The History of Lupus Erythematosus

Ravi K. Mallavarapu, MD; Edwin W. Grimsley, MD, FACP


South Med J. 2007;100(9):896-898. 

In This Article


This article explores the history of lupus erythematosus from the origins of the name to the most modern therapeutic advances. The review includes information about the origin of the name lupus, the first clear description of the skin lesions, the discovery of the systemic and discoid forms, and further advances which define our current view of this illness. The classical descriptions of Hippocrates, Paracelsus, Manardi, Rudolph Virchow, Cazenave, Robert Willan, and Moritz Kaposi are chronologically described. Later, the contributions of Sir William Osler, Jonathan Hutchinson, Sequira and Balean, Kraus and Bohac, Libman and Sacks, Malcolm Hargraves, and Edmund L. Dubois are highlighted. The major breakthroughs of the modern period, including the diagnostic tests, animal models, and genetics, are briefly described. The article ends with the history of drug-induced lupus, diagnostic criteria, and the history of the therapy of lupus erythematosus. With modern therapeutic advances, the mortality rate from lupus erythematosus has decreased substantially. It is hoped that current research will further improve the prognosis of this disease in the near future.


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