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Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(7):2031-2037.
The published criteria for the proteinuria increase that constitutes a proteinuric flare in lupus glomerulonephritis (SLE GN) vary widely, likely because they are largely based on expert opinion. Ideally, the threshold for proteinuric flare should be set sufficiently high so that spontaneous variation in proteinuria does not likely explain the increase, but not so high that the patient is needlessly exposed to prolonged heavy proteinuria before a flare is declared and therapy is increased. Here we describe an evidence-based approach to setting the threshold for proteinuric flare based on quantifying the spontaneous variation in urine protein/creatinine (P/C) ratio of SLE GN patients who are not experiencing SLE flare.
SLE GN patients (N = 71) followed in the Ohio SLE Study (OSS) were tested at pre-specified bimonthly intervals within windows of ± 1 week, median follow-up > 44 mo, visit compliance > 90%. To assess spontaneous P/C ratio variation under no-flare conditions, we excluded P/C ratios measured within ± 4 month of renal flare.
For those with mean no-flare P/C ratios ≤ 0.5, the published flare thresholds are set well above the 99% confidence interval (CI) of the no-flare P/C ratios. The opposite is seen in those with patients whose mean no-flare P/C ratios ≥ 1.0.
Current thresholds for proteinuric flare appear to be set either too high or too low. A randomized trial would be needed to test whether re-setting the thresholds would result in faster remission, less therapy, and less chronic kidney disease.
PMCID: PMC3117977  PMID: 21400484
2.  sIL7R concentrations in the serum reflect disease activity in the lupus kidney 
Lupus Science & Medicine  2014;1(1):e000036.
Evaluation of disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) nephritis is a challenge, and repeated renal biopsies are usually needed in order to confirm a suspicion of flare. In a previous cross-sectional study, we reported that serum soluble form of the interleukin-7 receptor (sIL7R) levels is strongly associated with nephritis in SLE patients. In the present study, we wanted to confirm the association between changes in serum sIL7R concentrations and renal disease activity in a large longitudinal cohort of SLE nephritis patients.
Sera were harvested longitudinally in 105 SLE nephritis patients. Serum sIL7R cut-off value for the detection of SLE nephritis activity was determined as the mean sIL7R concentration in non-nephritis SLE patients + 2 SDs using data collected in our previous study. Patients with glomerular filtration rate (GFR) <60 mL/min/1.73 m2 (n=17) were excluded from the study due to persistently elevated serum sIL7R values.
Serum sIL7R concentrations above the renal cut-off value were observed in 25 (out of 88) patients with a normal GFR. These patients had significantly higher serum double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) Ab and urinary protein to creatinine (UPC) ratio. Strikingly, 12 of them developed a renal British Isles Lupus Assessment Group index (BILAG) A within the next 3 months, while this was only the case in four out of the 63 other patients (p<0.0001). The test had 75.0% sensitivity and 81.9% specificity for the detection of a renal BILAG A. Combination of serum sIL7R with any of the classical tests (anti-dsDNA Ab titres, UPC ratio, serum C3) resulted in an increased specificity for the detection of a renal flare. Administration of immunosuppressive therapy resulted in a significant decrease in serum sIL7R concentrations.
Serum sIL7R is a sensitive and specific marker of renal disease activity in SLE. Elevated serum sIL7R values in SLE patients are associated with or predict the occurrence of an SLE nephritis flare.
PMCID: PMC4225729  PMID: 25396066
Lupus Nephritis; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Disease Activity
3.  Umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in active and refractory systemic lupus erythematosus: a multicenter clinical study 
In our present single-center pilot study, umbilical cord (UC)–derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) had a good safety profile and therapeutic effect in severe and refractory systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The present multicenter clinical trial was undertaken to assess the safety and efficacy of allogeneic UC MSC transplantation (MSCT) in patients with active and refractory SLE.
Forty patients with active SLE were recruited from four clinical centers in China. Allogeneic UC MSCs were infused intravenously on days 0 and 7. The primary endpoints were safety profiles. The secondary endpoints included major clinical response (MCR), partial clinical response (PCR) and relapse. Clinical indices, including Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) score, British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) score and renal functional indices, were also taken into account.
The overall survival rate was 92.5% (37 of 40 patients). UC-MSCT was well tolerated, and no transplantation-related adverse events were observed. Thirteen and eleven patients achieved MCR (13 of 40, 32.5%) and PCR (11 of 40, 27.5%), respectively, during 12 months of follow up. Three and four patients experienced disease relapse at 9 months (12.5%) and 12 months (16.7%) of follow-up, respectively, after a prior clinical response. SLEDAI scores significantly decreased at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months follow-up. Total BILAG scores markedly decreased at 3 months and continued to decrease at subsequent follow-up visits. BILAG scores for renal, hematopoietic and cutaneous systems significantly improved. Among those patients with lupus nephritis, 24-hour proteinuria declined after transplantation, with statistically differences at 9 and 12 months. Serum creatinine and urea nitrogen decreased to the lowest level at 6 months, but these values slightly increased at 9 and 12 months in seven relapse cases. In addition, serum levels of albumin and complement 3 increased after MSCT, peaked at 6 months and then slightly declined by the 9- and 12-month follow-up examinations. Serum antinuclear antibody and anti-double-stranded DNA antibody decreased after MSCT, with statistically significant differences at 3-month follow-up examinations.
