Particularities of infectious complications in systemic lupus erythematosus


Ines Naceur
Sahar Skhiri
Tayssir Ben Achour
Fatma Said
Monia Smiti
Imed Ben Ghorbel
Mohamed Habib Houman


Aim: To describe characteristics of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients with infectious complications and to determine frequency, clinical and microbiological  features and outcomes of reported infections.

Methods: This is a descriptive, retrospective study conducted over an 11-year period at the Internal Medicine Department La Rabta Hospital Tunis, collecting medical records of SLE patients who had experienced infectious complications.

Results: Fifty-six patients were included, consisting of 52 females and 4 males (gender ratio M/F= 0.07). The mean age at SLE diagnosis was 35±13.8 years. The mean duration of the disease was 4.8±3.1 years. A total of seventy-eight infections were documented. Infection revealed the disease in 12 patients (21%) and occurred after an average delay of 36 months [1-156 months] of SLE diagnosis. Forty-three patients (74%) were receiving corticosteroid therapy, associated in 37.5% of cases with immunosuppressive treatment. Urinary and pleuro-pulmonary infections were most common infectious sites. An infectious agent was identified in 59 cases (76%). Bacterial infections were the most common (76%), dominated by the enterobacteria pathogen agent. Viral infections (n=12) were mainly caused by varicella-zoster virus and cytomegalovirus. Five patients required intensive care. Twenty patients experienced a lupus flare during the infectious episode. The outcome was favorable in 52 (93%) patients. Three patients died, two due to septic shock caused by pulmonary infection in two cases and cutaneous infection in one patient. One patient died from a probable pulmonary embolism.

Conclusion: Infectious complications are responsible for significant morbidity and mortality during SLE. Hence the .... (abstract truncated at 250 words)


systemic lupus erythematosus, infections



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