Fatigue in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Grace E Ahn; Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman


Int J Clin Rheumatol. 2012;7(2):217-227. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease often characterized by fatigue, with significant effects on physical functioning and wellbeing. The definition, prevalence and factors associated with fatigue, including physical activity, obesity, sleep, depression, anxiety, mood, cognitive dysfunction, vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency, pain, effects of medications and comorbidities, as well as potential therapeutic options of fatigue in the systemic lupus erythematosus population are reviewed. Due to variability in the reliability and validity of various fatigue measures used in clinical studies, clinical trial data have been challenging to interpret. Further investigation into the relationships between these risk factors and fatigue, and improved measures of fatigue, may lead to an improvement in the management of this chronic inflammatory disease.


The prevalence of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in the USA is estimated to be 15–50 per 100,000 population.[1] There is variability in the reliability and validity of various fatigue measures used in clinical studies. There are also inconsistent findings regarding the usefulness of biomarkers and imaging studies as measures of fatigue in SLE that we also discuss. Finally, we present the knowledge gaps where further research is needed to more precisely measure fatigue to facilitate efficacy assessments of the treatments for fatigue.


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