Lupus Affects Asians/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics in New York, San Francisco at Alarming Rates, Studies Find

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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Newly published findings from two population-based registries in New York City and San Francisco have shed light on racial disparities in the prevalence of lupus in the United States.

Data from the Manhattan Lupus Surveillance Program first showed that lupus is more prevalent among Hispanic and Asian women in Manhattan. Now, results from a second registry, the California Lupus Surveillance Project, show that Asians/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics of any ethnicity are at a much higher risk for lupus than white Americans.

In both studies, researchers found a relevant correlation between lupus and kidney disease, called lupus nephritis.

Results from both registries were published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology. The Manhattan study was led by Peter Izmirly, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. The San Francisco study was led by Maria Dall’Era, MD, professor of medicine and director of the Lupus Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco.

“The California Lupus Surveillance Project confirmed striking racial and ethnic disparities in the incidence and prevalence of lupus with the highest burden of disease in Black women, followed by Hispanic, Asian, and White women,” Dall’Era said in a press release. “With a substantial number of Asian and Hispanic patients in San Francisco County, we were able to determine credible estimates of disease burden in these understudied populations.”

“The population data from this Manhattan Lupus Surveillance Program, which includes Asians and Hispanics, groups where data are limited, substantiates our clinical impressions that more non-Whites have lupus than Whites, but they also have a higher burden of lupus manifestations,” Izmirly said. “Based on our data, 50 percent of non-White cases developed lupus nephritis, one of the most serious and disabling manifestations of the disease, compared with 25 percent of Whites.”

The two registries are the first in the U.S. with a sufficient number of Asians and Hispanics to measure the incidence and prevalence of lupus among these populations. However, because of the complexity involved in diagnosing lupus in different geographic regions, not all providers who have seen lupus patients participated in the registry and not all lupus patients in the registries had complete data, resulting in a possible underestimation of the real impact of lupus in these populations in both New York City and San Francisco.

Researchers involved in these Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-supported National Lupus Patient Registries are now working to learn more about lupus through follow-up studies in men and women to improve interventions nationwide.