Assessment of clinical manifestations, disease activity and organ damage in 996 Korean patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: comparison with other Asian populations

Young Bin Joo, Sang Cheol Bae
International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 2015, 18 (2): 117-28

AIM: To describe the clinical manifestations, disease activity and organ damage in Korean patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

METHOD: American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria, SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI), and Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/ACR damage index (SDI) were assessed in patients with SLE from 1998 to 2012.

RESULTS: A total of 996 SLE patients were analyzed. The common accrual of ACR criteria included: immunologic (93%), hematologic (93%), arthritic (66%) and nephritic (50%). In the inception cohort over 10 years of follow-up (n = 120), the number of ACR criteria increased significantly (5.0 ± 1.2 to 5.7 ± 1.3), and nephritis, serositis and neuropsychiatric symptoms tended to increase continuously over time. SLEDAI-2K decreased significantly (5.6 ± 3.4 to 4.1 ± 1.2), but the percentage of patients with SLEDAI scores ≥ 12 did not decrease over time. The common organ damages were musculoskeletal (14.9%) and renal (11.1%). The mean SDI score increased significantly (0.4 ± 0.8 to 1.1 ± 1.6) and renal damage had two peaks in 1 and 6-10 years, musculoskeletal and neuropsychiatric damage were predominant from 1 to 5 years, and ophthalmic damage increased sharply over 10 years.

CONCLUSION: Compared to other Asian cohorts, disease activity was lower and organ damage was less in our Korean cohort. Nephritis, serositis and neuropsychiatric symptoms increased continuously over time. Overall disease activity decreased significantly, but a small portion of severe disease activity continued during the disease course. The most common organ damage was musculoskeletal. The time in organ damage development varied, which reflects the possible causality, such as disease itself and/or treatment.

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