UC-MSCT results in satisfactory clinical response in SLE patients. However, in our present study, several patients experienced disease relapse after 6 months, indicating the necessity to repeat MSCT after 6 months.
Trial registry identifier: NCT01741857. Registered 26 September 2012.
PMCID: PMC4060570  PMID: 24661633
4.  A prospective study of protein excretion using short-interval timed urine collections in patients with lupus nephritis 
Kidney international  2009;76(12):1284-1288.
The 24-h urine protein-to-creatinine ratio is the gold standard in evaluating proteinuria in lupus nephritis; however, the urine collection is inconvenient to the patient. Random spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratios, although convenient, have poor agreement with the 24-h ratios in these patients. Here, we sought to define a timed collection interval providing accurate and precise data and patient convenience. Urine from 41 patients, in 2 medical centers, with biopsy-proven lupus nephritis was collected at 6-h intervals for 24 h. The protein-to-creatinine ratio of each short collection was then compared with that of a 24-h collection made by combining the 6-h samples. A first morning void and spot urine samples were collected before and after the 24-h collection, respectively. There was significant diurnal variation with peak proteinuria at 6–12 h and nadir at 18–24 h. Each 6-h collection showed excellent correlation and concordance with the 24-h protein-to-creatinine ratio, but the 12–24-h interval had the best agreement. In contrast to the random spot urines, the first morning void also had excellent correlation and concordance, but underestimated the 24-h protein-to-creatinine ratio. Our study shows that a 12-h overnight urine collection is the best surrogate, with excellent agreement with the 24-h protein-to-creatinine ratio, and it is convenient for patients. There was little variability between centers, an important feature for clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3093656  PMID: 19759526
glomerulonephritis; lupus nephritis; nephritis; proteinuria systemic lupus erythematosus
5.  Serum levels of autoantibodies against C-reactive protein correlate with renal disease activity and response to therapy in lupus nephritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R188.
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.
PMCID: PMC3003497  PMID: 20003354
6.  Diagnostic accuracy of spot urinary protein and albumin to creatinine ratios for detection of significant proteinuria or adverse pregnancy outcome in patients with suspected pre-eclampsia: systematic review and meta-analysis 
Objective To determine the diagnostic accuracy of two “spot urine” tests for significant proteinuria or adverse pregnancy outcome in pregnant women with suspected pre-eclampsia.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources Searches of electronic databases 1980 to January 2011, reference list checking, hand searching of journals, and contact with experts.
Inclusion criteria Diagnostic studies, in pregnant women with hypertension, that compared the urinary spot protein to creatinine ratio or albumin to creatinine ratio with urinary protein excretion over 24 hours or adverse pregnancy outcome. Study characteristics, design, and methodological and reporting quality were objectively assessed.
Data extraction Study results relating to diagnostic accuracy were extracted and synthesised using multivariate random effects meta-analysis methods.
Results Twenty studies, testing 2978 women (pregnancies), were included. Thirteen studies examining protein to creatinine ratio for the detection of significant proteinuria were included in the multivariate analysis. Threshold values for protein to creatinine ratio ranged between 0.13 and 0.5, with estimates of sensitivity ranging from 0.65 to 0.89 and estimates of specificity from 0.63 to 0.87; the area under the summary receiver operating characteristics curve was 0.69. On average, across all studies, the optimum threshold (that optimises sensitivity and specificity combined) seems to be between 0.30 and 0.35 inclusive. However, no threshold gave a summary estimate above 80% for both sensitivity and specificity, and considerable heterogeneity existed in diagnostic accuracy across studies at most thresholds. No studies looked at protein to creatinine ratio and adverse pregnancy outcome. For albumin to creatinine ratio, meta-analysis was not possible. Results from a single study suggested that the most predictive result, for significant proteinuria, was with the DCA 2000 quantitative analyser (>2 mg/mmol) with a summary sensitivity of 0.94 (95% confidence interval 0.86 to 0.98) and a specificity of 0.94 (0.87 to 0.98). In a single study of adverse pregnancy outcome, results for perinatal death were a sensitivity of 0.82 (0.48 to 0.98) and a specificity of 0.59 (0.51 to 0.67).
Conclusion The maternal “spot urine” estimate of protein to creatinine ratio shows promising diagnostic value for significant proteinuria in suspected pre-eclampsia. The existing evidence is not, however, sufficient to determine how protein to creatinine ratio should be used in clinical practice, owing to the heterogeneity in test accuracy and prevalence across studies. Insufficient evidence is available on the use of albumin to creatinine ratio in this area. Insufficient evidence exists for either test to predict adverse pregnancy outcome.
