Systemic lupus erythematosus, commonly known as lupus, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in various areas of the body, resulting in tissue inflammation and damage as well as other illnesses.
Under normal circumstances, the immune system produces antibodies to fight off antigens such as bacteria, viruses and microbes. Those with lupus, however, have immune systems that are unable to differentiate between antigens and healthy tissue. Autoantibodies are then produced, which neutralize both antigens and functional cells, resulting in swelling and tissue deterioration.
Lupus can affect any part of the body, most commonly in the skin, kidneys, lungs, brain, heart, liver, joints and the nervous system. It occurs less commonly in men, with 90% of those diagnosed with the condition being women.