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Current Rheumatology Reports

, 20:55 | Cite as

Artemisinins—a Promising New Treatment for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: a Descriptive Review

  • Xiaozhen Mu
  • Chenchen Wang
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (S Kolasinski, Section Editor)
  • 193 Downloads
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex, potentially fatal autoimmune disease with no complete cure. Current treatments for SLE are limited by suboptimal efficacy and increased risk of infections and malignancies, and cannot meet the clinical demands of patients with SLE. Artemisinin and its derivatives (artemisinins), a new class of anti-malarial drugs, have recently been reported to have an immunosuppressive effect on lupus patients. In this review, we evaluate the therapeutic properties and potential mechanisms of artemisinins for the treatment of SLE.

Recent Findings

Both clinical and animal studies suggest that artemisinins have potential beneficial effects for SLE. The beneficial effects associated with artemisinin treatment include improving symptoms, reducing level of antibodies and proteinuria, ameliorating renal damage, and diminishing the dosage of prednisone use. Animal studies suggest that mechanisms of action of artemisinins may include regulating T cell subsets, inhibiting activation of B cells and production of inflammatory cytokines, as well as blocking the NF-κB signal transduction pathway, thus playing a role in anti-inflammation and immunomodulation.

Summary

Artemisinin family drugs are a promising potential new medication that may challenge the current treatment paradigms available for SLE.

Keywords

Systemic lupus erythematosus Lupus nephritis Anti-malarial drug Artemisinin Treatment Artemisinin derivatives (Artemisinins) 

Notes

Funding information

Dr. Wang is supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (K24 AT007323).

Dr. Wang is supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH, R01AT006367, R01AT005521 and K24AT007323). “The organizations above did not have any role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; or decision to submit the manuscript for publication. The investigators are solely responsible for the content of the manuscript and the decision to submit for publication.”

Dr. Mu is supported by the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Guang’anmen Hospital, Beijing.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Rheumatology of Guang’anmen Hospital Affiliated to China Academy of Chinese Medical SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Division of RheumatologyTufts Medical Center/Tufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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