PMCID: PMC3392077  PMID: 22777026
7.  Urine neopterin as a parameter of disease activity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: comparisons with serum sIL-2R and antibodies to dsDNA, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and plasma C3, C4, and C3 degradation products. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1993;52(6):429-435.
OBJECTIVES--To investigate urine neopterin as a parameter of disease activity in an unselected group of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and to study the relation between urine neopterin and certain patterns of organ disease and differing drug regimens in the treatment of SLE. METHODS--Neopterin was determined by high performance liquid chromatography in 115 early morning urine samples from 68 patients with SLE. Serum soluble interleukin 2 receptor (sIL-2R) and antibodies to double stranded DNA (dsDNA) were determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), plasma C3, C4, and C3 degradation products (C3dg) were measured in corresponding blood samples. Disease activity was scored using the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) index. RESULTS--Urine neopterin was significantly increased in patients with active and inactive SLE compared with the control group and was significantly higher in patients with active than in those with inactive SLE. Urine neopterin did not distinguish between subsets of patients with SLE with particular patterns of organ disease, as defined by the BILAG index, nor was its level primarily influenced by differing drug regimens. Levels of serum sIL-2R, antibodies to dsDNA, the ESR, and plasma C3, C4, and C3dg were also significantly different between the patients with active and inactive SLE. Unlike urine neopterin there was considerable overlap in the values of these parameters between the two activity groups. Highly significant correlations found between urine neopterin and serum sIL-2R, ESR, and plasma C3, C4, and C3dg suggest the close association of neopterin with clinical activity in SLE. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that urine neopterin > 300 mumol/mol creatinine was a highly significant predictor of disease activity with an odds ratio of 3.51. CONCLUSIONS--Determination of urine neopterin, a non-invasive, relatively simple and inexpensive measurement, appears to be the best parameter for assessing and monitoring disease activity and treatment in patients with SLE.
PMCID: PMC1005067  PMID: 8323394
8.  Comparison of Estimated Protein Output and Urine Protein: Creatinine Ratio in First and Second Voids with 24-Hour Urine Protein 
Nephron Extra  2011;1(1):235-241.
Current UK guidelines for the identification, management and referral of chronic kidney disease advise an early-morning urine sample for the albumin:creatinine ratio or the protein:creatinine ratio (PCR) in order to quantify proteinuria. Estimated protein output (EPO) is an alternative and possibly better method of quantifying proteinuria which takes lean weight into consideration.
We carried out a single-centre study of 36 adult patients with proteinuric nephropathy over a period of 18 months. Urinary PCR and EPO estimates of 24-hour urine protein were compared with 24-hour urine collections by Bland-Altman analysis.
Average 24-hour urine protein was 1.6 g (range 0.2–5.1 g). Best agreement with 24-hour protein was for first-void EPO (limits of agreement 0.33–1.59) followed by a second-void EPO (0.40–1.76), then second-void PCR (0.40–2.08) and lastly first-void PCR (0.28–2.03). None of the differences between estimates of urine protein excretion and 24-hour urine protein were statistically significant. All estimates of protein output had wide confidence intervals confirming that spot urine samples, while simple and convenient to do, are imprecise measures of 24-hour urine protein excretion.
When estimating 24-hour urine protein from a spot urine sample, EPO may be marginally more accurate than PCR, and first-void urine samples slightly better than second-void urine samples, but a first- or second-void PCR will suffice in most instances.
PMCID: PMC3290846  PMID: 22470397
Albumin:creatinine ratio; Albuminuria; Estimated protein output; Kidney disease; Protein:creatinine ratio; Proteinuria
9.  Quantifying Proteinuria in Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy 
Background. Progressive proteinuria indicates worsening of the condition in hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and hence its quantification guides clinician in decision making and treatment planning. Objective. To evaluate the efficacy of spot dipstick analysis and urinary protein-creatinine ratio (UPCR) in hypertensive disease of pregnancy for predicting 24-hour proteinuria. Subjects and Methods. A total of 102 patients qualifying inclusion criteria were evaluated with preadmission urine dipstick test and UPCR performed on spot voided sample. After admission, the entire 24-hour urine sample was collected and analysed for daily protein excretion. Dipstick estimation and UPCR were compared to the 24-hour results. Results. Seventy-eight patients (76.5%) had significant proteinuria of more than 300 mg/24 h. Dipstick method showed 59% sensitivity and 67% specificity for prediction of significant proteinuria. Area under curve for UPCR was 0.89 (95% CI: 0.83 to 0.95, P < 0.001) showing 82% sensitivity and 12.5% false positive rate for cutoff value of 0.45. Higher cutoff values (1.46 and 1.83) predicted heavy proteinuria (2 g and 3 g/24 h, resp.). Conclusion. This study suggests that random urinary protein : creatine ratio is a reliable investigation compared to dipstick method to assess proteinuria in hypertensive pregnant women. However, clinical laboratories should standardize the reference values for their setup.
