Neuropsychiatric events occurred in just over half of all patients recently diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus and followed for an average of nearly 8 years in an international study of more than 1,800 patients.

Up to 30% of these neuropsychiatric (NP) events in up to 20% of the followed cohort were directly attributable to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in a representative patient population, wrote John G. Hanly, MD, and associates in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. Their findings were consistent with prior reports, they added.

Another notable finding from follow-up of these 1,827 SLE patients was that among those without a history of SLE-related NP events at baseline, 74% remained free of NP events during the subsequent 10 years, wrote Dr. Hanly, professor of medicine and director of the lupus clinic at Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S., and coauthors. Among patients free from SLE-associated NP events after 2 years, 84% remained event free during their remaining follow-up. SLE patients with a history of an NP event that subsequently resolved had a 72% rate of freedom from another NP event during 10 years of follow-up.

These findings came from patients recently diagnosed with SLE (within the preceding 15 months) and enrolled at any of 31 participating academic medical centers in North America, Europe, and Asia. The investigators considered preenrollment NP events to include those starting from 6 months prior to diagnosis of SLE until the time patients entered the study. They used case definitions for 19 SLE-associated NP events published by the American College of Rheumatology (Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Apr;42[4]:599-608). All enrolled patients underwent annual assessment for NP events, with follow-up continuing as long as 18 years.

The researchers identified NP events in 955 of the 1,827 enrolled patients, a 52% incidence, including 1,910 unique NP events that included episodes from each of the 19 NP event types, with 92% involving the central nervous system and 8% involving the peripheral nervous system. The percentage of NP events attributable to SLE ranged from 17% to 31%, and they occurred in 14%-21% of the studied patients, with the range reflecting various attribution models used in the analyses. Some patients remained in the same NP state, while others progressed through more than one state.

The study did not receive commercial funding. Dr. Hanly had no disclosures.

SOURCE: Hanly JG et al. Ann Rheum Dis. 2020 Jan 8. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-216150.