Lupus patients with early-onset disease are less likely than those with late-onset lupus to suffer from lung disease. That’s according to a meta-analysis published recently in Seminars in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Christie M. Bartels, of the University of Wisconsin in Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, and colleagues used PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Cochrane to identify 39 studies, including nearly 11,000 early-onset and more than 1,650 late-onset lupus patients. Early onset was defined to occur in patients who were 50-years-old or younger.

The late-onset group was almost three times likelier to develop interstitial lung disease, which often causes lung tissue scarring and affects breathing, than was the early-onset group. The late-onset lupus patients also had higher rates than did the early-onset patients of pleurisy and serositis, both of which involve inflammation of the tissue surrounding the lungs.

“Age-related changes of the immune system, tobacco exposure, race, and possible overlap with Sjögren’s syndrome should be examined in future studies,” the researchers write.

It is common for lupus patients to experience manifestations in their lungs, with half experiencing pleuritis and up to 13 percent experiencing interstitial lung disease, notes MedPage. The article further quoted the researchers, who wrote: “Clinicians should recognize that late-onset patients are more likely to have interstitial lung disease and screen for the condition when appropriate.”

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