Kidney disease is one of the most serious manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Despite the improvement in the medical care of SLE in the past two decades, the prognosis of lupus nephritis remains unsatisfactory. Besides exploring more effective but less toxic treatment modalities that will further improve the remission rate, early detection and treatment of renal activity may spare patients from intensive immunosuppressive therapies and reduce renal damage. Conventional clinical parameters such as creatinine clearance, proteinuria, urine sediments, anti-dsDNA, and complement levels are not sensitive or specific enough for detecting ongoing disease activity in the lupus kidneys and early relapse of nephritis. Thus, novel biomarkers are necessary to enhance the diagnostic accuracy and sensitivity of lupus renal disease, prognostic stratification, monitoring of treatment response, and detection of early renal flares. This paper reviews promising biomarkers that have recently been evaluated in longitudinal studies of lupus nephritis.
Although the prognosis for Lupus Nephritis (LN) has dramatically improved with aggressive immunosuppressive therapies, these drugs carry significant side effects. To improve the effectiveness of these drugs, biomarkers of renal flare cycle could be used to detect the onset, severity, and responsiveness of kidney relapses, and to modify therapy accordingly. However, LN is a complex disease and individual biomarkers have so far not been sufficient to accurately describe disease activity. It has been postulated that biomarkers would be more informative if integrated into a pathogenic-based model of LN.
This work is a first attempt to integrate human LN biomarkers data into a model of kidney inflammation. Our approach is based on a system of differential equations that capture, in a simplified way, the complexity of interactions underlying disease activity. Using this model, we have been able to fit clinical urine biomarkers data from individual patients and estimate patient-specific parameters to reproduce disease dynamics, and to better understand disease mechanisms. Furthermore, our simulations suggest that the model can be used to evaluate therapeutic strategies for individual patients, or a group of patients that share similar data patterns.
We show that effective combination of clinical data and physiologically based mathematical modeling may provide a basis for more comprehensive modeling and improved clinical care for LN patients.
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a severe and frequent manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Early detection of initial renal manifestations and relapses during follow-up is pivotal to prevent loss of renal function. Apart from renal biopsies, current urinary and serological diagnostic tests fail to accurately demonstrate the presence of active LN. Previously, we demonstrated that effector memory T-cells (CD45RO+CCR7-;TEM) migrate into the urine during active LN. The objective of this study was to assess the diagnostic value of urinary T-cells in comparison with traditional markers of active LN.
T-cells in the urine during active LN and remission were investigated. Twenty-two, in most cases biopsy-proven, active LN patients and 24 SLE patients without active LN were enrolled and serial measurements were performed in 16 patients.
Analysis of the urinary sediment in active renal disease showed an increased number of CD8+ T-cells and absence of these cells during remission. Enumerating T-cell counts in LN patients with a history of renal involvement was a superior marker of active LN in comparison to traditional markers, such as proteinuria and s-creatinine.
In conclusion, urinary T-cells, in particular CD8+ T cells, are a promising marker to assess renal activity in LN patients, in particular in those with prior renal involvement.
Renal involvement in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus in the form of severe lupus nephritis is associated with a significant burden of morbidity and mortality. Conventional laboratory biomarkers in current use have not been very successful in anticipating disease flares, predicting renal histology, or decreasing unwanted outcomes. Since early treatment is associated with improved clinical results, it is thus essential to identify new biomarkers with substantial predictive power to reduce the serious sequelae of this difficult to control lupus manifestation. Indeed, considerable efforts and progress have been made over the last few years in the search for novel biomarkers. Since urinary biomarkers are more easily obtainable with much less risk to the patient than repeat renal biopsies, and these may more accurately discern between renal disease and other organ manifestations than their serum counterparts, there has been tremendous interest in studying new candidate urine biomarkers. Below, we review several promising urinary biomarkers under investigation, including total proteinuria and microalbuminuria, urinary proteomic signatures, and the individual inflammatory mediators interleukin-6, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, CXCL16, IP-10, and tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis.
Biomarkers; Lupus nephritis; Urinary biomarkers; Proteomics; TWEAK; SLE
To evaluate serum anti-C1q antibodies as a biomarker of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) flare and as a proposed noninvasive alternative to renal biopsy which is still the “gold standard” to determine renal activity in SLE.
Serum anti-C1q antibodies were measured in our patients (all were females), they were followed at the nephrology and pediatric nephrology units at the Faculties of Medicine of Cairo University and Misr University for science and technology (MUST). Our study included 120 patients in the pediatric and adolescent age group and they were categorized into three groups with (mean ± SD of 16.7 ± 3, 16.1 ± 2, 15.9 ± 3) respectively: Group 1 including 40 patients with SLE and active lupus nephritis; Group 2 including 40 patients with SLE and without active lupus nephritis, but with some extra renal activity mainly arthritis; and Group 3 including 40 healthy subjects.
