Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your own healthy tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. The Stem Cells Transplant Institute in Costa Rica, uses adult autologous stem cells for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus.

The symptoms of lupus will depend on what part of the body is being attacked but the most common symptoms include;

  • Dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Skin lesion
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon (fingers and toes that turn white or blue)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Confusion or memory loss

What is Lupus?

Normally the immune system produces antibodies which protect the body from foreign invaders such as; viruses, bacteria and germs. In lupus the immune system malfunctions and is unable to distinguish between, these foreign invaders, and the body’s healthy tissue. The immune system sends autoantibodies to attack and destroy the healthy tissue. Approximately 10% of lupus patients will go on to develop the more severe systemic lupus erythematosus.

Lupus is a chronic disease that can range from mild to life threatening. No two lupus patients are alike, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe, and temporary to permanent.  Some patients experience a sudden onset of symptoms, while others may have symptoms that develop slowly. Current FDA approved treatments decrease inflammation and/or the level of autoimmune activity. Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms and if organs are involved. Patients with more severe symptoms will be given corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, monoclonal-antibody or Rituxan. Patients are rarely cured using standard treatments and life-long treatment is often required. Prescribed medications are costly, treatment will usually change, finding the right combination of medication can take years, and there is a risk of serious adverse events with all of the treatment options.4

Can stem cell therapy improve symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus?

Physicians in China have evaluated the safety and efficacy of mesenchymal stem cell treatments in more than 200 patients unresponsive to standard treatments. Overall results showed 75% of patients responded to treatment and some patients experienced a reduction of symptoms for up to 24 months. In a 5 year follow up of 81 patients, 54% of patients continued to achieve complete or partial remission of the disease. After 6 years, researchers continue to find stem cell therapy to be safe and effective with no severe treatment related adverse events.1-4

 What type of stem cells are used?

The Stem Cells Transplant Institute uses autologous mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus.  Autologous means the stem cells are collected from the recipient so the risk of rejection is virtually eliminated. Mesenchymal stem cells are one type of adult stem cells that are found in a variety of tissues including; adipose tissue, lung, bone marrow, and blood.  Mesenchymal stem cells are a promising treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus because of their; immunosuppressive properties, anti-inflammatory capabilities and cell regenerative properties. Treatment at the Stem Cells Transplant Institute may improve the symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus.

Costa Rica has one of the best healthcare systems in world and is ranked among the highest for medical tourism. Using the most advanced technologies, the team of experts at The Stem Cells Transplant Institute believes in the potential of stem cell therapy for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. We are committed to providing personalized service and the highest quality of care to every patient.

How are the stem cells collected?

A team of stem cell experts developed an FDA approved method and protocol for harvesting and isolating adipose derived stem cells for autologous reimplantation. The collection and use of adult stem cells does not require the destruction of embryos and for this reason, more U.S. federal funding is being spent on stem cell research.

How are the stem cells administered?

The stem cells are typically administered intravenously.



1.Wang D, Li J, Zhang Y, Zhang M, Chen J, Li X, et al. Umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in active and refractory systemic lupus erythematosus: a multicenter clinical study. Arthritis Res Ther.2014;16:R79. 2.Wang, D., Niu, L., Feng, X. et al. Long-term safety of umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells transplantation for systemic lupus erythematosus: a 6-year follow-up study Clin Exp Med (2017) 17: 333. 3.Wang D, Sun L SAT0244 A long-term follow-up study of allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells transplantation in patients with drug-resistant systemic lupus erythematosus Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2017;76:866. 4.Cras et al. Update on mesenchymal stem cell-based therapy in lupus scleroderma. Arthritis Research & Therapy (2015) 17:301

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