• Asia;
  • clinical manifestations;
  • lupus;
  • survival


Aim:  To provide an overview of the clinical manifestations, survival and causes of mortality of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients in Asia.

Methods:  Literature retrieval utilized the following sources: (i) computerized bibliographic database of the National Library of Medicine (MEDLINE 1986–2006) by PubMed; (ii) articles on SLE published in journals of national medical or rheumatology societies; and (iii) abstracts presented in national, regional and international rheumatology and SLE conferences. The available materials were cited to summarize and extrapolate data deemed most representative of each Asian country.

Results:  The average age at SLE diagnosis ranged from 24–33 years, with a ratio ranging from 8–28 females to one male. Cutaneous and musculoskeletal manifestations were the most frequently observed, ranging from 45–98% and 36–85%, respectively. Renal involvement ranged from 6–100% (overall), or 26–74% (excluding presenting manifestations, and data obtained from a renal centre). Survival rates ranged from 65–98% at 5 years, and 50–84% at 10 years, with a trend for improved survival in more recent reports. Infection and active SLE disease were the predominant causes of mortality, with renal and central nervous system involvement as the main organs involved at time of death.

Summary:  This overview substantiates the potential vastness of clinical material on SLE in Asia, and reinforces the need for concerted efforts to encourage more research designed to address special issues and develop a more efficient health care delivery system tailored to the Asian lupus patient.