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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Increase Lupus Risk

A case-controlled study shows environmental exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) may increase the risk of developing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). 

This case-control study compared 316 SLE patients and 851 healthy controls (HCs) and assessed their environmental exposure to PAH by questionnaire. Blood samples collected from a subset (89 HCs, 85 inactive, and 95 active SLE) to measure serum benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide -albumin (BPDE-Alb) adducts and PAH concentrations, to assess long-term and short-term exposure respectively. 

Diverse patterns of environmental factors affected SLE risk. 

  • PAH exposure levels progressively increase from HCs to inactive and active SLE patients. 

  • Lifestyle exposure was a stronger determinant of SLE onset than occupational exposure to PAH in women under 35. 

  • Indoor air pollution had a significant impact on SLE risk compared to outdoor air pollution. 

  • Active SLE patients show markedly higher serum BPDE-Alb, indicating long-term PAH exposure (compared to HC)

Environmental PAH, particularly lifestyle-related, are significant, yet under-recognized, risk factors for SLE.


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The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject