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Lupus is an autoimmune disease – a condition in which the body mistakes its own healthy tissues as foreign invaders. As a result, the body wrongly attacks its own cells, which leads to inflammation and damage to various body tissues. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels and brain.

Lupus affects one out of every 185 Americans, with more than 16,000 people developing the condition each year. Although lupus can occur at any age and in both men and women, 90 percent of those diagnosed with lupus are female. In addition, African Americans, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans are at an increased risk. The cause of the disorder is unknown. However, research indicates that a combination of genetic, environmental and possibly hormonal factors are involved.

Although there is no cure for lupus, effective treatment can greatly reduce symptoms and help maintain normal body functions.

Our Approach to Lupus

UCSF provides comprehensive evaluations and advanced, personalized care for lupus. Because lupus can involve different systems in the body, our team includes doctors from several specialties, such as rheumatology, dermatology, nephrology and neurology. Our providers focus on moderate to severe lupus, and have expertise in lupus nephritis and other manifestations of the condition that can damage organs.

Treatment options include medications to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. Antimalarial drugs also may improve symptoms and prevent major flare-ups. Many people with lupus find that lifestyle changes – such as getting sufficient sleep, adopting a more nutritious diet and exercising regularly &ndash help to manage their condition and improve their quality of life.

In addition to caring for patients, our providers conduct clinical trials to evaluate potential new treatments for lupus. Interested patients may have the option to receive investigational treatments through a clinical trial.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • usnews-rheumatology

    Best in California for rheumatology

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.