The role of ophthalmic imaging in central nervous system degeneration in systemic lupus erythematosus

Arnaldo Dias-Santos, Rita Pinto Proença, Joana Tavares Ferreira, Sofia Pinheiro, João Paulo Cunha, Rui Proença, Maria F. Moraes-Fontes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune connective tissue disorder that can involve any organ system. Central nervous system involvement can be a severe life threatening complication, ultimately resulting in severe neurodegenerative changes. Magnetic resonance imaging suggests that neurodegeneration, which may have deleterious effects on brain function, may occur early in SLE and experimental models suggest that neuroprotection may be feasible and beneficial. The retina is an extension of the brain. Recent ophthalmic imaging technologies are capable of identifying early changes in retinal and choroidal morphology and circulation that may reflect CNS degeneration. However, their utility in monitoring CNS involvement in SLE has been poorly studied as these have only been performed in small cohorts, in a cross-sectional design, non-quantitatively and without correlation to disease activity. The authors aim to review the current understanding of neurodegeneration associated with SLE, with particular focus on the visual pathway. We describe the neuropathology of the visual system in SLE and the evidence for retinal and choroidal neurodegenerative and microvascular changes using optical coherence tomography technology. We aim to describe the potential role of optical imaging modalities in NPSLE diagnosis and their likely impact on the study of neuronal function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-624
Number of pages7
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number6
Early online date7 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • SLE
  • Neuropsychiatric lupus
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Visual pathway
  • Optical coherence tomography


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