What to Know About Lupus and Genetics

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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Lupus is a complex, autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own healthy tissue. There are many causes, and according to lupus.org, could include anything from inherited genes, environmental exposure, hormones, and more.

MORE: What to know about lupus and the immune system

However, it’s believed that the main causes of lupus are linked to genetics. Although there isn’t one particular gene that’s been specifically linked to the development of the disease, there are often multiple cases in families. It’s also been shown that if one twin develops lupus, the likelihood of the other twin developing the disease is high, strongly suggesting a genetic link in the cause of the disease.

On the other hand, most cases of lupus are what are referred to as sporadic, meaning there is no known family history of the disease. However, if there is a case of lupus in a family, it’s highly likely that there are other cases of different autoimmune diseases in that same family.

There is also evidence that suggests certain ethnic groups have a higher chance of developing lupus, which could be due to common genes.

MORE: Learn more about other autoimmune diseases here

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