Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects multiple organ systems. When eyes are involved, the principle manifestations are hemorrhage, retinal cotton wool spots, microangiopathy and vaso-occlusion. Research in the past two decades has significantly contributed to our understanding about this disease in general and its therapeutic management, although knowledge about the mechanism of ocular involvement and pathogenesis in SLE is limited. This is an important issue, because the ocular symptoms in this disease could be potentially sight threatening in acute cases. Here, we present an overview of the clinical and histopathologic features of retinal and choroidal vascular changes, as seen in patients with SLE. We discuss the role of immune complex deposition in vascular pathogenesis in the eye. Reports indicated an involvement of antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) in the retinal and choroidal vasculopathy in SLE, although their precise role in this process is uncertain. It is important to look for mechanisms of immune complex-mediated vasculopathy and role of inflammatory mediators in this process in SLE. For this, established animal models can be utilized in research to learn about the precise role of various autoantibodies and complements involved in disease pathogenesis. A clear knowledge about the immunopathogenesis is warranted, and the rationale for the future therapy should be based on reducing vascular inflammation as well as ameliorating autoimmunity in this disease.
Keywords: Eye, systemic lupus erythematosus, vascular occlusions, autoimmunity, pathogenesis, immune complex
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