Anti-C1q antibodies were found to be significantly higher in patients with active lupus nephritis than those without active nephritis than control individuals with a median (range) of [27.5 (14 – 83), 9 (2.5 – 30), 7 (2 – 13)] respectively. In those with active lupus nephritis, anti-C1q was found to correlate significantly with other parameters assessing lupus nephritis activity like C3 (r = -0.33, p < 0.04), C4 (r = -0.32, p < 0.044), daily urinary protein excretion (r = 0.32, p < 0.036), renal SLEDAI (r = 0.64, p < 0.001), and activity index (r = 0.71, p < 0.001).
Anti-C1q antibodies can be used as a considerable marker for LN activity in that age group with 97.5% sensitivity and 65% specificity with the cutoff level 12 U/l. These levels are clearly higher than those for traditional markers of disease activity such as C3/C4 consumption and anti-dsDNA.
anti-C1q antibodies; anti-dsDNA; C3; C4; ELISA; juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus; lupus nephritis; renal SLEDAI; urinary proteins
Objectives. Clinical and laboratory markers in current use have limited specificity and sensitivity for predicting the development of renal disease in lupus patients. In this longitudinal study, we investigated whether urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (uNGAL) predicts active nephritis and renal flares in lupus patients with and without a history of biopsy-proven lupus nephritis.
Methods. Renal disease activity and flare status was determined by SLEDAI and BILAG scores. Random effects models were used to determine whether uNGAL was a significant predictor for renal disease activity in SLE patients, and for renal flares in patients with established nephritis. To assess the predictive performance of uNGAL, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were constructed using the previous visit’s uNGAL level. These curves were then compared with curves constructed with currently used biomarkers. Cut-offs determined by ROC curves were tested in an independent validation cohort.
Results. uNGAL was found to be a significant predictor of renal disease activity in all SLE patients, and a significant predictor for flare in patients with a history of biopsy-proven nephritis, in multivariate models adjusting for age, race, sex and anti-double-stranded (ds)DNA antibody titres. As a predictor of renal flare in patients with biopsy-proven nephritis, uNGAL outperformed anti-dsDNA antibody titres. These results were confirmed in an independent validation cohort.
Conclusions. uNGAL predicts renal flare in patients with a history of biopsy-proven nephritis with high sensitivity and specificity. Furthermore, uNGAL is a more sensitive and specific forecaster of renal flare in patients with a history of lupus nephritis than anti-dsDNA antibody titres.
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Lupus nephritis; Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index; British Isles Lupus Assessment Group; Biomarkers
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) predominantly affects women in their reproductive years. Renal disease (glomerulonephritis) is one of the most frequent and serious manifestations of SLE. Of the various histological types of lupus glomerulonephritis, diffuse proliferative nephritis carries the worst prognosis. Combined with high-dose prednisone, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) has emerged as a first-line immunosuppressive treatment, although data regarding the efficacy of MMF on the long-term preservation of renal function are forthcoming. Cyclophosphamide is reserved for more severe forms of lupus nephritis, such as crescentic glomerulonephritis with rapidly deteriorating renal function, patients with significant renal function impairment at presentation, and refractory renal disease. Evidence for the calcineurin inhibitors in the treatment of lupus nephritis is weaker, and it concerns patients who are intolerant or recalcitrant to other agents. While further controlled trials are mandatory, B cell modulation therapies, such as rituximab, belimumab and epratuzumab are confined to refractory disease. Non-immunosuppressive measures, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, vigorous blood pressure control, prevention and treatment of hyperlipidemia and osteoporosis, are equally important.
lupus; nephritis; nephropathy; glomerulonephritis; treatment; therapy; women
Long-term immunosuppressive treatment does not efficiently prevent relapses of lupus nephritis (LN). This investigator-initiated randomised trial tested whether mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) was superior to azathioprine (AZA) as maintenance treatment.
A total of 105 patients with lupus with proliferative LN were included. All received three daily intravenous pulses of 750 mg methylprednisolone, followed by oral glucocorticoids and six fortnightly cyclophosphamide intravenous pulses of 500 mg. Based on randomisation performed at baseline, AZA (target dose: 2 mg/kg/day) or MMF (target dose: 2 g/day) was given at week 12. Analyses were by intent to treat. Time to renal flare was the primary end point. Mean (SD) follow-up of the intent-to-treat population was 48 (14) months.
