Lupus erythematodes (Latin lupus, German Wolf) is a rare autoimmune disease, which is also called butterfly lichen. In lupus erythematosus, the immune system is directed against the body’s own healthy cells. The result is damage to organs and organ systems.
There are several forms of lupus erythematosus: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can affect all organs. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) usually affects only the skin. Neonatal lupus erythematosus in infants is a consequence of maternal lupus erythematosus disease.
Lupus erythematosus occurs familial (genetic predisposition), is not contagious and can occur at any age. It should be noted that mostly women of childbearing age are affected. The course of lupus erythematosus often occurs in bouts, d. H. iterative active phases of the disease. There may be relatively long periods between the spurts in which the lupus “sleeps”, i. e. hardly or not at all active. The main feature of the lupus erythematosus is the butterfly erythema. The butterfly erythema is a redness on the face that spreads in the shape of a butterfly. That is why lupus erythematosus is also referred to as butterfly lichen.
Although the name Lupus was already documented in the 10th century, it was first introduced by the Lombard surgeon Roger Frugardi (around 1140-1195). Lupus is derived from the Latin and stands for Wolf. The reason is that one used to compare the scars (after the healing of skin damage) with scars of wolf bites. The word erythematosus means “blushing” and is inspired by the effects of butterfly lichen. As a trigger of the disease, a genetic predisposition and endogenous and exogenous play an important role.
As an autoimmune disease, the immune system plays “crazy” in lupus erythematosus. Instead of being active only in an emergency, it is permanently activated and constantly produces a high number of antibodies against the body’s own nuclear constituents. These antibodies are called antinuclear antibodies (short: ANA). These autoantibodies attack the body’s own cells.
The autoantibodies cause cell death. When the dead cells decay, core components are released. The result is that the immune system also recognizes healthy cells as foreign. In a healthy person these dead cells would be eliminated immediately so that the immune system does not even come into contact with the nuclear constituents. In lupus erythematosus, however, the immune system jumps to the erroneously recognized as foreign nuclear constituents, which actually represent the body’s own and healthy cells.