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Lupus Brain

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a severe, chronic autoimmune disorder that affects multiple organ systems and it is common for patients with SLE to also have other symptoms, including depression, chronic pain, and cognitive impairment (i.e., "brain fog"). Previous research shows that reducing these may lead to better quality of life for patients but current treatments for SLE are inadequate and the development of new therapies has been slow. Targeted stimulation modalities, such as non-invasive transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), have been shown to directly affect brain activity and improve depression, chronic pain, and cognitive impairment in patients that do not have SLE. The purpose of this clinical trial is to investigate the effects of tACS on patients diagnosed with SLE to see if they would also see a similar improvement in depression, chronic pain, and cognitive impairment.

Age & Gender

  • 18 years ~ 65 years
  • Male, Female, Gender Inclusive

Visit Availability

  • Standard business hours (M-F, 8-5)


North Carolina (Statewide)

What will be asked of you

1 screening visit and 1 MRI visit to verify eligibility, 5 consecutive days of stimulation, 1 2-week follow-up, 1 4-week follow up and 1 3-month online survey follow-up


$345 total by reloadable Visa gift card (10 installments)

In-person visits : 9-11
Phone or online visits : 1
Total length of participation : 6 weeks and online survey at 3 months

Looking for Specific Volunteers

Able to participate:

  • Ages 18-65 years
  • Diagnosis of lupus (SLE)
  • Stable on all medications for 6 weeks before screening
  • Currently despressed or have a diagnosis of depression

Not eligible if:

  • Drug-induced SLE and any other rheumatologic or autoimmune disease diagnosis (except for Sjogren's syndrome and mixed connective tissue disease)
  • Neurological disorders (brain surgery, seizures, dementia, stroke, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury))
  • Medical illness (unstable cardiac disease, AIDS, liver or renal impairment, or malignant disease within 5 years before screening visit)
  • Currently taking benzodiazpines or anti-epileptic medications

Contact the Team

Visit Location

  •  Emily McCormick

100% Remote (online, phone, text)

Additional Study Information

Principal Investigator

Saira Sheikh
Medicine-UNCP A Rheumatology

Study Type

Clinical or Medical

Study Topics

Brain, Head, Nervous System
Immune System/Infections
Mental and Emotional Health

IRB Number




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