Lupus is not a hereditary condition. However, genetic factors play an important role in the condition, and certain inheritable genes may increase a person’s risk of developing lupus.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Health experts may refer to lupus as a complex disease. This is because lupus may result from the contribution of multiple gene variations with a significant influence from the environment.

Although a person cannot inherit lupus, there is a genetic component to the condition. Autoimmune conditions tend to run in families, but there is no simple inheritance pattern. While a person may inherit genes associated with lupus, they will not necessarily inherit lupus. Additionally, it is also possible to sporadically develop lupus.

In this article, we will discuss possible genetic factors that may lead to the development of lupus.

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While genetics plays a large role in the development of lupus, it is not strictly an hereditary condition. This is because the condition typically occurs due to the interaction of several different factors.

Scientists have identified more than 50 genes which they associate with lupus. Some genes associated with lupus include:

  • IRF5
  • NCF2
  • PTPN22
  • STAT4
  • TREX1

As such, researchers may refer to lupus as a polygenic disease, meaning many different genes contribute toward the development of the condition.

However, no single gene or group of genes causes lupus. While lupus may appear in certain families, most cases are sporadic. This means that no other known relative has lupus. Although lupus can develop in those with no family history, there are often other autoimmune conditions in other family members.

Ongoing research continues to identify new genes that may play a role in the condition. For example, a 2022 study suggests that the TLR7 gene could be a primary genetic driver of lupus. The TLR7 gene is present on the X chromosome and plays a critical role in activating the immune system. However, more research is still necessary to understand this gene’s role in developing lupus.

Lupus, and many other autoimmune conditions, tend to run in families. However, autoimmune conditions do not typically follow a simple inheritance pattern.

Evidence suggests that some people may inherit a gene variation that can increase or descrease their risk of lupus. However, in many cases, while they may inherit high risk genes, a person does not necessarily inherit the condition itself.

However, there is a rare type of lupus that follows an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. This means a person may develop systemic lupus erythematosus-16 if they inherit a gene variation in the DNASE1L3 gene from both their parents.

Additionally, other research also highlights the role of epigenetics in the development of lupus. This term refers to how the environment can affect the way genes work.

A variety of factors likely contribute toward the development of lupus. Evidence suggests that lupus occurs due to a complex interplay of:

  • genes
  • hormones
  • environmental factors

Research has identified multiple genetic factors associated with lupus that play a role in immune function. It is likely that changes in these genes contribute to the immune response that leads to lupus. However, the presence of these genes does not necessarily mean a person will develop lupus.

Hormones, such as estrogen, and a variety of environmental factors — such as infections, drugs, stress, and sunlight — also likely play a role in triggering lupus.

However, more research is still necessary to understand how these different factors interact and lead to the development of the condition.

As a complex condition with a variety of potential symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose lupus. As it may present with symptoms similar to other, more easily identifiable conditions, a person may receive a misdiagnosis.

As there is currently no cure, it is important to receive prompt treatment to help manage symptoms. As such, a delayed diagnosis may mean that people live with symptoms for years without receiving proper treatment.

At present, no single test can diagnose lupus. To help with the diagnostic process, a doctor may suggest:

  • discussing medical history
  • discussing family history
  • a physical exam
  • blood and urine tests
  • skin or kidney biopsy

Lupus is a condition that can affect many different parts of the body and cause a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • extreme fatigue
  • pain or swelling in the joints
  • swelling in the hands, feet, or around the eyes
  • headaches
  • fevers
  • sensitivity to sunlight
  • chest pain when breathing deeply

Other possible symptoms can include:

If people begin to notice symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, joint pain, and skin lesions, it is advisable for them to contact a doctor. If people notice these symptoms and are aware that lupus runs in their family, they should mention their family history during the evaluation.

Although lupus is not an hereditary condition, genetic factors play a large role in the development of the condition. Health experts may refer to it as a complex disease. This refers to the fact that it involves the contribution of many different factors.

Research has highlighted many different genes associated with lupus. While a person may inherit these genes from a parent, possessing these genes does not necessarily mean a person will develop lupus.