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.
Although renal pathology is highly predictive of the disease course in lupus nephritis, it cannot be performed serially because of its invasive nature and associated morbidity. The goal of this study is to investigate whether urinary levels of CXC ligand 16 (CXCL16), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) or vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) in patients with lupus nephritis are predictive of particular features of renal pathology in renal biopsies obtained on the day of urine procurement.
CXCL16, MCP-1, and VCAM-1 levels were measured in urine samples from 74 lupus nephritis patients and 13 healthy volunteers. Of the patients enrolled, 24 patients had a concomitant kidney biopsy performed at the time of urine collection. In addition, patients with other renal diatheses were also included as controls.
All three molecules were elevated in the urine of systemic lupus erythematosus patients, although VCAM-1 (area under curve = 0.92) and MCP-1 (area under curve = 0.87) were best at distinguishing the systemic lupus erythematosus samples from the healthy controls, and were also most strongly associated with clinical disease severity and active renal disease. For patients in whom concurrent renal biopsies had also been performed, urine VCAM-1 exhibited the strongest association with the renal pathology activity index and glomerulonephritis class IV, although it correlated negatively with the chronicity index. Interestingly, urinary VCAM-1 was also elevated in anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies-associated glomerulonephritis, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and membranous nephropathy but not in minimal-change disease.
Urinary VCAM-1 emerges as a reliable indicator of the activity:chronicity ratios that mark the underlying renal pathology in lupus nephritis. Since VCAM-1 is involved in the acute phase of inflammation when leukocytic infiltration is ongoing, longitudinal studies are warranted to establish whether tracking urine VCAM-1 levels may help monitor clinical and pathological disease activity over time.
Among various lupus renal vascular changes, thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) presented with the most severe clinical manifestations and high mortality. The pathogenesis of TMA in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) was complicated. The aim of this study was to assess clinical manifestations, laboratory characteristics, pathological features and risk factors for clinical outcomes of lupus nephritis patients co-existing with renal TMA in a large cohort in China.
Clinical and renal histopathological data of 148 patients with biopsy-proven lupus nephritis were retrospectively analyzed. Serum complement factor H, A Disintegrin and Metalloprotease with Thrombospondin type I repeats 13 (ADAMTS-13) activity, antiphospholipid antibodies and C4d deposition on renal vessels were further detected and analyzed.
In the 148 patients with lupus nephritis, 36 patients were diagnosed as co-existing with renal TMA based on pathological diagnosis. Among the 36 TMA patients, their clinical diagnoses of renal TMA were as followings: 2 patients combining with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura-hemolytic uremic syndrome, 2 patients combining with anti-phospholipid syndrome, 2 patients with malignant hypertension, 1 patient with scleroderma and the other 29 patients presenting with isolated renal TMA. Compared with the non-renal TMA group, patients with renal TMA had significantly higher urine protein (7.09 ± 4.64 vs. 4.75 ± 3.13 g/24h, P = 0.007) and serum creatinine (159, 86 to 215 vs. 81, 68 to 112 μmol/l, P <0.001), higher scores of total activity indices (AI) (P <0.001), endocapillary hypercellularity (P <0.001), subendothelial hyaline deposits (P = 0.003), interstitial inflammation (P = 0.005), glomerular leukocyte infiltration (P = 0.006), total chronicity indices (CI) (P = 0.033), tubular atrophy (P = 0.004) and interstitial fibrosis (P = 0.018). Patients with renal TMA presented with poorer renal outcome (P = 0.005) compared with the non-TMA group. Renal TMA (hazard ratio (HR): 2.772, 95% confidence interval: 1.009 to 7.617, P = 0.048) was an independent risk factor for renal outcome in patients with lupus nephritis. The renal outcome was poorer for those with both C4d deposition and decreased serum complement factor H in the TMA group (P = 0.007).
There were various causes of renal TMA in lupus nephritis. Complement over-activation via both classical and alternative pathways might play an important role in the pathogenesis of renal TMA in lupus nephritis.
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.
