Study by LFA grantee reports on potential fatigue biomarker in lupus

Lupus Foundation of America

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A study published in a recent issue of the journal Lupus characterizes a new potential biomarker of fatigue in people with lupus. The study’s lead author is Barbara Segal, M.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases at the University of Minnesota, whose research on fatigue began in 2006 with a grant from the Lupus Foundation of America.

“Fatigue interferes with the quality of patients’ lives and is also an aspect of lupus that is very difficult for researchers to study,” says Emily Baechler Gillespie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases at the University of Minnesota, who co-authored the study. “Fatigue can be so severe in some people with lupus that it interferes with performing their day-to-day activities,” she said, adding that researchers have a “very poor understanding of the root causes of this persistent fatigue.”

The study included 71 people with lupus with mild disease activity and minimal organ damage, as well as 51 healthy people. In their research, Dr. Segal and colleagues found that blood levels of a biochemical factor known as F2-isoprostane are significantly elevated in people with lupus experiencing fatigue. This elevation occurs in fatigued people with lupus as compared to people with lupus who are not experiencing fatigue but who are otherwise similar in terms of ethnicity, disease activity, and cardiovascular risk factors.

“This finding opens the door for new studies that can investigate the mechanisms by which this factor contributes to fatigue and gives hope for new avenues for treatment that might help relieve this common and debilitating feature of lupus,” Dr. Gillespie added.


Oxidative stress and fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus.
Segal B, Thomas W, Zhu X, Diebes A, McElvain G, Baechler E, Gross M. (2012). 
Lupus 21: 984-992.