Lupus vasculopathy: Diagnostic, pathogenetic and therapeutic considerations

M. L. Gonzalez-Suarez, A. A. Waheed, D. M. Andrews, D. P. Ascherman, X. Zeng, A. Nayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A rare form of vascular disease in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), lupus vasculopathy is characterized by necrosis and accumulation of immunoglobulins (IGs) and complements in the wall of arterioles and small arteries resulting in luminal narrowing. Lupus vasculopathy often accompanies lupus nephritis and portends a poor prognosis. Although there is general agreement on the treatment of lupus nephritis, effective treatment strategies for lupus vasculopathy remain to be defined. We report a 20-year-old woman with SLE who presented with generalized tonic-clonic seizure. Her immunosuppressive regimen consisted of mycophenolate mofetil, prednisone and hydroxychloroquine. On physical examination, she was Cushingoid in appearance and hypertensive. Laboratory tests indicated renal disease. Coagulation studies disclosed de novo lupus anticoagulant. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain demonstrated acute focal cerebral hemorrhage. Echocardiography revealed reduced ejection fraction and severe mitral regurgitation. Despite high-dose glucocorticoids and mycophenolate mofetil, renal function remained poor. Kidney biopsy demonstrated lupus vasculopathy and glomerulonephritis. Plasma exchange therapy and intravenous cyclophosphamide were administered. Over the ensuing four weeks, renal function improved, complement levels increased, autoantibody titers decreased and lupus anticoagulant disappeared. In conclusion, lupus vasculopathy can occur in SLE despite a heavy immunosuppressive regimen. Antiphospholipid antibodies might be involved in the pathogenesis of lupus vasculopathy. Plasma exchange therapy in conjunction with intravenous cyclophosphamide may represent an effective treatment strategy for lupus vasculopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-427
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • antiphospholipid antibodies
  • cyclophosphamide
  • lupus anticoagulant
  • lupus nephritis
  • Lupus vasculopathy
  • plasma exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Medicine(all)


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