Lupus - Description

The immune system is a network of cells and tissues that protect the body against foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. One mechanism used by the immune system is the release of antibodies. Antibodies are molecules that attack and destroy foreign organisms. For each type of organism, the immune system produces a special kind of antibody.

In a patient who has lupus, the immune system functions incorrectly. It thinks that the body's own cells are foreign organisms and releases antibodies to attack these cells the way it would attack bacteria and viruses. This causes tissues to become inflamed (red and swollen). They may even be killed by the attacking antibodies.

Lupus occurs in both males and females of all ages, but it is much more common in women. About 90 percent of all lupus cases occur in women. The majority of these women are of childbearing age. African Americans are more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians (whites).

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