Arthritis is a common symptom associated with systemic lupus erythematosus. Inflammatory arthritis is also associated with the condition of rheumatoid arthritis. However, the arthritis of lupus is of lower severity when compared to arthritis of rheumatoid arthritis. There exists a genetic link between rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which sheds light on the possibility of a person experiencing the symptoms of both diseases.
In this article, we are exploring the link between lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
What Is Lupus?
Lupus is considered an autoimmune condition that affects the joints and internal organs of the person like the heart, kidneys, lungs, and the brain. The rash that appears on the face is characteristic of lupus and it can worsen on being exposed to the sun.
Lupus may lead to serious health conditions like seizures. Some people suffering from lupus are also known to have low red blood cell counts. This decrease in the count of red blood cells could lead to anemia or low white blood cell counts that can weaken the immune system.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints and is usually associated with a wide range of symptoms ranging from the stiffness of the joints to swelling and pain. The range of motion of the joints of people with arthritis is limited, thereby preventing the full extension of the joints.
What Is The Genetic Link Between Lupus And Arthritis?
A 2017 study suggested the existence of a genetic link between lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It is all due to the mutations of the gene STAT4 in our body.
As per the study, people who have the mutated versions of this gene have a two times higher risk of developing lupus. Similarly, these people are also at a 60% higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Although the exact reason for the mutation of the STAT4 gene is unknown, it is known that the mutation increases the risk of developing autoimmune disorders.
Mutations of the STAT4 gene are also known to contribute to the risk of developing systemic scleroderma and idiopathic arthritis.
As of now, there are no easy ways to detect if we are carrying a mutated STAT4 gene because genetic testing hasn’t grown to that advanced level.
What Can Be Done?
The knowledge of a genetic link between lupus and rheumatoid arthritis indicates that both diseases are going to respond to similar treatments. You will need to combine various treatments to reduce organ damage and check flare-ups.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, lupus arthritis is not a much severe condition, unlike rheumatoid arthritis. Joint deformities are reported in less than 10% of people with this condition.