The baseline clinical, biological and pathological characteristics of patients allocated to AZA or MMF did not differ. Renal flares were observed in 13 (25%) AZA-treated and 10 (19%) MMF-treated patients. Time to renal flare, to severe systemic flare, to benign flare and to renal remission did not statistically differ. Over a 3-year period, 24 h proteinuria, serum creatinine, serum albumin, serum C3, haemoglobin and global disease activity scores improved similarly in both groups. Doubling of serum creatinine occurred in four AZA-treated and three MMF-treated patients. Adverse events did not differ between the groups except for haematological cytopenias, which were statistically more frequent in the AZA group (p=0.03) but led only one patient to drop out.
Fewer renal flares were observed in patients receiving MMF but the difference did not reach statistical significance.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a chronic autoimmune disease, and kidney involvement with SLE, a.k.a. lupus nephritis (LN), is a frequent and severe complication of SLE that increases patient morbidity and mortality. About 50% of patients with SLE encounter renal abnormalities which, if left untreated, can lead to end-stage renal disease. Kidney biopsy is considered the criterion standard for diagnosis and staging of LN using the International Society of Nephrology/Renal Pathology Society (ISN/RPS) classification, which was developed to help predict renal outcomes and assist with medical decision-making. However, kidney biopsy-based classification of LN is highly invasive and impractical for real-time monitoring of LN status. Here, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy-based metabolic profiling was used to identify urinary metabolites that discriminated between proliferative and pure membranous LN as defined by the ISN/RPS classification, and between LN and primary focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).
Metabolic profiling was conducted using urine samples of patients with proliferative LN without membranous features (Class III/IV; n = 7) or pure membranous LN (Class V; n = 7). Patients with primary FSGS and proteinuria (n = 10) served as disease controls. For each patient, demographic information and clinical data was obtained and a random urine sample collected to measure NMR spectra. Data and sample collection for patients with LN occurred around the time of kidney biopsy. Metabolic profiling analysis was done by visual inspection and principal component analysis.
Urinary citrate levels were 8-fold lower in Class V LN compared to Class III/IV patients, who had normal levels of urinary citrate (P < 0.05). Class III/IV LN patients had > 10-fold lower levels of urinary taurine compared to Class V patients, who had mostly normal levels (P < 0.01). Class V LN patients had normal urinary hippurate levels compared to FSGS patients, who completely lacked urinary hippurate (P < 0.001).
This pilot study indicated differences in urinary metabolites between proliferative LN and pure membranous LN patients, and between LN and FSGS patients. If confirmed in larger studies, these urine metabolites may serve as biomarkers to help discriminate between different classes of LN, and between LN and FSGS.
To identify potential biomarkers in immune-mediated nephritis, urine from mice subjected to an augmented passive model of anti-glomerular basement membrane-induced experimental nephritis was resolved using 2D-gels. The urinary proteome in these diseased mice was comprised of at least 71 different proteins. Using orthogonal assays, several of these molecules, including serum amyloid P, prostaglandin D synthase, superoxide dismutase, renin and total protease were validated to be elevated in the urine and kidneys of mice during anti-GBM disease, as well as in mice with spontaneously arising lupus nephritis. Among these, urinary protease was the only marker that appeared to be exclusively renal in origin, whereas the others were partly serum-derived. Longitudinal studies in murine lupus demonstrated that total urinary protease had better predictive value for histologically active nephritis (r = 0.78), compared to proteinuria (r = −0.04) or azotemia (r = 0.28), or the other markers examined, while urine SAP emerged as the single most predictive marker of histological GN. Collectively, these studies uncover total urinary protease, PGDS, SAP and SOD as novel biomarkers of anti-GBM disease and lupus nephritis, with stronger correlation to renal disease compared to currently employed biomarkers. These findings could have important diagnostic and prognostic ramifications in the management of these renal diatheses.
