Jul. 19, 2016

New promising study results: Cognitive impairment in kids with lupus

New study results highlight the successful use of a non-invasive imaging method that may help predict earlier the potential for cognitive impairment before the onset of neuropsychiatric lupus symptoms in school-age children.

This imaging technique safely assesses the brain in young adults with lupus, which can help identify significant alterations to the blood-brain-barrier prior to the development of neuropsychiatric lupus symptoms. The blood-brain-barrier protects the brain by allowing some substances to pass through while blocking others. Changes in the blood-brain-barrier are believed to be associated with neuropsychiatric lupus.

Other imagining techniques use contrast dyes to visualize the brain which have many damaging side effects. One side effect of these dyes in particular is kidney dysfunction, which can be especially harmful since as many as to 80 percent of children with lupus develop nephritis. This new imaging technique avoids the use of contrast dye.

Neuropsychiatric complications often affect children and young adults with lupus severely and to make matters worse, they are difficult to diagnose. Its most common effects include difficulty concentrating, reasoning, and planning, as well as problems with memory and recall, which can interfere with school performance and educational progress.

The research is funded by LFA and led by Gaurav Gulati, MD, Division of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology, at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine through the Michael Jon Barlin Pediaric Research Program.

Additional resources

Imaging the Blood-Brain Barrier in Childhood-Onset Neuropsychiatric Lupus

New Progress in Assessing Neuropsychiatric Lupus in Children

Blood Brain Barrier Permeability is altered in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Novel Imaging Approach


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