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What is lupus?

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Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system, the body's defence system, produces antibodies that attack your body’s own tissues, causing inflammation. There are two main types of lupus:

  • discoid lupus
  • systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

These pages focus on SLE, which is often just known as lupus.

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Lupus: a special report

George Plumptre

Two years ago former Times gardening correspondent George Plumptre donated a kidney to his brother Francis, when lupus caused his kidneys to fail. Now chief executive of the National Gardens Scheme, which made Arthritis Research UK its guest charity in 2010–11, he tells how his donation transformed his brother’s life.

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For more information, go to or call 0800 389 6692 to order the complete printed booklet.
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.