Article Text

Download PDFPDF

I too, am America: a review of research on systemic lupus erythematosus in African-Americans
  1. Edith M Williams1,
  2. Larisa Bruner2,
  3. Alyssa Adkins3,
  4. Caroline Vrana4,
  5. Ayaba Logan5,
  6. Diane Kamen6 and
  7. James C Oates7
  1. 1Division of Rheumatology, Department of Public Health Sciences, Medicine, MUSC Center for Health Disparities Research, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
  2. 2Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  3. 3University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  4. 4Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
  5. 5The Department of Public Health and Programs in Nurse Anesthesia, Liaison for College of Nursing, Medical University of South Carolina Library, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
  6. 6Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
  7. 7Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Edith M Williams, wiled{at}


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multi-organ autoimmune disorder that can cause significant morbidity and mortality. A large body of evidence has shown that African-Americans experience the disease more severely than other racial-ethnic groups. Relevant literature for the years 2000 to August 2015 were obtained from systematic searches of PubMed, Scopus, and the EBSCOHost platform that includes MEDLINE, CINAHL, etc. to evaluate research focused on SLE in African-Americans. Thirty-six of the 1502 articles were classified according to their level of evidence. The systematic review of the literature reported a wide range of adverse outcomes in African-American SLE patients and risk factors observed in other mono and multi-ethnic investigations. Studies limited to African-Americans with SLE identified novel methods for more precise ascertainment of risk and observed novel findings that hadn't been previously reported in African-Americans with SLE. Both environmental and genetic studies included in this review have highlighted unique African-American populations in an attempt to isolate risk attributable to African ancestry and observed increased genetic influence on overall disease in this cohort. The review also revealed emerging research in areas of quality of life, race-tailored interventions, and self-management. This review reemphasizes the importance of additional studies to better elucidate the natural history of SLE in African-Americans and optimize therapeutic strategies for those who are identified as being at high risk.

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Epidemiology
  • Autoimmune Diseases

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.