SARS-CoV-2 and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

28 Jan 2021
Thanou A, Sawalha AH


To summarize current knowledge of the impact of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) on patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).


Several observational studies, including case series, patient surveys, and patient registries, have examined the incidence and severity of COVID-19 in patients with SLE. Due to methodologic limitations (focus on sicker patients, exclusion of asymptomatic or mild cases, limited or inaccurate viral testing), it is difficult to determine the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 in SLE patients. Corticosteroids might be associated with increased hospitalizations from COVID-19 in individuals with autoimmune rheumatic diseases. Some immune suppressive treatments do not appear to significantly increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 or poor subsequent outcomes; however, data on the safety of specific drugs remain scarce. Studies in non-autoimmune cohorts have shown more severe COVID-19 in ethnic and racial minorities, populations also more heavily impacted by SLE. Such results have been attributed to highly prevalent socioeconomic disparities and comorbidities. The complex interplay between SARS-CoV-2 and the host immunologic milieu may have particular implications for patients with SLE that remain to be explored. Concerns have been raised of COVID-19 heightening the risk of thromboembolic events in the presence of an SLE-induced procoagulant state. Limitations in epidemiologic data available to date do not allow for assessing the risk and severity of COVID-19 in patients with SLE. Other than corticosteroids, prior use of some immune suppressive medications does not appear to increase the risk for infection with SARS-CoV-2 however, more comprehensive studies are needed.