Nephritis; Lupus; Proteomics; Biomarkers; Urine
Cross-sectional studies have shown that low vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)) is associated with increased systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) activity. This study is the first to assess the temporal relationship between 25(OH)D levels and onset of SLE flare. This assessment was made possible because of the specimen bank and database of the Ohio SLE Study (OSS), a longitudinal study of frequently relapsing SLE that involved regular bimonthly patient follow-up. We identified for this study 82 flares from 46 patients that were separated by at least 8 months from previous flares. Serum 25(OH)D levels were measured at 4 and 2 months before flare, and at the time of flare (a flare interval). We found that for flares occurring during low daylight months (LDM, Oct-Mar), 25(OH)D levels were decreased at the time of flare, but only in non-African American (non-AA) patients (32% decrease at flare, compared to 4 months prior, p < 0.001). To control for seasonal effects, we also measured 25(OH)D levels in the LDM “no-flare” intervals, which were intervals that matched to the same calendar months of the patients’ LDM flare intervals, but that didn’t end in flare (n = 24). For these matches, a significant decrease occurred in 25(OH)D levels during the flare intervals (18.1% decrease, p < 0.001), but not during the matching no-flare intervals (6.2% decrease, p = 0.411). For flares occurring during high daylight months (HDM), 25(OH)D levels changed only in non-AA patients, increasing slightly (5.6%, p = 0.010). Analysis of flare rates for the entire OSS cohort (n = 201 flares) revealed a tendency for higher flare rates during LDM compared to HDM, but again only in non-AA patients (p = 0.060). Flare rates were lower during HDM for non-AA patients compared to AA patients (p = 0.028). In conclusion, in non-AA SLE patients, unusually large declines in 25(OH)D during LDM may be mechanistically related to SLE flare, whereas relatively high 25(OH)D levels during HDM may protect against flare.
Vitamin D; systemic lupus erythematosus; disease flare
Samples of protein from the urine of 23 patients with lupus nephropathy and 15 patients with proteinuria who did not have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were studied for the presence of cytokines, soluble interleukin 2 receptors (sIL-2R), and free light chain immunoglobulins. The patients with lupus nephropathy were divided into two groups with active (nephritis) and inactive inflammation (nephrosis) based on the results of the analysis of urine samples and renal histology. The crude urine proteins (5 mg/ml) after precipitation by 80% ammonium sulphate from 14 patients with lupus nephritis contained higher concentrations of sIL-2R (4.88 (SEM 1.27 ng/ml) than those from nine patients with nephrosis (1.11 (0.52) ng/ml) or 15 patients without SLE (1.31 (0.87) ng/ml). The concentration of sIL-2R in protein from urine samples was not correlated with the concentration in plasma and was inversely correlated with the excretion of protein in urine over 24 hours in patients with SLE. It is suggested that, in addition to leakage from the circulation, the local production of sIL-2R by inflamed kidneys is possible. The crude proteins in urine were further fractionated by gel filtration on Sephacryl S-200. Arbitrarily, four fractions could be obtained from urine from patients with SLE but only three fractions were found in the urine of patients without SLE. Fraction IV derived from patients with nephritis or nephrosis augmented the pokeweed mitogen induced [3H]thymidine uptake of mononuclear cells. In addition, the positive rates of free kappa (kappa) (35.7%) and lambda (lambda) (42.9%) chains in proteins in urine from nephritic patients were higher than those in the other two groups. These results suggest that the severity of inflammation in the kidneys of patients with lupus can be reflected by the increased excretion of sIL-2R, free light chain immunoglobulins, and cytokine-like molecules in urine.
Lupus nephritis is one of the most serious manifestations and one of the strongest predictors of a poor outcome in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Recent evidence implicated a potential role of interlukin-17 (IL-17) in the pathogenesis of lupus nephritis. However, the correlation between IL-17 expression level and the severity of lupus nephritis still remains incompletely understood. In this study, we found that serum IL-17 expression level was associated with the severity of lupus nephritis, which was evaluated by histopathology of kidney sections and urine protein. Of note, we showed that enforced expression of IL-17 using adenovirus construct that expresses IL-17 could enhance the severity of lupus nephritis, while blockade of IL-17 using neutralizing antibody resulted in decreased severity of lupus nephritis. Consistently, we observed an impaired induction of lupus nephritis in IL-17-deficient mice. Further, we revealed that IL-17 expression level was associated with immune complex deposition and complement activation in kidney. Of interest, we found that IL-17 was crucial for increasing anti-double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) antibody production in SLE. Our results suggested that IL-17 expression level positively correlated with the severity of lupus nephritis, at least in part, because of its contribution to anti-dsDNA antibody production. These findings provided a novel mechanism for how IL-17 expression level correlated with disease pathogenesis and suggested that management of IL-17 expression level was a potential and promising approach for treatment of lupus nephritis.
Reactive intermediate production is an essential component of the innate immune response that is induced during disease activity in murine lupus. This study was undertaken to determine whether a marker of systemic nitric oxide (NO) production correlates with prospectively studied disease activity in human systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis patients.
Eighty-three SLE patients and 40 control subjects were studied longitudinally. The SLE group included 23 patients with lupus nephritis documented by renal biopsy and 26 with a history of lupus nephritis. During each visit, following a 24-hour low-nitrate diet, traditional markers of disease activity and damage were determined. Serum nitrate plus nitrite (NOx) levels were determined by chemiluminescence detection.
