Racial discrimination linked to increased inflammation among Black women with systemic lupus erythematosus, study finds

Aug. 16, 2023
Urgent need for targeted interventions and policies to address systemic racism and promote health equity.

New research from the Black Women's Experiences Living with Lupus (BeWELL) Study has revealed that racial discrimination is a distinct health threat that heightens the risk of disease among Black Americans. The research, focused on Black women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an inflammatory autoimmune disease, sheds light on the detrimental effects of psychosocial stress on health and the role of inflammatory mechanisms. The study was published in August in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Over a two-year period, the BeWELL Study examined incident experiences of racial discrimination and changes in the inflammatory biomarker C-reactive protein (CRP) – a protein made by the liver that increases when there's inflammation in the body -- among 380 participants from metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. The study, which enrolled participants from April 2015 to May 2017, utilized the Experiences of Discrimination measure to assess racial discrimination bi-annually through self-report. CRP levels were measured annually.

The findings of the study revealed a significant association between incident racial discrimination and elevated CRP levels throughout the two-year study period. The increase in CRP levels was substantial, with each domain of racial discrimination experienced resulting in a nearly 4% rise.

Ochsner Health release on Newswise