Pediatric lupus versus adult lupus role of the laboratory

Marisa S Klein-Gitelman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the archetypical immunologic disease. Approximately 20% of patients present in the first two decades of life. This article highlights some of the differences between pediatric and adult onset lupus. Children are defined as different from adults on the basis of age. Lupus presents with different gender ratios based on hormonal or pubertal status with more significant skewing toward female patients in the childbearing years. Female patients in the childbearing years appear to have a higher relative risk for mortality. Despite this, children have greater disease severity at onset based on the number of patients who present with significant organ inflammation, the amount of corticosteroids required and the abnormalities in lupus serologies including autoantibodies and low complements. Children present frequently with congenital and acquired complement defects. Children have an increased risk of infections that can be confused with lupus. They have a higher risk of serious pneumococcal infection and may have less protection from vaccinations received at the time of disease onset. The clinical immunology laboratory is critical in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric SLE. The rapid analysis and transfer of laboratory results can be life saving for the child with suspected new onset lupus. The laboratory is also helpful in determining disease activity through analysis of immunologic trends over time in pediatric lupus patients. This is especially important in the noncompliant adolescent patient who has a correlation between disease activity and lupus serologic tests. Finally, the clinical immunology laboratory is an important tool for better understanding of the immunologic phenomena associated with lupus and of disease pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-350
Number of pages18
JournalClinical and Applied Immunology Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2004


  • Differences between children and adults with lupus
  • Immunologic laboratory evaluation
  • Lupis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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