The Registro de Pacientes con Lupus Eritematoso Sistémico de la Sociedad Española de Reumatología (RELESSER) [Register of Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus of the Spanish Society of Rheumatology] is starting its prospective phase coordinated by Dr José María Pego Reigosa, researcher of the Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de Vigo (IBIV) [Institute of Biomedical Research of Vigo] linked to the BIOCAPS project, and Dr Íñigo Rúa Figueroa, from the Rheumatology Department of Dr Negrín University Teaching Hospital of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
RELESSER is the largest single-nation scientific register of patients affected by lupus in the world. Its aim is to significantly increase knowledge about this autoimmune disease, which affects one in every thousand people in Spain –with a rising incidence– while its cause is still not known for certain. Therefore, it is essential to obtain in-depth knowledge about its characteristics to be able to progress in its diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
This second phase is a continuation of the extensive work collecting information carried out in recent months. Thanks to this field work, data have been gathered on over 400 variables per person on a statistical population of 4,000 patients attending Spanish rheumatology departments. The results from analysing this information have been submitted to several international scientific journals for publication in the coming months.
The prospective phase will go a step further, with a follow-up for at least three years of several subgroups of patients, such as those recently diagnosed with lupus or those suffering from “incomplete lupus”. The latter subgroup of patients is constituted by those presenting fewer than four of the criteria for the disease, such as arthritis, photosensitivity, kidney and neurological problems, etc.
Identification of key factors
This phase of the project, which is receiving funding from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, will attempt to find out the factors that can be associated to a worse clinical evolution of the patient, to a deterioration of the quality of life related to health, to a greater need for hospital admission and to a higher mortality rate.
According to Dr Pego, a rheumatologist at the Complexo Hospitalario Universitario de Vigo (CHUVI) [University of Vigo Teaching Hospital Complex], and researcher in the BIOCAPS area of ‘Infectious diseases, inflammation and immunity’, the RELESSER project will enable in-depth knowledge to be obtained about the behaviour of the disease. This greater knowledge would lead to better management of patients with lupus and help to improve their prognosis.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic disease that affects the joints, skin and other organs, due to an erroneous attack by the immune system on healthy tissues. Its signs and symptoms include fatigue, skin rashes, lung and kidney problems, arthritis and photosensitivity. As it mainly affects women of childbearing age, particular attention is being given to the study of hormonal factors as possible triggers of the illness.