Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease characterized by unpredictable flares of disease activity and irreversible damage to multiple organ systems. An earlier study showed that SLE patients carrying an interferon gene expression signature in blood have elevated serum levels of interferon (IFN)-regulated chemokines. These chemokines were associated with more severe and active disease and showed promise as SLE disease activity biomarkers. This study was designed to validate IFN regulated chemokines as biomarkers of SLE disease activity in 267 longitudinally-followed SLE patients.
To validate the potential utility of serum chemokine levels as biomarkers for disease activity, we measured serum chemokine levels – CXCL10 (IP-10), CCL2 (MCP-1), and CCL19 (MIP-3B) – in an independent cohort of 267 SLE patients followed longitudinally over one year (1166 total visits).
Serum chemokine levels correlated with current visit lupus activity (p=2×10−10), rising at flare (p=1×10−3) and decreasing as disease remitted (p=1×10−3), and performed better than currently available laboratory tests. Chemokine levels measured at a single baseline visit in patients with SLEDAI ≤4 were predictive of lupus flare over the ensuing year (p=6×10−4).
Monitoring serum chemokine levels in SLE may improve assessment of current disease activity, the prediction of future flare, and overall clinical decision-making.