About 50-80% of patients with lupus suffer from lupus nephritis which is one of major causes of morbidity and mortality. Renal pathologists and nephrologists should evaluate the degree of histological damages to establish therapeutic plans for lupus nephritis. In order to standardize definitions, to emphasize clinically relevant lesions, and to improve interobserver reproducibility, the International Society of Nephrology/Renal Pathology Society (ISN/RPS) classification was proposed. Recently, several retrospective validation studies concerning the utility of the ISN/RPS classification, especially among class IV, were performed. In these reports, reproducibility is improved by the definition of diagnostic term, but the outcome related with classification, especially in class IV, is controversial. We performed retrospective analysis of 99 biopsy-proven subjects with lupus nephritis in our facility using the ISN/RPS classification. The class IV-G group tended to exhibit a worse renal outcome, but the difference compared with IV-S was not significant. In a Cox proportional hazards models, Independent histological predictors of poor renal outcome were extracapillary proliferation, glomerular sclerosis and fibrous crescents, while hyaline thrombi and fibrous adhesions were of favorable renal outcome. Both were similarly observed in IV-G and IV-S. The more qualitative categorization by the response to standard treatment may be needed to emphasize clinically relevant lesion related to renal outcome.
ISN/RPS Classification; Lupus; Lupus Nephritis; Outcome
Lupus nephritis (LN) is an immune complex-mediated glomerulonephritis. Proliferative LN (PLN, International Society of Nephrology and Renal Pathology Society (ISN/RPS) classes III and IV)) often leads to renal injury or failure despite traditional induction and maintenance therapy. Successful targeted therapeutic development requires insight into mediators of inflammation in PLN. Superoxide (SO) and its metabolites are mediators of the innate immune response through their ability to mediate reduction-oxidation signaling. Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) modulates inflammatory responses in endothelial cells. We hypothesized that markers of SO production would be increased in active PLN and that SO production would be dependent on the activity of select enzymes in the renal cortex.
Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus were enrolled at the time of renal biopsy for active LN of all classes. Serum collected at baseline was analyzed by HPLC with electrochemical detection for markers of SO production (durable modifications of serum protein Tyr ultimately requiring SO as a substrate). Renal cortex from MRL/MpJ-FASlpr (MRL/lpr) mice with and without functional eNOS was analyzed during active disease for superoxide (SO) production with and without inhibitors of SO producing enzymes.
Serum protein modifications indicative of total SO production were significantly higher in patients with PLN. These markers were increased in association with more active, inflammatory PLN. Mice lacking functional eNOS had 80% higher levels of renal cortical SO during active disease, and inhibitors of nitric oxide synthase and NADPH oxidase reduced these levels by 60% and 77%, respectively.
These studies demonstrate that SO production is unique to active PLN in a NOS and NADPH oxidase-dependent fashion. These findings suggest the emulating or augmenting eNOS activity or inhibiting NADPH oxidase SO production may be targets of therapy in patients with PLN. The markers of SO production used in this study could rationally be used to select SO-modulating therapies and serve as pharmacodynamic indicators for dose titration.
Lupus nephritis; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Nitric oxide; Endothelial nitric oxide synthase; NADPH Oxidase; Proliferative lupus nephritis; Superoxide; Oxidation-reduction; Inflammation
The purpose of this investigation was to assess the correlation of two biomarkers with the occurrence of renal flares in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Urine levels of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) were measured at baseline, and at two and four months in five groups of patients: 25 lupus nephritis patients with active disease (active LN), 10 lupus nephritis patients with SLE in remission (remission LN), 25 patients with clinical active SLE and without nephritis (active NLN), 10 patients without nephritis with SLE in remission (remission NLN) and 10 healthy controls. We used repeated measurement and ANOVA with Duncan's post hoc to analyze the data; the urine level of the two proteins could distinguish the groups based on the existence of lupus nephritis and/or activity of SLE disease. Furthermore we performed receiver operating curve analysis to identify a cutoff point with a good sensitivity and specificity to diagnose lupus nephritis with either one of the urine proteins. Finally the samples from active LN were grouped according to whether they were Class IV or other classes. Baseline urinary MCP-1, but not TGF-β, was significantly different between the classes. Further investigation into the use of these cytokines in a prospective study is needed to determine their capacity as diagnostic tools for renal flares.
