ESR, or erythrocyte sedimentation rate, is a non-specific marker of inflammation in the body. In lupus, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, leading to chronic inflammation. This chronic inflammation can cause an increase in ESR levels.
In lupus, the immune system produces antibodies that attack various organs and tissues, including the joints, skin, kidneys, and blood vessels. These antibodies can cause damage to the cells and tissues, leading to inflammation. The inflammation in lupus can cause the production of certain proteins, such as fibrinogen and immunoglobulins, which can increase the ESR levels.
ESR is a simple blood test that measures the rate at which red blood cells settle at the bottom of a test tube. When there is inflammation in the body, the blood cells tend to stick together more easily, causing them to settle faster and resulting in a higher ESR reading.
However, it is important to note that an increase in ESR alone is not diagnostic of lupus, as many other conditions can also cause an elevated ESR level. A diagnosis of lupus requires a thorough evaluation of a patient’s symptoms, medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests, including tests for autoantibodies commonly associated with lupus.