PMCID: PMC4181784  PMID: 25302114
10.  Improved prognostic diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus in an early stage of disease by a combination of different predictive biomarkers identified by proteome analysis 
The EPMA Journal  2014;5(1):5.
Since the original characterizations of the pathological features defining glomerulonephritis in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were reported, numerous studies have linked the development of pathology to the abnormal expression of protein in urine. The determination of proteinuria is important and necessary; however, this alone is not predictive enough to confirm a suspected diagnosis, especially in an early state of disease when symptoms are not yet observed. Furthermore, several studies have already highlighted the pitfalls of proteinuria both as a clinical prognostic marker and as a factor predicting the progressive loss of renal function. Therefore, the identification of more accurate and predictive biomarkers is urgently needed. To address this, comparative urinary and kidney profiling was performed in the MRL-lpr/lpr mouse as a model of lupus tubulointerstitial nephritis and lupus glomerulonephritis corresponding to SLE in humans.
Tamm-Horsfall glycoprotein (THG; uromodulin) and beta2-microglubulin (β2M) were identified as immune process-related molecules in the urine and kidney of the MRL-lpr/lpr mouse model. Furthermore, we show that the combinatory expression profile of THG and β2M as biomarkers, normalized by the proteinuria level, is more predictive than proteinuria determination alone. Data were confirmed by comparative urinary profiling of SLE in mice by Western blot and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis.
Based on our results, we are able to diagnose SLE in the MRL-lpr/lpr mouse in a very early state of disease, when the proteinuria level alone is not able to confirm a suspected diagnosis. The pre-validation of our urinary biomarkers is associated with clinical outcomes of glomerulonephritis in humans and merits additional investigation. Further conformations of our predictive biomarkers in the urine of SLE patients in the course of a clinical study are still ongoing.
PMCID: PMC3998108  PMID: 24650571
Lupus nephritis; Panel of predictive biomarker; Systemic lupus erythematosus; MRL-lpr/lpr mouse model
The Journal of rheumatology  2008;35(12):2430-2438.
Melanoma-associated antigen gene B2 (MAGE-B2) encodes an embryonic antigen normally silenced after birth except in testis and placenta. We identified the MAGE-B2 gene and autoantibodies in pediatric patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) glomerulonephritis. Our purpose herein was to determine the prevalence of MAGE-B2 autoantibodies in association with active SLE, as well as to infer a pathogenetic role of MAGE-B2 protein through its distribution in cells and tissues.
A cross-sectional study analyzed the frequency of MAGE-B2 autoantibodies in 40 pediatric SLE patients, 23 adult controls, and 16 pediatric juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) patients using Western blots containing recombinant MAGE-B2. SLE disease activity index 2000 (SLEDAI-2K) and British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) index measured SLE disease activity. Tissue distribution of MAGE-B2 protein was also assessed by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and Western blots.
Seventeen (43%) of 40 pediatric SLE patients had MAGE-B2 autoantibodies as compared to 0 of 16 JRA patients and 2 of 23 adult controls. SLE disease activity was significantly higher in MAGE-B2 autoantibody-positive vs. autoantibody-negative patients (SLEDAI-2K: mean 10.9 vs. 5.2, p=0.013; BILAG: mean 15.3 vs. 6.3, p=0.023). Active nephritis was more prevalent (60% vs. 24%) in MAGE-B2 autoantibody-positive SLE patients. MAGE-B2 protein was visualized in SLE kidney proximal convoluted tubules and in tumor epithelial cells, but not in lymphoblastoid cells.
MAGE-B2 autoantibody appears to be a clinically relevant biomarker for pediatric SLE disease activity and nephritis.
PMCID: PMC2765927  PMID: 19004030
Systemic lupus erythematosus; MAGE-B2; autoantibody; disease biomarker; glomerulonephritis; pediatric
12.  Biomarker Discovery for Lupus Nephritis Through Longitudinal Urine Proteomics 
Kidney international  2008;74(6):799-807.
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.
PMCID: PMC2614389  PMID: 18596723
lupus nephritis; biomarker; SELDI
13.  British isles lupus assessment group 2004 index is valid for assessment of disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2007;56(12):4113-4119.
To determine the construct and criterion validity of the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group 2004 (BILAG-2004) index for assessing disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Patients with SLE were recruited into a multicenter cross-sectional study. Data on SLE disease activity (scores on the BILAG-2004 index, Classic BILAG index, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index 2000 [SLEDAI-2K]), investigations, and therapy were collected. Overall BILAG-2004 and overall Classic BILAG scores were determined by the highest score achieved in any of the individual systems in the respective index. Erythrocyte sedimentation rates (ESRs), C3 levels, C4 levels, anti–double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) levels, and SLEDAI-2K scores were used in the analysis of construct validity, and increase in therapy was used as the criterion for active disease in the analysis of criterion validity. Statistical analyses were performed using ordinal logistic regression for construct validity and logistic regression for criterion validity. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) were calculated.
