Objectives To evaluate whether gender influences the clinical course and outcome in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods Four hundred eighty-nine SLE patients were followed up at the University Hospital of Ioannina, Greece between 1981 and December 2000. These patients were reevaluated and the demographic, clinical, serological, radiological and therapeutic information were entered in a database. We divided our patients in two groups according to the gender. The disease activity and outcome were measured using the European Lupus Activity Score (ECLAM).
Results There were 421 women and 68 men, ratio 7:1. There were no differences between men and women concerning age, disease duration, age at disease onset and disease follow up. Except for serositis in men, which was significantly more frequent (p = 0.01), organ involvement was not statistically different between the two groups. Laboratory evaluation showed that women had significantly higher levels of erythrocyte sedimentation rate compared to men (p = 0.001), while positive anti-nuclear antibodies and raised complement levels were more frequent in women (p = 0.08). There were no significant differences in ECLAM scores between the two groups as well as in the disease outcome for SLE patients.
Conclusion SLE in men is a rare disease and the clinical expression and disease outcome seem to be similar to those described in women.