Lupus nephritis; monocyte chemotactic protein-1; systemic lupus erythematosus; transforming growth factor beta
Autoantibodies against C1q correlate with lupus nephritis. We compared titers of anti-C1q and anti-dsDNA in 70 systemic lupus erythematosus patients with (n = 15) or without (n = 55) subsequent biopsy-proven lupus nephritis.
The 15 patients with subsequent lupus nephritis had anti-C1q assays during clinical flares (mean Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI), 10.0 ± 4.7; range, 3 to 22) before the diagnosis of lupus nephritis (median, 24 months; range 3 to 192). Among the 55 others, 33 patients had active lupus (mean SLEDAI, 10.3 ± 6.2; range, 4 to 30) without renal disease during follow-up (median 13 years; range 2 to 17 years) and 22 had inactive lupus (mean SLEDAI, 0; range, 0 to 3).
Anti-C1q titers were elevated in 15/15 (100%) patients who subsequently developed nephritis (class IV, n = 14; class V, n = 1) and in 15/33 (45%) patients without renal disease (P < 0.001). The median anti-C1q titer differed significantly between the groups (P = 0.003). Anti-C1q titers were persistently positive at the time of glomerulonephritis diagnosis in 70% (7/10) of patients, with no difference in titers compared with pre-nephritis values (median, 147 U/ml; interquartile range (IQR), 69 to 213 versus 116 U/ml; 50 to 284, respectively). Titers decreased after 6 months' treatment with immunosuppressive drugs and corticosteroids (median, 76 U/ml; IQR, 33 to 106) but remained above normal in 6/8 (75%) patients. Anti-dsDNA antibodies were increased in 14/15 (93.3%) patients with subsequent nephritis and 24/33 (72.7%) patients without nephritis (P = ns). Anti-C1q did not correlate with anti-dsDNA or the SLEDAI in either group.
Anti-C1q elevation had 50% positive predictive value (15/30) and 100% (18/18) negative predictive value for subsequent class IV or V lupus nephritis.
The prognosis of severe lupus nephritis (LN) is very different among individual patients. None of the current biomarkers can be used to predict the development of refractory LN. Because kidney histology is the gold standard for diagnosing LN, the authors hypothesize that molecular signatures detected in kidney biopsy tissue may have predictive value in determining the therapeutic response. Sixty-seven patients with biopsy-proven severely active LN by International Society of Nephrology/Renal Pathology Society (ISN/RPS) classification III/IV were recruited. Twenty-three kidney tissue samples were used for RNA microarray analysis, while the remaining 44 samples were used for validation by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) gene expression analysis. From hundreds of differential gene expressions in refractory LN, 12 candidates were selected for validation based on gene expression levels as well as relevant functions. The candidate biomarkers were members of the innate immune response molecules, adhesion molecules, calcium-binding receptors, and paracellular tight junction proteins. S100A8, ANXA13, CLDN19 and FAM46B were identified as the best kidney biomarkers for refractory LN, and COL8A1 was identified as the best marker for early loss of kidney function. These new molecular markers can be used to predict refractory LN and may eventually lead to novel molecular targets for therapy.
lupus nephritis; biomarker; microarrays; gene expression; chronic kidney disease
Type I interferons are pivotal in the activation of autoimmune response in systemic lupus erythematous. However, the pathogenic role of interferon-alpha in patients affected by lupus nephritis remains uncertain. The aim of our study was to investigate the presence of a specific interferon signature in lupus nephritis and the effects of interferon-alpha at renal level.
We performed immunohistochemical analysis for MXA-protein and in situ hybridization to detect interferon-alpha signature and production in human lupus nephritis. Through microarray studies, we analyzed the gene expression profile of renal tubular epithelial cells, stimulated with interferon-alpha. We validated microarray results through real-time polymerase chain reaction, flow cytometry on renal tubular epithelial cells, and through immunohistochemical analysis and confocal microscopy on renal biopsies.
Type I interferons signature was characterized by MXA-specific staining in renal tubular epithelial cells; in addition, in situ hybridization showed that renal tubular epithelial cells were the major producers of interferon-alpha, indicating a potential autocrine effect. Whole-genome expression profile showed interferon-alpha induced up-regulation of genes involved in innate immunity, protein ubiquitination and switching to immunoproteasome. In accordance with the in vitro data, class IV lupus nephritis showed up-regulation of the immunoproteasome subunit LMP7 in tubular epithelial cells associated with type I interferon signature.