Of the 369 patients with SLE, 92.7% were women, 59.9% were white, 18.4% were Afro-Caribbean and 18.4% were South Asian. Their mean ± SD age was 41.6 ± 13.2 years and mean disease duration was 8.8 ± 7.7 years. More than 1 assessment was obtained on 88.6% of the patients, and a total of 1,510 assessments were obtained. Increasing overall scores on the BILAG-2004 index were associated with increasing ESRs, decreasing C3 levels, decreasing C4 levels, elevated anti-dsDNA levels, and increasing SLEDAI-2K scores (all P < 0.01). Increase in therapy was observed more frequently in patients with overall BILAG-2004 scores reflecting higher disease activity. Scores indicating active disease (overall BILAG-2004 scores of A and B) were significantly associated with increase in therapy (odds ratio [OR] 19.3, P < 0.01). The BILAG-2004 and Classic BILAG indices had comparable sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV.
These findings show that the BILAG-2004 index has construct and criterion validity.
PMCID: PMC2659367  PMID: 18050213
14.  Diagnostic accuracy of urinary spot protein:creatinine ratio for proteinuria in hypertensive pregnant women: systematic review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;336(7651):1003-1006.
Objective To review the spot protein:creatinine ratio and albumin:creatinine ratio as diagnostic tests for significant proteinuria in hypertensive pregnant women.
Design Systematic review.
Data sources Medline and Embase, the Cochrane Library, reference lists, and experts.
Review methods Literature search (1980-2007) for articles of the spot protein:creatinine ratio or albumin:creatinine ratio in hypertensive pregnancy, with 24 hour proteinuria as the comparator.
Results 13 studies concerned the spot protein:creatinine ratio (1214 women with primarily gestational hypertension). Nine studies reported sensitivity and specificity for eight cut-off points, median 24 mg/mmol (range 17-57 mg/mmol; 0.15-0.50 mg/mg). Laboratory assays were not well described. Diagnostic test characteristics were recalculated for a cut-off point of 30 mg/mmol. No significant heterogeneity in cut-off points was found between studies over a range of proteinuria. Pooled values gave a sensitivity of 83.6% (95% confidence interval 77.5% to 89.7%), specificity of 76.3% (72.6% to 80.0%), positive likelihood ratio of 3.53 (2.83 to 4.49), and negative likelihood ratio of 0.21 (0.13 to 0.31) (nine studies, 1003 women). Two studies of the spot albumin:creatinine ratio (225 women) found optimal cut-off points of 2 mg/mmol for proteinuria of 0.3 g/day or more and 27 mg/mmol for albuminuria.
Conclusion The spot protein:creatinine ratio is a reasonable “rule-out” test for detecting proteinuria of 0.3 g/day or more in hypertensive pregnancy. Information on use of the albumin:creatinine ratio in these women is insufficient.
PMCID: PMC2364863  PMID: 18403498
15.  Efficacy and safety of rituximab therapy for systemic lupus erythematosus: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Objective: To review the efficacy and safety of rituximab therapy for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).Methods: We searched for randomized controlled trails and observational studies that evaluated the effect of rituximab based on the systemic lupus erythematosus disease activity index (SLEDAI), British Isles lupus assessment group index (BILAG), urine protein levels, and the prednisolone dose, and had adequate data to calculate the mean, standard deviation (SD), and 95% confidence intervals, and to systematically review and meta-analyze observational studies with fixed effects model or random effects model. Results: We included 2 randomized controlled studies and 19 observational clinical studies. We summarized the data from the 19 observational studies, analyzed the heterogeneity of the literature, and then used fixed effect model or random effect model for statistical analysis. The SLEDAI, BILAG, and urine protein levels and the prednisolone dosage were decreased after rituximab treatment, and the decreases in the BILAG, urine protein levels, and the prednisolone dose were found to be significant (P<0.05), when compared with baseline level. Rituximab’s adverse effects generally could be controlled with an effective dosing regimen. Conclusions: Although there are still controversies about rituximab’s treatment on SLE, but our study had showed that rituximab had favorable effects on refractory lupus. The long-term efficacy and safety of rituximab require further study.
