Systemic lupus erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a rare immune-mediated disease of dogs.
Dogs in contact with human sufferers of SLE have a higher risk of developing SLE themselves, suggesting a common environmental factor or zoonotic agent.
SLE presents in dogs as a disease complex with immune-mediated history similar to canine pemphigus. SLE is associated with certain alleles and haplotypes of the dog leukocyte antigen (DLA), which includes the canine major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II genes DRB1, DQA1 and DQB1.
Clinically affected dogs usually have various dermatopathies such as localized ulcerative and generalized exfoliative dermatitis, and systemic signs such as fever, inappetence, lethargy, arthralgia, myalgia, stiffness and multiple lesions. Immune-mediated arthritis is a common sequela with this disease.
Diagnosis usually requires histopathological testing of skin biopsies and demonstration of lymphocyte-rich interface dermatitis with epidermal atrophy and dermo-epidermal deposition of immunoglobulins and activated complement. Most dogs react positive histologically to anti-nuclear antibodies.
Oral prednisolone has long been held as the standard therapy for this disease, however, alternative methods have been employed.
Treatment with the antimalarial immunomodulator hydroxychloroquine (5 mg/kg once daily) augmented with topical 0.1% tacrolimus ointment for 2 weeks has been successful.
Restriction of access to direct sunlight during this period assists resolution of skin lesions.
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