NOx levels were higher in SLE patients than in controls during the first visit. In univariate longitudinal analyses, NOx levels were associated with SLE Disease Activity Index scores. In multivariate analyses, NOx levels were associated with serum levels of C3 and creatinine and the urinary protein:creatinine ratio. Among patients with lupus nephritis, those with proliferative lesions had higher NOx levels, and higher NOx levels were associated with accumulation of renal damage and lack of response to therapy.
This is the first study to prospectively demonstrate longitudinal associations between serum NOx levels and markers of SLE and lupus nephritis disease activity. The more pronounced association with proliferative lupus nephritis and with longitudinal response to lupus nephritis therapy provides a rationale for the study of reactive intermediates as biomarkers of disease activity and therapeutic targets in proliferative lupus nephritis.
Lupus nephritis (LN) is among the main determinants of poor prognosis in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The objective of this study was to 1) isolate and identify proteins contained in the LN urinary protein signature (PS) of children with SLE; 2) assess the usefulness of the PS-proteins for detecting activity of LN over time. Using surface-enhanced or matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry, the proteins contained in the LN urinary PS were identified. They were transferrin (Tf), ceruloplasmin (Cp), α1-acid-glycoprotein (AGP), lipocalin-type prostaglandin-D synthetase (L-PGDS), albumin and albumin-related fragments. Serial plasma and urine samples were analyzed using immunonephelometry or ELISA in 98 children with SLE (78% African-American) and 30 controls with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. All urinary PS-proteins were significantly higher with active versus inactive LN or in patients without LN (all p<0.005), and their combined area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.85. As early as 3 months before a clinical diagnosis of worsening LN, significant increases of urinary Tf, AGP (both p < 0.0001) and L-PGDS (p < 0.01) occurred, indicating that these PS-proteins are biomarkers of LN activity and may help anticipate the future course of LN.
Serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) seldom reflect disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We have previously shown that autoantibodies against neo-epitopes of CRP often occur in SLE, but that this does not explain the modest CRP response seen in flares. However, we have repeatedly found that anti-CRP levels parallel lupus disease activity, with highest levels in patients with renal involvement; thus, we aimed to study anti-CRP in a material of well-characterized lupus nephritis patients.
Thirty-eight patients with lupus nephritis were included. Treatment with corticosteroids combined with cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate mofetil or rituximab was started after baseline kidney biopsy. A second biopsy was taken after ≥ 6 months. Serum creatinine, cystatin C, complement, anti-dsDNA, anti-CRP and urinalysis were done on both occasions. Biopsies were evaluated regarding World Health Organisation (WHO) class and indices of activity and chronicity. Renal disease activity was estimated using the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) index.
At baseline, 34/38 patients had renal BILAG-A; 4/38 had BILAG-B. Baseline biopsies showed WHO class III (n = 8), IV (n = 19), III to IV/V (n = 3) or V (n = 8) nephritis. Seventeen out of 38 patients were anti-CRP-positive at baseline, and six at follow-up. Overall, anti-CRP levels had dropped at follow-up (P < 0.0001) and anti-CRP levels correlated with renal BILAG (r = 0.29, P = 0.012). A positive anti-CRP test at baseline was superior to anti-dsDNA and C1q in predicting poor response to therapy as judged by renal BILAG. Baseline anti-CRP levels correlated with renal biopsy activity (r = 0.33, P = 0.045), but not with chronicity index. Anti-CRP levels were positively correlated with anti-dsDNA (fluorescence-enhanced immunoassay: r = 0.63, P = 0.0003; Crithidia luciliae immunofluorescence microscopy test: r = 0.44, P < 0.0001), and inversely with C3 (r = 0.35, P = 0.007) and C4 (r = 0.29, P = 0.02), but not with C1q (r = 0.14, P = 0.24). No associations with urinary components, creatinine, cystatin C or the glomerular filtration rate were found.
In the present study, we demonstrate a statistically significant correlation between anti-CRP levels and histopathological activity in lupus nephritis, whereas a baseline positive anti-CRP test predicted poor response to therapy. Our data also confirm previous findings of associations between anti-CRP and disease activity. This indicates that anti-CRP could be helpful to assess disease activity and response to therapy in SLE nephritis, and highlights the hypothesis of a pathogenetic role for anti-CRP antibodies in lupus nephritis.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic multisystem autoimmune disease with frequent flares. Our aim was to evaluate the beta 2-microglobulin/cystatin C (β2M/CysC) index versus other markers as a predictor factor for assessment of SLE reactivation.