PMCID: PMC3437371  PMID: 22949364
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Rituximab; Meta-analysis
16.  Rituximab therapy for juvenile-onset systemic lupus erythematosus 
Rituximab (RTX), an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody, has been proposed for use in the therapy of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We present the initial long-term experience of the safety and efficacy of rituximab for treatment of SLE in children. Eighteen patients (mean age 14 ± 3 years) with severe SLE were treated with rituximab after demonstrating resistance or toxicity to conventional regimens. There was a predominance of female (16/18) and ethnic African (13/18) patients. All had lupus nephritis [World Health Organization (WHO) classes 3–5] and systemic manifestations of vasculitis. Clinical disease activity of the SLE was scored with the SLE-disease activity index 2K (SLEDAI-2K). Patients were followed-up for an average of 3.0 ± 1.3 years (range 0.5 to 4.8 years). B-cell depletion occurred within 2 weeks in all patients and persisted for up to 1 year in some. Clinical activity scores, double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) antibodies, renal function and proteinuria [urine protein to creatinine ratio (Upr/cr)] improved in 93% of the patients. Five patients required multiple courses of RTX for relapse, with B-cell repopulation. One died of infectious endocarditis related to severe immunosuppression. In conclusion, our data support the efficacy of rituximab as adjunctive treatment for SLE in children. Although rituximab was well tolerated by the majority of patients, randomized controlled trials are required to establish its long-term safety and efficacy.
PMCID: PMC2214826  PMID: 18097688
Rituximab; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Children
17.  Maternal and Fetal Outcomes in Pregnant Patients with Active Lupus Nephritis 
Lupus  2009;18(4):342-347.
The objective of this study was to determine the impact of lupus nephritis disease activity on maternal and fetal outcomes in pregnant patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Medical records of all pregnant patients with SLE treated at our institution between 1976 and 2007 were reviewed. All patients met American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for SLE. Demographic data, history of lupus nephritis, nephritis disease activity, and maternal and fetal outcomes of pregnancy were abstracted. Active lupus nephritis was defined as the presence of proteinuria > 0.5 g/day and/or active urinary sediment with or without an elevation in serum creatinine (Cr). Quiescent lupus nephritis was confirmed in the presence of proteinuria < 0.5 mg/day and inactive urinary sediment.
We identified fifty-eight patients with ninety pregnancies. Compared to pregnancies in SLE patients without renal involvement (n=47), pregnancies in patients with active lupus nephritis (n=23) were associated with a higher incidence of maternal complications (57% vs. 11%, p<0.001), whereas those with quiescent lupus nephritis (n=20) were not (35% vs. 11%, p=0.10). Women with active lupus nephritis were more likely to deliver preterm than women without lupus nephritis, median of 34 weeks vs. 40 gestational weeks, respectively (p=0.002), and were more likely to suffer fetal loss (35% vs 9%, p=0.031).
Active, but not quiescent, lupus nephritis during pregnancy is associated with a higher incidence of maternal and fetal complications compared to pregnancies in SLE patients without renal involvement.
PMCID: PMC2724676  PMID: 19276302
Pregnancy; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Lupus nephritis; Pregnancy outcomes; Preeclampsia
18.  Anti-C1q antibodies in nephritis: correlation between titres and renal disease activity and positive predictive value in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2004;64(3):444-448.
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.
PMCID: PMC1755385  PMID: 15286009
19.  Evaluation of Rapid Diagnostic Methods of Urinary Protein Estimation in Patients of Preeclampsia of Advanced Gestational Age 
24-h urine protein is traditionally used as a gold standard method for protein estimation. Because of the operational difficulty, there is the necessity to use rapid, convenient, and reliable method of proteinuria estimation.
We carried out this study to compare the two rapid methods of protein estimation: dipstick method and spot urine protein creatinine ratio (UPCR) with that of 24-h urine protein in patients of preeclampsia with advanced gestational period.
The values of proteinuria estimated by dipstick method and spot UPCR were compared with that of 24-h urine protein. The strength of correlation was measured by Pearson’s correlation coefficient (r). A p value of <0.05 is considered to be statistically significant. The most discriminant spot UPCR value for detecting significant proteinuria (≥300 mg/day) was determined by plotting receiver–operator curve (ROC).
The value of spot UPCR strongly correlated with 24-h urine protein (r = 0.88 with p value <0.001). The most discriminant spot UPCR value for detecting significant proteinuria (≥300 mg/day) was 0.3. The estimation of proteinuria by dipstick method was poorly correlated with 24-h urine protein with r = −0.09.
Spot UPCR can be used as a rapid and reliable alternative method in preference to 24-h proteinuria in patients of preeclampsia of advanced gestational age.