Our data indicate that type I interferons might have a pathogenic role in lupus nephritis characterized by an autocrine effect of interferon-alpha on renal tubular epithelial cells. Therefore we hypothesize that inhibition of type I interferons might represent a therapeutic target to prevent tubulo-interstitial damage in patients with lupus nephritis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0588-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Lupus nephritis (LN) of juvenile onset often has severe disease presentation. Despite aggressive induction therapy, up to 20% of patients with LN are resistant to initial therapy and up to 44% suffer a renal relapse. However, there is no consensus on an appropriate therapeutic regimen for refractory LN. We report a 13-year-old girl with recurrent LN who was not taking her medications. At age of 11 years, she was diagnosed with LN classified as International Society of Nephrology/Renal Pathology Society (ISN/RPS) class IV G (A) + V. She was treated with prednisolone and MMF after nine methylprednisolone pulses. Nineteen months later, she was admitted to the hospital with generalized edema. Her symptoms were nephrotic syndrome and acute renal dysfunction. She received three methylprednisolone pulses for 3 days, followed by oral prednisolone and MMF. Twenty-seven days after the three methylprednisolone pulses, her acute renal dysfunction was improved, but the nephrotic syndrome was not improved. A second biopsy showed diffuse lupus nephritis classified as the predominant finding of ISN/RPS class V. We added tacrolimus to the MMF. Four months after adding tacrolimus, the nephrotic syndrome improved. We conclude that adding tacrolimus to the treatment regimen for LN resistant to MMF is effective.
Pediatric systemic lupus erythematosus (pSLE) patients often initially present with more active and severe disease than adults, including a higher frequency of lupus nephritis. Specific autoantibodies, including anti-C1q, anti-DNA and anti-alpha-actinin, have been associated with kidney involvement in SLE, and DNA antibodies are capable of initiating early-stage lupus nephritis in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice. Over 100 different autoantibodies have been described in SLE patients, highlighting the need for comprehensive autoantibody profiling. Knowledge of the antibodies associated with pSLE and proliferative nephritis will increase the understanding of SLE pathogenesis, and may aid in monitoring patients for renal flare.
We used autoantigen microarrays composed of 140 recombinant or purified antigens to compare the serum autoantibody profiles of new-onset pSLE patients (n = 45) to healthy controls (n = 17). We also compared pSLE patients with biopsy-confirmed class III or IV proliferative nephritis (n = 23) and without significant renal involvement (n = 18). We performed ELISA with selected autoantigens to validate the microarray findings. We created a multiple logistic regression model, based on the ELISA and clinical information, to predict whether a patient had proliferative nephritis, and used a validation cohort (n = 23) and longitudinal samples (88 patient visits) to test its accuracy.
Fifty autoantibodies were at significantly higher levels in the sera of pSLE patients compared to healthy controls, including anti-B cell-activating factor (BAFF). High levels of anti-BAFF were associated with active disease. Thirteen serum autoantibodies were present at significantly higher levels in pSLE patients with proliferative nephritis than those without, and we confirmed five autoantigens (dsDNA, C1q, collagens IV and X and aggrecan) by ELISA. Our model, based on ELISA measurements and clinical variables, correctly identified patients with proliferative nephritis with 91 % accuracy.
Autoantigen microarrays are an ideal platform for identifying autoantibodies associated with both pSLE and specific clinical manifestations of pSLE. Using multiple regression analysis to integrate autoantibody and clinical data permits accurate prediction of clinical manifestations with complex etiologies in pSLE.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0682-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a type of organ involvement of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that leads to disease-related morbidity and mortality. Lack of good treatments for LN continues to be problematic. Many different treatment protocols are applied in treatment centers. Not every treatment protocol is successful. Moreover, patients who reached remission may present with exacerbations. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the treatment results of our patients and investigate their remission rates as well as factors that affect remissions.
