Non-Cardiac Manifestations of Neonatal Lupus Erythematosus

Authors


E. Silverman, MD FRCPC, Ho Family Chair Autoimmunity, Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology, Division of Rheumatology, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. E-mail: earl.silverman@sickkids.ca

Abstract

Neonatal lupus erythematosus (NLE) is characterized by the transplacental passage of maternal anti-Ro and/or anti-La antibodies and characteristic illnesses in the foetus/neonate. Most attention has focused on the most serious complication- cardiac involvement. This article will focus on non-cardiac involvement. Skin involvement (cutaneous NLE) is present in 15–25% of children with NLE. The rash of NLE tends to be photosensitive but may be present at birth or in non-sun exposed areas. It is most frequently seen around the eyes, not in the malar area, but also occurs in other parts of the body. The pathology resembles the rash of subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Anti-Ro antibodies are present in >95% with the remaining mothers having anti-U1RNP antibodies only. Asymptomatic elevation of liver function tests, which may be associated with evidence of cholestasis, is seen in 10–25% of cases of NLE. Mild hepatomegaly and less commonly splenomegaly may be present. Liver involvement seen in isolation or associated with other features. The pathology resembles idiopathic neonatal giant cell hepatitis. Any haematological lineage, neutropenia and thrombocytopenia most commonly, may be affected by NLE. Haematological involvement is almost always asymptomatic. There are protean manifestations of neurologic involvement in NLE: hydrocephalus, non-specific white matter changes, calcification of the basal ganglia and a ‘vasculopathy’. The most unusual feature of NLE is the radiographic finding of stippling of the epiphyses (chondrodysplasia punctata). Overall, non-cardiac involvement of NLE is more common than cardiac. The study of these manifestations may lead to new insight into how autoantibodies lead to disease.

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