We prospectively analyzed 42 patients with lupus nephritis. Disease activity was classified using SLEDAI-2K and BILAG. Routine renal function and laboratory markers of SLE activity were performed, as well as serum β2M (Sβ2M)/serum CysC (SCysC) and Sβ2M/serum creatinine (SCreat) indexes determinations.
The 42 enrolled patients had a mean age of 37.7 ± 13.1 years, 88% were female and 67% Caucasians; mean estimated glomerular filtration rate was 61.9 ± 20.0 ml/min/1.73 m2. There was a strong correlation between SCreat versus SCysC (r = 0.887), SCreat versus Sβ2M (r = 0.865), and SCysC versus Sβ2M (r = 0.880). Multivariate analysis showed that the Sβ2M/SCreat index is a prognostic factor predicting active lupus nephritis.
As SCysC is a good marker of renal function, it would be expected that the Sβ2M/SCysC index could be a better indicator of renal activity than Sβ2M/SCreat, but in the present study it did not add relevant clinical information in the assessment of renal activity in SLE.
Beta 2-microglobulin; Cystatin C; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Disease activity; Relapse; Biomarker
BLyS and APRIL are cytokines from the tumor necrosis factor family which play an important role in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Previous works suggested an association between both molecules and SLE disease activity although their correlation with lupus nephritis is not known. We therefore assessed serum BLyS and APRIL in active lupus nephritis patients.
Serum samples from active lupus nephritis and at 6 months post-treatment were obtained. Serum levels of BLyS and APRIL (n = 47) as well as renal mRNA expression were measured. Serum levels of both molecules and clinical data (n = 27) were available at 6 months follow-up. All biopsy-proven lupus nephritis patients were treated with similar immunosuppressive drugs.
Serum levels of APRIL were associated with proteinuria (Rs = 0.44, P value < 0.01) and degree of histological activity (Rs = 0.34; P value < 0.05) whereas BLyS levels were associated with complement levels (Rs = 0.46; P value < 0.01) and dosage of immunosuppressant. Interestingly, serum APRIL as well as its intrarenal mRNA levels were associated with resistance to treatment. From the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, high levels (> 4 ng/mL) of serum APRIL predicted treatment failure with a positive predictive value of 93 percent.
APRIL could be a potential biomarker for predicting difficult-to-treat cases of lupus nephritis.
Objective(s): Lupus nephritis (LN) is the main cause of mortality and disability in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. Therefore, utilizing a reliable and non-invasive method for serial measurements of renal function seems to be necessary. The aim of this study was to evaluate the role of urinary lipocalin-2 as a biomarker of renal involvement in SLE patients.
Materials and Methods: Fifty two lupus patients in this cross sectional study were divided into two groups: patients with and without nephritis. For each group, urinary lipocalin-2, values were measured and reported according to urinary lipocalin-2/creatinine. Urinary lipocalin-2/creatinine sensitivity and specificity for identifying biopsy-proven nephritis were calculated, and a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was constructed.
: The mean urinary lipocalin-2/creatinine value of patients with biopsy-proven LN was 2.99 ± 4.1 ng/mg, and in non-LN patients was 1.16 ± 1.27 ng/mg. Urinary lipocalin-2/creatinine levels in LN patients were significantly higher than those in non-LN patients (P- Value = 0.03). In LN patients, urinary lipocalin-2/creatinine significantly correlated with proteinuria (r = 0.68; P = 0.0001). Using a cutoff value of 0.896 ng/mg, urinary lipocalin-2/creatinine had a sensitivity of 89.7% and a specificity of 39.1% for identifying SLE patients with biopsy-proven LN. The area under the ROC curve was 0.664 ± 0.076 with a 95% confidence interval of 0.52-0.81 (P=0.04). Analysis of variance showed that urinary lipocalin-2/creatinine is the same in different classes of LN (P-value=0.28).
Conclusion: An important clinical conclusion is that measurement of urinary Lipocalin-2 may result in earlier diagnosis of LN.
Lupus; Nephritis; SLE; Urinary Lipocalin- 2
Glomerulonephritis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Deposition of autoantibodies in the glomeruli plays a key role in the development of lupus nephritis (LN). Different groups have proposed that either anti-nucleosome antibodies or antibodies that bind the intrinsic renal antigen, α-actinin, are central to the pathogenesis of LN. These theories have been based mainly on cross-sectional studies in patients and on experiments in animal models. No previous longitudinal studies have compared the relationships between levels of these antibodies and markers of renal function. We assessed how well anti-α-actinin, anti-nucleosome and anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies reflected renal outcome measures in patients with new-onset LN followed for up to 2 years.