Materials and Methods:
We retrospectively investigated the results of 41 patients who were diagnosed with lupus nephritis after kidney biopsy in the Nephrology and Immunology-Rheumatology departments of Atatürk University Medical Faculty Training Hospital between January 2000 and December 2008. Demographic information, clinical history and laboratory results were collected from each patient’s records. The relationships among clinical, laboratory, demographic parameters and remissions were investigated. The patients were grouped in terms of urine protein levels; patients with urine protein < 330 mg/day were regarded as in remission and patients with urine protein ≥ 330 mg/day were were regarded as uncontrolled.
At the end of a 12-month period of therapy, 24 (58.5 %) of the patients were in remission. There were no statistically significant relationships among age, sex, anti-ds-DNA, C3, C4, activity indexes, chronicity indexes, serum level of creatinine, urine protein levels and remission (p>0.05). We compared class 3 LN patients at the 6th and 12th months according to treatment protocols. Azathioprin or mycophenolate mophetil were significantly better at placing urine protein levels in remission as compared to cyclophosphamide (p<0.05).
According to our study, no relationship was found between basal clinical and laboratory parameters and patient remission. Response rates of our LN patients were similar to those in the literature. However, complete remission is still a problem in LN. The results of the protocols used in the treatment of LN show similarities. Although there are some data suggesting that MMF used in recent years is effective, it should be supported by prospective multicenter studies. It is important to note that it is difficult to achieve complete remission in LN patients.
Lupus nephritis; Treatment; Remission
Lupus nephritis is characterised by intrarenal inflammation and lymphocyte activation.
To examine the profile of cytokine gene expression in glomerulus and tubulointerstitium in patients with lupus nephritis.
36 consecutive patients with systemic lupus erythematosus having active renal disease were recruited, and they were required to undergo kidney biopsy. Glomerular and tubulointestitial cytokine expression of interleukin (IL)2, 4, 10, 12, 18, interferon γ (IFN)γ, T‐bet (the Th1 transcription factor), GATA‐3 (the Th2 transcription factor), transforming growth factorβ and monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)1 were studied by laser microdissection of the renal biopsy specimen, followed by real‐time quantitative PCR.
There were 13 patients with World Health Organization class III nephritis, 14 patients with class IV nephritis and 9 patients with class V nephritis. There was a significant correlation between serum C3, C4 and anti‐double strand DNA antibody level with glomerular expression of T‐bet, IFNγ and IL2. There was a significant correlation between histological activity index and glomerular expression of IL12, IL18, IL10 and MCP1. In addition, the degree of glomerular leucocyte infiltration significantly correlated with glomerular expression of IFNγ, IL10, IL12 and IL18. By contrast, histological chronicity index correlated with the tubulointerstitial expression of IL2, MCP1 and GATA‐3.
Intraglomerular expression of certain target genes correlate with the severity of systemic as well as histological activity, whereas the tubulointerstitial expression of other target genes correlate with the degree of chronic kidney scarring. This result may shed light on the immunopathogenesis of lupus nephritis.
A renal biopsy is generally recommended for diagnosis and is necessary for classification of lupus nephritis (LN), but second biopsies after immunosuppressive therapy are seldom a routine procedure. We investigated how repeat biopsies contribute to the evaluation of treatment response and long-term outcome in LN.
Sixty-seven patients with active LN were included. Renal biopsies were performed at diagnosis and after standard induction immunosuppressive therapy in all patients (median 8 months), regardless of clinical outcome. Biopsies were evaluated according to the International Society of Nephrology/Renal Pathology Society classification. Clinical response was defined as complete (CR), partial (PR) or non-response (NR) according to recent definitions. Histological response (HR) was defined as Class I, II or III/IV-C on repeat biopsies. Long-term renal outcome was determined in 55 patients after a median of 10 years.
CR was demonstrated in 25%, PR in 27% and NR in 48% of patients. HR was shown in 42% and histopathological non-response (HNR) in 58% of patients. Twenty-nine per cent of CR and 61% of patients with PR had active lesions on repeat biopsies, that is, were HNR. Poor long-term renal outcome was associated with high chronicity index at repeated biopsies, but not with clinical or histological response.
Despite apparent clinical response to immunosuppressive therapy, repeated biopsies revealed persisting active nephritis in almost half of the patients, thus providing additional information to clinical response criteria. Repeated renal biopsies may be a tool to improve the evaluation of treatment response in LN.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Lupus Nephritis; Autoimmune Diseases
Incidence and disease pattern of childhood-onset SLE is reported to differ among ethnic groups.
