emotional reactions. This study will use specialized imaging of the brain, (PET scans with MRI scans) to study lupus patients with longstanding lupus and patients with recent onset disease. Since patients who are antibody positive with a long disease duration will have had a greater exposure to the antibody than patients with lupus for short periods of time, this study will provide information regarding a potential role of anti-NR2 antibodies in these neuropyschiatric manifestations of SLE in humans. This study may also lead to better methods to evaluate neuropsychiatric features of lupus and new targets for treatment of these conditions.