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Lupus Lifestyle Articles

The Lupus Sisterhood

By Renee Rinaldi, MD

Over the last year, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the team at Lupus LA, and have been so impressed by their commitment, courage, and savoir faire that I am delighted to accept their offer to chair the Medical Advisory Board.

One of my responsibilities is to advise Lupus LA patients and their families of new developments in research. Here’s my first go at it!

Rheumatologists are often asked by newly diagnosed lupus patients about the chances of other family members developing lupus. We can only provide an approximate answer. Estimates of increased risk to first degree relatives of lupus patients vary from 4-10%, compared to a risk of 0.2% for the general population.

The team at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Long Island, NY has launched the NIH-funded national “SisSLE” study in cooperation with the rheumatology division at Cedars Sinai Medical Center to provide a more accurate answer by studying the healthy sisters of female lupus patients.

They are enrolling 400 women with lupus diagnosed before the age of 35 and their unaffected sisters under age 35. They will study environmental and genetic risk factors through tests on blood samples that they will arrange to have sent to them from across the country. They expect that most sisters will not develop lupus. But by identifying those sisters who do progress, they will determine viral, nutritional, genetic and immune factors that contribute to the development of lupus, in the hopes of developing better treatments.

If you would like to participate, please contact the SisSLE study nurse at 1-877-698-9467 or visit

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