Renal disease activity was monitored by measuring urine protein/creatinine ratio (PCR), serum albumin and a composite outcome of renal remission. At each time point, anti-nucleosome and anti-α-actinin antibodies were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. High-avidity anti-dsDNA antibodies were measured using the Farrzyme assay. We analysed relationships between levels of the three antibodies and between antibody levels and renal outcome measures over time.
Levels of anti-nucleosome and anti-dsDNA were positively correlated with each other (r = 0.6, P = 0.0001) but neither correlated with anti-α-actinin level. At baseline, mean anti-nucleosome levels were higher in patients with LN than in healthy controls (0.32 versus 0.01, P < 0.001). The same was true for anti-dsDNA antibodies (0.50 versus 0.07, P < 0.001) but not for anti-α-actinin (0.33 versus 0.29). Over the follow-up period, anti-nucleosome and anti-dsDNA levels associated positively with urine PCR (P = 0.041 and 0.051, respectively) and negatively with serum albumin (P = 0.027 and 0.032, respectively). Both anti-nucleosome and anti-dsDNA levels were significantly lower during renal remission than when renal disease was active (P = 0.002 and 0.003, respectively). However, there was no relationship between anti-α-actinin levels and urine PCR, serum albumin or remission status.
This prospective longitudinal clinical study is the first to compare levels of anti-nucleosome, anti-dsDNA and anti-α-actinin antibodies in the same patients with SLE. Our results support the concept that, in the majority of patients, anti-nucleosome antibodies play a major role in pathogenesis of LN, in contrast to anti-α-actinin antibodies.
Recent advances in the management of lupus nephritis, together with earlier renal biopsy and selective use of aggressive immunosuppressive therapy, have contributed to a favorable outcome in children and adolescents with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Nevertheless, we believe that a more effective and less toxic treatment is needed to attain an optimal control of the activity of lupus nephritis. Recent published papers and our experiences regarding treatment of young patients with lupus nephritis using calcineurin inhibitors are reviewed. Although it has been reported that intermittent monthly pulses of intravenous cyclophosphamide (IVCY) are effective for preserving renal function in adult patients, CPA is a potent immunosuppressive agent that induces severe toxicity, including myelo- and gonadal toxicity, and increases the risk of secondary malignancy. Thus, treatment for controlling lupus nephritis activity, especially in children and adolescents, remains challenging. Cyclosporine A (CsA) and tacrolimus (Tac) are T-cell-specific calcineurin inhibitors that prevent the activation of helper T cells, thereby inhibiting the transcription of the early activation genes of interleukin (IL)-2 and suppressing T cell-induced activation of tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-1β and IL-6. Therefore, both drugs, which we believe may be less cytotoxic, are attractive therapeutic options for young patients with lupus nephritis. Recently, a multidrug regimen of prednisolone (PDN), Tac, and mycophenolate mofetile (MMF) has been found effective and relatively safe in adult lupus nephritis. Since the mechanisms of action of MMF and Tac are probably complementary, multidrug therapy for lupus nephritis may be useful. We propose as an alternative to IVCY, a multidrug therapy with mizoribine, which acts very similarly to MMF, and Tac, which has a different mode of action, combined with PDN for pediatric-onset lupus nephritis. We also believe that a multidrug therapy including CsA and Tac may be an attractive option for young patients with SLE and lupus nephritis
Calcineurin inhibitor; Cyclosporine A; Lupus nephritis; Multidrug therapy; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Tacrolimus
Vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), an adhesion molecule, is involved in the progression of glomerular and tubulointerstitial injury. Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), a member of the lipocalin superfamily, has been shown to rise in both acute and chronic kidney damage. Both VCAM-1 and NGAL have been found at high levels in the urine of patients with active lupus nephritis. We investigated both as potential biomarkers for lupus nephritis.
VCAM-1 and NGAL were measured by ELISA during 1 to 8 clinic visits in 107 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; 91% women, 51% black, 36% white, 4% Asian, 4% Hispanic, and 5% others) for a total of 190 visits. Patients’ mean age was 41 years. We analyzed the relationship between these potential urine biomarkers and the urine protein/creatinine ratio (urine Pr/Cr), the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) renal activity score, SLE Disease Activity Index renal descriptors, and other clinical variables.
VCAM-1 levels were strongly associated with the physician’s global estimate of disease activity (p = 0.0002), the renal visual analog scale (p < 0.0001), the urine Pr/Cr (p < 0.0001), and SLICC renal activity score (p < 0.0001). VCAM-1 levels were also associated with a urine Pr/Cr ≥ 0.5 (p < 0.0001). NGAL was not associated with any measure of disease activity or with lupus serologies.
