Research group Elisabet Svenungsson

The reserch group conducts clinical research primarily on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and ANCA associated vasculitis (AAV). The group consists of approximately 20 persons including clinical researchers, postdocs, doctoral students, students, research nurses and a research patient partner.

SLE/APS/Vasculitis group

Main research focus is clinical studies, which are often performed as translational projects in collaboration with molecular immunologists, geneticists, epidemiologists, but also patients' perceptions of symptoms and educational needs are addressed.


Since the mid-90s, we have characterized and collected samples from large cohorts of very well-characterized patients and matched controls that we follow longitudinally with careful cross-sectional studies approximately every 10 years.

  • We have identified four autoantibody defined sub-groups among SLE patients. We are now performing further studies on how these sub-groups differ regarding symptoms, type of inflammation, and genetics.
  • Studies on lupus nephritis including identification of biomarkers, histopathological studies and analysis of immune cell alterations following immunosuppressive and biologic therapy on renal SLE.
  • Cardiac Magnetic Resonance studies (CMRI) to investigate microvascular function in the myocardium of SLE patients with and without chest symptoms.
  • Autoantibody specificities in general and in circulating Immune complexes, collaboration with prof Johan Rönnelid.
  • MS proteomic study to further characterize the four SLE subgroups.
  • We collaborate internationally in studies of the genetics of SLE.
  • Molecular inflammatory process in SLE target organs: skin and kidneys.


We have collected samples from patients with APS since 2008. We investigate risk factors for recurring thromboses and pregnancy morbidities.  We also focus on the coagulation and complement systems. In APS. Another focus is on the contribution of antiphospholipid antibodies to myocardial infarctions in the general population.


Since 2008, we have characterized and collected samples from large cohorts (n=350) of well-characterized patients with AAV from the rheumatology and nephrology departements. Longitudinal follow-up has been performed in patients with active disease for up to 10 years (n=100).  We perform clinical studies, experimental studies and participate in national and international studies on AAV genetics. Additionally, we are studying patients' perception of educational needs and support using questionnaires and interviews.

Group members

Upper row from left, Susanne Pettersson, Aleksandra Antovic, Vilija Oke, bottom row from left Agneta Zickert, Elisabet Svenungsson; Iva Gunnarsson.
Upper row from left, Susanne Pettersson, Aleksandra Antovic, Vilija Oke, bottom row from left Agneta Zickert, Elisabet Svenungsson; Iva Gunnarsson. Photo: Private.
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Elisabet Svenungsson

Adjunct professor/ Research group leader

Pre-PhD student:

  • Enrico Fuzzi


We are part of the Swedish SLE network,
SLEuro and the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) group, Christian Lood University of Washington, Seattle USA, David Pisetsky, Duke University USA, Timothy Niewolds, University of Special Surgery USA.

Research support

  • Swedish Research Council
  • Swedish Heart-Lung foundation
  • Swedish Society of Medicine and Ingegerd Johansson’s donation, Stockholm City council
  • King Gustaf V’s 80-year foundation
  • Swedish Rheumatism Association
  • Karolinska Institutet’s foundations


Selected publications

Risks and treatment related aspects of COVID-19 infection in patients with ANCA-associated vasculitis.
Antovic A, Bruchfeld A, Ekland J, Lövström B, Hugelius A, Börjesson O, Knight A, Gunnarsson I
Scand J Rheumatol 2022 Sep;():1-6

Microparticles Expressing Myeloperoxidase and Complement C3a and C5a as Markers of Renal Involvement in Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibody-associated Vasculitis.
Antovic A, Mobarrez F, Manojlovic M, Soutari N, De Porta Baggemar V, Nordin A, Bruchfeld A, Vojinovic J, Gunnarsson I
J Rheumatol 2020 May;47(5):714-721

Exploring the educational needs of patients with systemic vasculitis using the educational needs assessment tool.
Brolin S, Welin E, Lövström B, Bruchfeld A, Gunnarsson I, Pettersson S
Rheumatol Adv Pract 2022 ;6(2):rkac062