To describe disease pattern and 6 month follow-up in a referral based cohort of 45 Vietnamese children with SLE. Forty-five children who were subsequently diagnosed to have systemic lupus erythematosus (f/m = 4/1) were referred to the Ho Chi Minh City Children’s Hospital No.1 during a 12-month period in 2009.
The mean age at diagnosis was 12.8 years (SD = 2.5). Thirty-seven (82%) fulfilled criteria for lupus nephritis (LN). At diagnosis, impressively high SLEDAI and ECLAM scores were recorded (mean and SD), 23.8 (11.6) and 6 (2.3), respectively. The mean renal SLEDAI score was 8.2. The mean haemoglobin (g/dL, SD) was 8.5 (2.1). The Coombs test was positive in 30 of 36 children (83%). The mean plasma creatinine was 0.98 (SD 1.2) and mean Westergren sedimentation rate was 83.6 (SD 37.4). The patient age at diagnosis was positively correlated to the SLEDAI (p = 0.034) and ECLAM (p = 0.022). At 6 month follow-up of the 45 children, 15 patients were in complete remission, 5 were in partial remission, 6 had stable disease, 3 had relapsed, 3 had evolving disease, 2 had ongoing resistant disease and 4 had died. Seven patients were lost to follow-up. A second renal biopsy showed an improved ISN class in 13 of 15; in 2 cases the ISN class remained unchanged.
Forty-five Vietnamese children with SLE were referred to Ho Chi Minh Children’s Hospital No. 1 during a16 month period from 2008–2009. These patients had a strikingly high prevalence of Coombs positive anaemia, a high prevalence of lupus nephritis, and very high SLEDAI and ECLAM scores at the time of diagnosis. While there may be referral biases, our Vietnamese SLE patients appear to have severe disease upon presentation but do reasonably well in the short-term.
The pathological manifestations in the kidneys in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are commonly known as lupus nephritis. We have studied the pathological changes in renal biopsies from 59 cases of clinically diagnosed SLE obtained over a 15-year period from a racially diverse population in the Sydney metropolitan area. Our aim was to see if there was any regional variation in the morphological changes.
Renal biopsy changes were assessed by routine light, immunofluorescence, and electron microscopy. We used the modified 1974 World Health Organization classification of lupus nephritis to classify cases into six classes. Disease severity was assessed by age, sex, and across racial groups, including Caucasian, Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian subcontinental, South American, and Pacific Islander.
Our analysis showed that cases of lupus nephritis contributed 5.4% of our total renal biopsies examined over a 15-year period. The overall incidence of biopsy-proven cases was 0.49 per 100,000 per year. The ages of our patients ranged from 10 to 79 years, with most below 50 years of age. A female to male ratio was determined to be 4.4:1. There was no relationship to ethnicity, nor was there a relationship between any of these parameters and the class or severity of disease.
Renal biopsy with multimodal morphological and immunohistochemical analysis remains the gold standard for diagnosis and determination of the level of disease in lupus nephritis. Based on this approach we have identified an incidence rate for southwest Sydney that is slightly higher but comparable to that found in a similar study from the United Kingdom. We also found that there was no relationship between sex, race, or age and severity of disease.
systemic lupus erythematosus; SLE; lupus nephritis; histology; immunohistochem-istry; electron microscopy
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
Objectives: Although necrotic lesions are common in proliferative lupus nephritis (LN), little is known about the impact of these lesions on outcomes. This study was undertaken to investigate the impact of glomerular necrotic lesions on renal outcomes of doubling serum creatinine in patients with class III and IV LN and necrotic lesions. Methods: 52 patients with ISN/RPS class III or IV LN were enrolled in this retrospective study, with mean follow-up of 7.4 years. All patients underwent a repeat biopsy at 12-18 months after a baseline biopsy. Results: The prevalence of necrotizing lesions was observed in 24% of those with class III versus 70.4% with class IV (P = 0.001). The rate of no remission was 44% and 22.2% in those with and without necrosis (P = 0.007), respectively. The doubling of serum creatinine was observed in 32% of those with necrosis and in 14.8% with no necrosis (P = 0.01). The chronicity index in the repeat biopsy was significantly worse among those with necrosis. Conclusions: Glomerular necrosis identifies lupus nephritis patients at the greatest risk for progression to renal failure. Proactive intervention and possibly more aggressive induction therapies in patients with necrotizing lesions may protect the kidneys from developing chronic renal impairment.
