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Lupus and MS: What’s the Difference?


Updated April 28, 2014

Lupus and multiple sclerosis (MS) are both autoimmune diseases. Lupus triggers a response from the immune system that may attack various organs in the body. Multiple sclerosis, on the other hand, attacks myelin, the fatty protective layer over nerves fibers in the brain and spinal cord.

As with lupus, there is no definitive cause of MS and a combination of factors may play a part. Another factor lupus and multiple sclerosis have in common is that there is no good test for either disease. Rather, the diagnosis relies on a set of characteristic symptoms, signs and lab tests that can't be explained by another diagnosis.

Lupus and MS are different diseases, but they have commonalities. In addition to being autoimmune diseases, they generally affect the same age population -- younger women -- and both can follow a remitting-relapsing pattern. While the nerves are the primary target of MS, it’s possible that lupus can also have definite neurological component as well.


“Multiple sclerosis, neuropsychiatric lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome: where do we stand?” Ferreira, S. RHEUMATOLOGY Volume: 44 Issue: 4 Pages: 434-442 April 2005

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