Four Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Subgroups, Defined by Autoantibodies Status, Differ Regarding HLA-DRB1 Genotype Associations and Immunological and Clinical Manifestations.
Diaz-Gallo LM, Oke V, Lundström E, Elvin K, Ling Wu Y, Eketjäll S, Zickert A, Gustafsson JT, Jönsen A, Leonard D, Birmingham DJ, Nordmark G, Bengtsson AA, Rönnblom L, Gunnarsson I, Yu CY, Padyukov L, Svenungsson E
ACR Open Rheumatol 2022 Jan;4(1):27-39

Associations with thrombosis are stronger for antiphosphatidylserine/prothrombin antibodies than for the Sydney criteria antiphospholipid antibody tests in SLE.
Elbagir S, Grosso G, Mohammed NA, Elshafie AI, Elagib EM, Zickert A, Manivel VA, Pertsinidou E, Nur MAM, Gunnarsson I, Rönnelid J, Svenungsson E
Lupus 2021 Jul;30(8):1289-1299

First exposure to rituximab is associated to high rate of anti-drug antibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus but not in ANCA-associated vasculitis.
Faustini F, Dunn N, Kharlamova N, Ryner M, Bruchfeld A, Malmström V, Fogdell-Hahn A, Gunnarsson I
Arthritis Res Ther 2021 Aug;23(1):211

Rituximab in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Transient Effects on Autoimmunity Associated Lymphocyte Phenotypes and Implications for Immunogenicity.
Faustini F, Sippl N, Stålesen R, Chemin K, Dunn N, Fogdell-Hahn A, Gunnarsson I, Malmström V
Front Immunol 2022 ;13():826152

Interleukin (IL) 16: a candidate urinary biomarker for proliferative lupus nephritis.
Häyry A, Faustini F, Zickert A, Larsson A, Niewold TB, Svenungsson E, Oke V, Gunnarsson I
Lupus Sci Med 2022 Sep;9(1):

Pentraxin-3 - a potential biomarker in ANCA-associated vasculitis.
Jonasdottir AD, Antovic A, Qureshi AR, Nordin A, Malmström V, Gunnarsson I, Bruchfeld A
Scand J Rheumatol 2022 Apr;():1-9

Genetically distinct subsets within ANCA-associated vasculitis.
Lyons PA, Rayner TF, Trivedi S, Holle JU, Watts RA, Jayne DR, Baslund B, Brenchley P, Bruchfeld A, Chaudhry AN, Cohen Tervaert JW, Deloukas P, Feighery C, Gross WL, Guillevin L, Gunnarsson I, Harper L, Hrušková Z, Little MA, Martorana D, Neumann T, Ohlsson S, Padmanabhan S, Pusey CD, Salama AD, Sanders JS, Savage CO, Segelmark M, Stegeman CA, Tesař V, Vaglio A, Wieczorek S, Wilde B, Zwerina J, Rees AJ, Clayton DG, Smith KG
N Engl J Med 2012 Jul;367(3):214-23

The antiphospholipid syndrome - often overlooked cause of vascular occlusions?
Svenungsson E, Antovic A
J Intern Med 2020 Apr;287(4):349-372

High levels of circulating interferons type I, type II and type III associate with distinct clinical features of active systemic lupus erythematosus.
Oke V, Gunnarsson I, Dorschner J, Eketjäll S, Zickert A, Niewold TB, Svenungsson E
Arthritis Res Ther 2019 Apr;21(1):107

Antiphospholipid Antibodies in Patients With Myocardial Infarction.
Grosso G, Sippl N, Kjellström B, Amara K, de Faire U, Elvin K, Lindahl B, Näsman P, Rydén L, Norhammar A, Svenungsson E
Ann Intern Med 2019 Feb;170(4):277-280

Role of early repeated renal biopsies in lupus nephritis.
Zickert A, Sundelin B, Svenungsson E, Gunnarsson I
Lupus Sci Med 2014 ;1(1):e000018





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