ISN/RPS; Lupus nephritis; necrosis; renal function
Deposition of chromatin-IgG complexes within glomerular membranes is a key event in the pathogenesis of lupus nephritis. We recently reported an acquired loss of renal Dnase1 expression linked to transformation from mild to severe membranoproliferative lupus nephritis in (NZBxNZW)F1 mice. As this may represent a basic mechanism in the progression of lupus nephritis, several aspects of Dnase1 expression in lupus nephritis were analyzed.
Total nuclease activity and Dnase1 expression and activity was evaluated using in situ and in vitro analyses of kidneys and sera from (NZBxNZW)F1 mice of different ages, and from age-matched healthy controls. Immunofluorescence staining for Dnase1 was performed on kidney biopsies from (NZBxNZW)F1 mice as well as from human SLE patients and controls. Reduced serum Dnase1 activity was observed in both mesangial and end-stage lupus nephritis. A selective reduction in renal Dnase1 activity was seen in mice with massive deposition of chromatin-containing immune complexes in glomerular capillary walls. Mice with mild mesangial nephritis showed normal renal Dnase1 activity. Similar differences were seen when comparing human kidneys with severe and mild lupus nephritis. Dnase1 was diffusely expressed within the kidney in normal and mildly affected kidneys, whereas upon progression towards end-stage renal disease, Dnase1 was down-regulated in all renal compartments. This demonstrates that the changes associated with development of severe nephritis in the murine model are also relevant to human lupus nephritis.
Reduction in renal Dnase1 expression and activity is limited to mice and SLE patients with signs of membranoproliferative nephritis, and may be a critical event in the development of severe forms of lupus nephritis. Reduced Dnase1 activity reflects loss in the expression of the protein and not inhibition of enzyme activity.
Lupus nephritis is a frequent and serious complication of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Treatment often requires the use of immunosuppression, and may be associated with severe side effects. The ability to predict relapse, relapse severity, and recovery could be used to more effectively implement therapy and reduce toxicity. We postulated that a proteomic analysis of the low-molecular weight urine proteome using serial urine samples obtained before, during, and after SLE nephritis flares would demonstrate potential biomarkers of SLE renal flare. This study was undertaken to test our hypothesis.
Urine from 25 flare cycles of 19 WHO Class III, IV, and V SLE nephritis patients was used. Urine samples included a baseline, and pre-flare, flare, and post-flare specimens. The urines were fractionated to remove proteins larger than 30 kDa, and spotted onto weak cation exchanger (CM10) protein chips for analysis by surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (SELDI-TOF MS).
SELDI-TOF MS screening showed 176 protein ions between 2-20 kDa of which 27 were found to be differentially-expressed between specific flare intervals. On-chip peptide sequencing by integrated tandem mass spectrometry was used to positively identify selected differentially-expressed protein ions. The identified proteins included the 20 and 25 amino acid isoforms of hepcidin, a fragment of α1-antitrypsin, and an albumin fragment. Hepcidin 20 increased 4 months pre-flare and returned to baseline at renal flare, whereas hepcidin 25 decreased at renal flare and returned to baseline 4 months post-flare.
Using SELDI-TOF urine protein profiling in lupus nephritis, several candidate biomarkers of renal flare were found. To verify these candidates as true biomarkers, further identification and validation are needed in an independent SLE cohort.
lupus nephritis; biomarker; SELDI
Objective: To investigate antibodies to complement 1q (anti-C1q) and investigate the correlation between anti-C1q titres and renal disease in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: 151 SLE patients were studied. In patients with biopsy proven lupus nephritis (n = 77), activity of renal disease was categorised according to the BILAG renal score. Sera were tested for anti-C1q by enzyme immunoassay. Serum samples were randomly selected from 83 SLE patients who had no history of renal disease, and the positive and negative predictive value of the antibodies was studied.