PMCID: PMC3798439  PMID: 24431664
Preeclampsia; Spot UPCR; 24 h urine protein; Dipstick method
20.  Correlation of random urine protein creatinine (P-C) ratio with 24-hour urine protein and P-C ratio, based on physical activity: a pilot study 
Quantification of proteinuria is usually predicated upon 24-hour urine collection. Multiple factors influence urine collection and the rate of protein and creatinine excretion. Urine collection is often incomplete, and therefore creatinine and protein excretion rates are underestimated. A random urine protein-creatinine (P-C) ratio has been shown over the years to be a reliable alternative to the 24-hour collection for detection and follow up of proteinuria. However, urine protein excretion may be influenced by physical activity. We studied 48 patients with proteinuria and varying levels of physical activity to determine the correlation between the measures of urine protein excretion. The correlation coefficient (r) between 24-hour urine total protein and random urine P-C ratio was 0.75 (P < 0.01) in the overall study population, but varied according to the level of proteinuria and physical activity in a stratified analysis: r = 0.99 (P < 0.001) and r = 0.95 (P < 0.01) in bedridden patients; r = 0.44 (P = not significant [NS]) and r = 0.54 (P = NS) in semiactive patients; and r = 0.44 (P = NS) and r = 0.58 (P < 0.05) in active patients with nephrotic- (>3500 mg/day) and non-nephrotic (<3500 mg/day) range proteinuria, respectively. The correlation appeared to be stronger between random urine and 24-hour urine P-C ratio for the overall study population (r = 0.84; P < 0.001), and when stratified according to the level of proteinuria and physical activity: r = 0.99 (P < 0.001) and r = 0.92 (P < 0.01) in bedridden patients; r = 0.61 (P = NS) and r = 0.54 (P = NS) in semiactive patients; and r = 0.64 (P < 0.02) and r = 0.52 (P < 0.05) in active patients with nephrotic and non-nephrotic range proteinuria, respectively. We conclude that the random urine P-C ratio is a reliable and practical way of estimating and following proteinuria, but its precision and accuracy may be affected by the level of patient physical activity.
PMCID: PMC2940743  PMID: 20856681
random urine; 24-hour urine; proteinuria; protein-creatinine ratio; activity
21.  Screening for proteinuria in a rheumatology clinic: comparison of dipstick testing, 24 hour urine quantitative protein, and protein/creatinine ratio in random urine samples. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1988;47(9):759-763.
Measurements of protein/creatinine ratio in 'spot' urine samples were compared with measurements of 24 hour quantitative proteinuria and side room 'dipstick' testing in 104 samples from 90 patients presenting consecutively to a rheumatology unit. Linear regression analysis showed a highly significant correlation between the random urinary protein/creatinine ratio and total protein excretion in 24 hour urine samples (r = 0.92, p less than 0.001, y = 6.55x + 0.04). Although an approximation of 24 hour urinary protein excretion could have been made from the regression line: 24 hour urine protein = 6.55 x protein/creatinine ratio + 0.04 (g/l), there was a wide scatter of values, particularly in patients with greater than 1 g/24 h urinary protein excretion. Nevertheless, significant proteinuria (greater than 300 mg/24 h) could have been confirmed or excluded with a sensitivity and specificity of 97% by adopting random protein/creatinine values of less than 0.04 as 'normal'. Specificity and sensitivity could have been increased to 100%, however, by excluding patients with values lying between 0.01 and 0.10 as all the false negatives (n = 3) and false positives (n = 3) lay within this range. In comparison, dipstick testing, although 100% sensitive, had a poor specificity due to the high false positive rate (40/83 (48%] in patients with 1+ to 3+ readings. Assessment of random urinary protein/creatinine ratio may obviate the need for 24 hour urine collections in the initial assessment of suspected proteinuria. A wider application of this technique seems indicated in view of the obvious advantages in terms of cost, time, and patient convenience.
PMCID: PMC1003593  PMID: 3263087
22.  Investigation of the prevalence and clinical associations of antibodies to human fibronectin in systemic lupus erythematosus. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1995;54(2):117-124.
OBJECTIVES--To assess the prevalence of antibodies to human fibronectin (anti-Fn) in sera of patients with certain connective tissue diseases and to determine their association with disease activity and the pattern of organ involvement in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). METHODS--A capture enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed to quantify anti-Fn antibodies in serum samples from 65 patients with well characterised SLE, 50 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 15 with Behçet's disease (BD), 15 with systemic vasculitis and 36 healthy subjects. An anti-Fn antibody titre greater than mean + 3SD of the healthy control log values after back transformation to the normal scale was considered positive. Disease activity in SLE patients was scored using the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) Index. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), concentrations of anti-dsDNA antibody, soluble interleukin-2 receptors (sIL-2R), C3, C4, C3 degradation products (C3dg) and immunoglobulin, and antinuclear antibody (ANA) titres were measured in blood samples from SLE patients; neopterin concentration was measured in corresponding urine samples. RESULTS--Anti-Fn antibodies were found in 22 of 65 SLE patients (33.8%), seven of 50 with RA (14%), one of 15 with BD (6.6%) and none of the 15 subjects with vasculitis. Thirty SLE patients had active disease and 35 had inactive disease; their median anti-Fn concentrations were 117 u/ml (range 47-450) and 68 u/ml (range 17-334), respectively (p = 0.0001). The presence of anti-Fn did not correlate with immunoglobulin concentrations or ANA titres in these sera. No significant difference was found between SLE patients with disease activity in one major organ system compared with multiple organ involvement, as defined by BILAG (p = 0.19). However, patients with musculoskeletal manifestations had consistently greater anti-Fn concentrations compared with patients with other clinical manifestations. There were significant correlations between amounts of anti-Fn in SLE sera and ESR (rs = 0.25, p = 0.045), sIL-2R (rs = 0.28, p = 0.024) and urine neopterin (rs = 0.3, p = 0.016) but not with serum anti-dsDNA antibody titres, plasma C3, C3dg or C4. However multiple regression analysis showed a low significant correlation only with sIL-2R and BILAG score (p = 0.047 and 0.042, respectively). CONCLUSION--Anti-Fn antibodies were detected in 34% of SLE patients and in small proportions of RA and BD patients. An association between serum anti-Fn and disease activity in SLE has been identified and most SLE patients with musculoskeletal involvement had increased anti-Fn antibody concentrations.