Urine VCAM-1 had a strong association with measures of disease activity, including multiple renal activity descriptors. In contrast to previous SLE studies, NGAL failed to show any association with lupus nephritis.
SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS; VASCULAR CELL ADHESION MOLECULE; NEUTROPHIL GELATINASE-ASSOCIATED LIPOCALIN; LIPOCALIN; LUPUS NEPHRITIS
Antrodia camphorata is used in folk medicine for the treatment of inflammation syndromes and liver-related diseases in Taiwan. The goal of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the mycelial extract of A. camphorata (ACE) for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in SLE-prone NZB/W F1 mice. After antibodies against double-stranded DNA appeared in NZB/W mice, the mice were orally administered varying dosages of ACE (100, 200 and 400 mg kg−1) for 5 consecutive days per week for 12 weeks via gavage. To assess the efficacy of ACE, we measured SLE-associated biochemical and histopathological biomarkers levels of blood urine nitrogen (BUN), blood creatinine, urine protein and urine creatinine and thickness of the kidney glomerular basement membrane by staining with periodic acid-Schiff. Antroquinonol, an active component of ACE, was investigated for anti-inflammation activity in lipopolysaccharide-induced RAW 267.4 cells. ACE at 400 mg kg−1 significantly suppressed urine protein and serum BUN levels and decreased the thickness of the kidney glomerular basement membrane. Antroquinonol significantly inhibited the production of tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β by 75 and 78%, respectively. In conclusion, ACE reduced urine protein and creatinine levels and suppressed the thickening of the kidney glomerular basement membrane, suggesting that ACE protects the kidney from immunological damage resulting from autoimmune disease.
TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) has been implicated as a mediator of chronic inflammatory processes via prolonged activation of the NF-κB pathway in several tissues, including the kidney. Evidence for the importance of TWEAK in the pathogenesis of lupus nephritis (LN) has been recently introduced. Thus, TWEAK levels may serve as an indication of LN presence and activity.
Multicenter cohorts of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients and controls were recruited for cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of urinary TWEAK (uTWEAK) and/or serum TWEAK (sTWEAK) levels as potential biomarkers of LN. The performance of TWEAK as a biomarker for nephritis was compared with routinely used laboratory tests in lupus patients, including anti-double stranded DNA antibodies and levels of C3 and C4.
uTWEAK levels were significantly higher in LN patients than in non-LN SLE patients and other disease control groups (P = 0.039). Furthermore, uTWEAK was better at distinguishing between LN and non-LN SLE patients than anti-DNA antibodies and complement levels, while high uTWEAK levels predicted LN in SLE patients with an odds ratio of 7.36 (95% confidence interval = 2.25 to 24.07; P = 0.001). uTWEAK levels peaked during LN flares, and were significantly higher during the flare than at 4 and 6 months prior to or following the flare event. A linear mixed-effects model showed a significant association between uTWEAK levels in SLE patients and their disease activity over time (P = 0.008). sTWEAK levels, however, were not found to correlate with the presence of LN or the degree of nephritis activity.
High uTWEAK levels are indicative of LN, as opposed to non-LN SLE and other healthy and disease control populations, and reflect renal disease activity in longitudinal follow-up. Thus, our study further supports a role for TWEAK in the pathogenesis of LN, and provides strong evidence for uTWEAK as a candidate clinical biomarker for LN.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production and organ damage. Lupus nephritis (LN) is one of the most severe manifestations of SLE. Multiple studies reported associations between renal diseases and variants in the non-muscle myosin heavy chain 9 (MYH9) and the neighboring apolipoprotein L 1 (APOL1) genes. We evaluated 167 variants spanning MYH9 for association with LN in a multiethnic sample. The two previously identified risk variants in APOL1 were also tested for association with LN in European-Americans (EAs) (N = 579) and African-Americans (AAs) (N = 407). Multiple peaks of association exceeding a Bonferroni corrected p-value of p < 2.03 × 10−3 were observed between LN and MYH9 in EAs (N=4620), with the most pronounced association at rs2157257 (p = 4.7 × 10−4; odds ratio [OR]=1.205). A modest effect with MYH9 was also detected in Gullah (rs8136069, p = 0.0019, OR = 2.304). No association between LN and MYH9 was found in AAs, Asians, Amerindians or Hispanics. This study provides the first investigation of MYH9 in LN in non-Africans and of APOL1 in LN in any population and presents novel insight into the potential role of MYH9 in LN in EAs.
MYH9; APOL1; lupus nephritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; multiethnic association study