Results: Patients with active lupus nephritis (BILAG A or B) had a higher prevalence of anti-C1q than those with no renal disease (74% v 32%; relative risk (RR) = 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.6 to 3.3)) (p<0.0001). There was no significant difference in anti-C1q prevalence between SLE without nephritis and SLE with non-active nephritis (BILAG C or D) (32% v 53%, p = 0.06) or between active and non-active nephritis (74% v 53%, p = 0.06). Patients with nephritis had higher anti-C1q levels than those without nephritis (36.0 U/ml (range 4.9 to 401.0) v 7.3 U/ml (4.9 to 401.0)) (p<0.001). Anti-C1q were found in 33 of 83 patients (39%) without history of renal disease. Nine of the 33 patients with anti-C1q developed lupus nephritis. The median renal disease-free interval was nine months. One patient with positive anti-C1q was diagnosed as having hypocomplementaemic urticarial vasculitis syndrome during follow up.
Conclusions: Anti-C1q in SLE are associated with renal involvement. Monitoring anti-C1q and their titres in SLE patients could be important for predicting renal flares.
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a major cause of morbidity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). B cells have a central role in the pathogenesis of SLE. B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) and a proliferation inducing ligand (APRIL) are pivotal in B cell homeostasis. We aimed to investigate a potential role of serum BLyS and APRIL as biomarkers in LN, especially as predictors of treatment response.
Sixty-four patients with active LN (52 proliferative lupus nephritis (PLN); 12 membranous LN) were included. Renal biopsies were performed at baseline and after immunosuppressive treatment. Serum levels of BLyS, APRIL and autoantibodies were measured on both biopsy occasions and in 64 individually matched controls. Renal biopsies were evaluated using the International Society of Nephrology/Renal Pathology Society classification, and scored for Activity Index and Chronicity Index. Clinical responders (CR) were required to have ≥50% reduction in proteinuria, normal or improved renal function, and inactive urinary sediment. Histopathological responders (HR) were required to have ≥50% improvement in Activity Index.
Baseline BLyS levels were significantly higher in LN patients compared with controls (p<0.001) and remained unchanged following induction treatment. APRIL levels were significantly higher in patients compared with controls at baseline (p=0.005) and decreased following treatment (p<0.001). Among PLN patients, APRIL levels decreased significantly only in responders (CR: p=0.009; HR: p=0.01). Baseline BLyS levels <1.5 ng/mL predicted treatment response, attaining a positive predictive value of 92% for CR with PLN at baseline.
BLyS and APRIL were affected differently by immunosuppression; BLyS levels remained unchanged following therapy while APRIL levels decreased. Despite unchanged BLyS levels following therapy, low baseline levels predicted both clinical and histopathological improvement. Our data support APRIL as a candidate biomarker of renal disease activity in lupus patients with proliferative glomerulonephritis and point to low baseline BLyS levels predicting treatment response in LN, especially in PLN.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Lupus Nephritis; B cells
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
Lupus Nephritis (LN) develops in more than half of the Systemic Lupus Erythematous (SLE) patients. However, lack of reliable, specific biomarkers for LN hampers clinical management of patients and impedes development of new therapeutics. The goal of this study was to investigate whether oxidative stress biomarkers in patients with SLE is predictive of renal pathology. Serum biochemical and oxidative stress markers were measured in patients with inactive lupus, active lupus with and without nephritis and compared to healthy control group. To assess the predictive performance of biomarkers, Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves were constructed and cut-offs were used to identify SLE patients with nephritis. We observed an increased oxidative stress response in all SLE patients compared to healthy controls. Among the several biomarkers tested, serum thiols had a significant inverse association with SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI). Interestingly, thiols were able too aptly differentiate between SLE patients with and without renal pathology, and serum thiol levels were not affected by immunosuppressive drug therapy. The decreased thiols in SLE correlated significantly with serum creatinine and serum C3 levels. Further retrospective evaluation using serum creatinine or C3 levels in combination with thiol’s cutoff values from ROC analysis, we could positively predict chronicity of renal pathology in SLE patients. In summary, serum thiols emerge as an inexpensive and reliable indicator of LN, which may not only help in early identification of renal pathology but also aid in the therapeutic management of the disease, in developing countries with resource poor settings.