Drug-induced lupus erythematosus: Incidence, management and prevention

Christopher Chang, M. Eric Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The generation of autoantibodies and autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus has been associated with the use of certain drugs in humans. Early reports suggested that procainamide and hydralazine were associated with the highest risk of developing lupus, quinidine with a moderate risk and all other drugs were considered low or very low risk. More recently, drug-induced lupus has been associated with the use of the newer biological modulators such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α inhibitors and interferons. The clinical features and laboratory findings of TNFα inhibitor-induced lupus are different from that of traditional drug-induced lupus or idiopathic lupus, and standardized criteria for the diagnosis of drug-induced lupus have not been established. The mechanism(s) responsible for the development of drug-induced lupus may vary depending on the drug or even on the patient. Besides lupus, other autoimmune diseases have been associated with drugs or toxins. Diagnosis of drug-induced lupus requires identification of a temporal relationship between drug administration and symptom development, and in traditional drug-induced lupus there must be no pre-existing lupus. Resolution of symptoms generally occurs after cessation of the drug.In this review, we will discuss those drugs that are more commonly associated with drug-induced lupus, with an emphasis on the new biologicals and the difficulty of making the diagnosis of drug-induced lupus against a backdrop of the autoimmune diseases that these drugs are used to treat. Stimulation of the immune system by these drugs to cause autoimmunity may in fact be associated with an increased effectiveness in treating the pathology for which they are prescribed, leading to the dilemma of deciding which is worse, the original disease or the adverse effect of the drug. Optimistically, one must hope that ongoing research in drug development and in pharmacogenetics will help to treat patients with the maximum effectiveness while minimizing side effects. Vigilance and early diagnosis are critical. The purpose of this review is to summarize the most recent developments in our understanding of the incidence, pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of drug-induced lupus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-374
Number of pages18
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2011


  • Autoimmune-disorders
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Cytokines
  • Hydralazine
  • Minocycline
  • Procainamide
  • Quinidine
  • Systemic-lupus- erythematosus
  • Systemic-lupus-erythematosus
  • Tumour-necrosis-factor-alpha-inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology


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