Neuropsychiatric Lupus in Childhood-Onset Lupus is Not Linked to Genetic Risk of Schizophrenia
Research shows that neuropsychiatric lupus (NPSLE) – a form of lupus affecting the brain, spinal cord or nerves – is not linked to genetic risk of schizophrenia in those with childhood-onset lupus. It’s estimated that NPSLE occurs in an up to 95% of people who were diagnosed with lupus during childhood. It can affect the nervous system in many different ways, from headaches or mood disorders to seizures or psychosis. Psychosis refers to seeing and hearing things that do not exist or having false beliefs, and it’s a rare but potential problem caused by NPSLE. One form of psychosis is schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder strongly influenced by genetics.
While past studies have reported associations between schizophrenia and autoimmune diseases, including lupus, this latest study observed no such genetic link. Researchers assessed 513 people with childhood-onset lupus using the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) criteria to help identify those diagnosed with the disease who were eligible for the study. The Lupus Foundation of America collaborates with SLICC to help advance lupus research. Within the study population, 201 had some form of NPSLE. Those with NPSLE, including those with symptoms of psychosis or other specific NPSLE features, did not show an increased genetic risk of schizophrenia.
Though further research is needed, these newly published findings are encouraging. Learn more about lupus and the nervous system.