Cognitive and Psychiatric Issues Linked to Autoantibodies in Brain Unique to Lupus Patients, study finds

Autoantibodies targeting certain regulatory RNAs — molecules that serve as the template for protein production — in the brains of lupus patients are unique to these people and involved in neuropsychiatric symptoms of the disease, a study reports.

The study, “Neuronal BC RNA transport impairments caused by systemic lupus erythematosus autoantibodies,” was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most prevalent form of lupus, is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by tissue inflammation, rash, pain, fatigue, depression, and cognitive difficulties. A form of this disease, called neuropsychiatric SLE (NPSLE), is marked by the overactivation of the immune system, and cognitive and psychiatric symptoms that include seizures, headaches, mood swings, and psychosis.

NPSLE is prevalent among lupus patients although poorly understood, affecting up to 80% of adults and 95% of children diagnosed with the disease, research shows.

SLE patients often produce autoantibodies targeting different types of RNA molecules. In this study, researchers at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in New York found, for what they believe to be a first time, autoantibodies targeting brain cytoplasmic RNAs in the serum of SLE patients that may be linked to the onset of neuropsychiatric SLE.

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