LE can appear in people of any age. However, in most patients, the LE symptoms appear between ages 15 and 40 years, with a mean age of 29-32 years (Cervera et al. 1993). Conversely, LE can appear before 15 years of age in 8%-15% of patients and in a similar percentage of older patients (>55 years) (Cervera et al. 1993, Font et al. 1991, Nepom and Schaller 1984, Ting and Hsieh 1992). In some studies carried out recently (Gudmundsson and Steisson 1990, Hochberg et al. 1995, Ting and Hsieh 1992), the mean age of appearance of symptoms has increased to 41-47 years.
It is interesting to note that, in several studies, patient age at the beginning of symptoms can modify the clinical and immunologic characteristics of LE. Thus, in the Euro-Lupus project (Cervera et al. 1993), patients whose disease appeared during childhood had a greater incidence of renal disease and a lower incidence of rheumatoid factor. Conversely, patients whose disease appeared at an elderly age presented a lower incidence of malar rash, arthritis, and renal disease as initial manifestations, thus making difficult their diagnosis.
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