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28-07-2018 | Systemic lupus erythematosus | Review | Article

Artemisinins—a Promising New Treatment for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: a Descriptive Review

Current Rheumatology Reports

Authors: Xiaozhen Mu, Chenchen Wang

Publisher: Springer US


Purpose of Review

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex, potentially fatal autoimmune disease with no complete cure. Current treatments for SLE are limited by suboptimal efficacy and increased risk of infections and malignancies, and cannot meet the clinical demands of patients with SLE. Artemisinin and its derivatives (artemisinins), a new class of anti-malarial drugs, have recently been reported to have an immunosuppressive effect on lupus patients. In this review, we evaluate the therapeutic properties and potential mechanisms of artemisinins for the treatment of SLE.

Recent Findings

Both clinical and animal studies suggest that artemisinins have potential beneficial effects for SLE. The beneficial effects associated with artemisinin treatment include improving symptoms, reducing level of antibodies and proteinuria, ameliorating renal damage, and diminishing the dosage of prednisone use. Animal studies suggest that mechanisms of action of artemisinins may include regulating T cell subsets, inhibiting activation of B cells and production of inflammatory cytokines, as well as blocking the NF-κB signal transduction pathway, thus playing a role in anti-inflammation and immunomodulation.


Artemisinin family drugs are a promising potential new medication that may challenge the current treatment paradigms available for SLE.