PMCID: PMC1005533  PMID: 7702398
23.  Clinical, laboratory and health-related quality of life correlates of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Responder Index response: a post hoc analysis of the phase 3 belimumab trials 
Lupus Science & Medicine  2014;1(1):e000031.
Correlates of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) Responder Index (SRI) response with clinical trial end points were examined using pooled data from the Study of Belimumab in Subjects with SLE (BLISS) trials (N=1684).
Changes in clinical, laboratory and health-related quality of life measures from baseline at 52 weeks were compared between SRI responders (n=761) and non-responders (n=923).
More SRI responders than non-responders had ≥4-point (100% vs 3.8%) and ≥7-point (40.3% vs 1.3%) Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index reductions, no new British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) A and ≤1 new B scores (91.9% vs 35.9%), and a 25% reduction in corticosteroid dose decrease of 25% from >7.5 mg/d to ≤7.5 mg/d (25.5% vs 13.9%), and fewer had a corticosteroid increase from ≤7.5 mg/d to >7.5 mg/d (4.1% vs 21.3%; all p<0.001). More responders than non-responders had improved organ domains: Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (mean 1.45 vs 0.40), BILAG (2.00 vs 0.39), and greater improvement in Physician's Global Assessment (all p<0.001). Risks for developing any SLE flare or severe flare were reduced in responders by 42% and 87%, respectively (p<0.001). Responders reported greater improvements in Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form version 2 Physical and Mental Components and all domain scores, and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue score compared with non-responders (all p<0.001).
Overall, SRI response in patients with active, autoantibody-positive SLE was associated with improvements in clinical, laboratory and patient-reported outcome measures, indicating that SRI response was associated with a global benefit.
Trial registration number
NCT00424476; NCT00410384.
PMCID: PMC4225741  PMID: 25396065
Belimumab; Bilag; Facit-Fatigue; Health-Related Quality of Life; PGA
24.  Association of Serum Nitrate and Nitrite Levels With Longitudinal Assessments of Disease Activity and Damage in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Lupus Nephritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2008;58(1):263-272.
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.
PMCID: PMC2733831  PMID: 18163495
25.  Accuracy of spot urine protein creatinine ratio in measuring proteinuria in chronic kidney disease stage 3 and 4 
Indian Journal of Nephrology  2013;23(6):428-433.
We studied the accuracy of spot urine protein creatinine ratio (SpUr-PCR) to assess 24 h urine protein excretion (24 h-UP) in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). A total of 100 proteinuric CKD patients of stages 3 and 4 were studied. 24 h urine was collected to measure 24 h-UP and creatinine. A random day time urine sample was analyzed to measure the PCR. A formula to estimate 24 h creatinine excretion was derived from linear regression analysis and a correction factor was introduced to assess whether this improves the accuracy of the SpUr PCR in predicting 24 h-UP. Accuracy of the SpUr-PCR was assessed by Pearson's correlation, regression analysis, and Bland Altman analysis. Mean age was 51.85 ± 12 years and 81% of the patients were male. SpUr-PCR predicted 24 h-UP with good accuracy (r = 0.86 on a data transformed to a logarithmic scale, P < 0.001) and there was a good agreement between these two measures of proteinuria. However, SpUr-PCR was inaccurate in the subgroup with nephrotic range proteinuria (r = 0.35, P = 0.062), but when a correction factor for 24-h urine creatinine (24 h-UCr) was introduced, the accuracy of SpUr-PCR improved significantly in this group (r = 0.45, P = 0.013). Introduction of the correction factor improved the degree of agreement between these two measures in women, but not the correlation. Overall, SpUr-PCR accurately predicted 24 h-UP. Adding a correction factor for 24 h-UCr improved correlation in the subgroup of patients with the nephrotic range proteinuria and the degree of agreement in female patients, and hence may be used in expressing proteinuria measured by SpUr-PCR to improve its accuracy in them.
PMCID: PMC3841511  PMID: 24339521
Chronic kidney disease; creatinine excretion; proteinuria; urine protein creatinine ratio

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