Genes Play a Critical Role in Lupus Disease Outcomes in People from Ghana
Recent research out of Ghana underscores the powerful role genes can play in lupus disease outcomes, finding certain genetic risk factors that are more common in sub-Saharan African populations are associated with poor lupus nephrits (LN) outcomes, greater organ damage and higher fatality rates. LN refers to kidney disease that can develop in people with lupus.
The study looked at 100 people in Ghana with lupus and compared disease characteristics and outcomes in those with the identified high-risk genes to those without. Those in the high-risk genetic group were more likely to develop end-stage renal (kidney) disease, the final phase of LN in which the kidneys can no longer function on their own. The high-risk genetic group also had notably higher organ damage accrual scores, despite showing no differences in overall lupus disease activity, and a 14-times higher fatality rate due to deaths from kidney and heart failure.
The findings provide further evidence that genetic risk factors, in addition to environmental and socioeconomic variables, can play a driving role in one’s lupus disease course. People with lupus of African heritage have been shown to suffer from greater organ damage accrual and co-occurring illnesses than people with lupus of European ancestry, and genetic differences may be one contributing factor. Learn about your genes and lupus.