Associations of the Levels of C4d-bearing Reticulocytes and High-avidity Anti-dsDNA Antibodies with Disease Activity in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Claudia Mora, Jorge Medina-Rosas, Ana Maria Santos, Diego A Jaimes, Ana M Arbeláez, Consuelo Romero, Annie Cortes, John Londono
Journal of Rheumatology 2016, 43 (9): 1657-64

OBJECTIVE: There are no laboratory tools that detect early flares in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Our aim was to validate in our population the previous findings of the association of C4d-bearing reticulocytes (R-C4d) compared to anti-dsDNA antibodies, with disease activity assessed by the Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SELENA-SLEDAI) and the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) 2004 scales.

METHODS: All patients who met the 1987 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria and were seen consecutively in 2013 at a specialized SLE care clinic were included. Disease activity was established by the SELENA-SLEDAI and BILAG 2004. Anti-dsDNA and R-C4d were quantified in peripheral blood. Comparisons were made between values of active and inactive patients, and the correlations between the SELENA-SLEDAI and serum levels of anti-dsDNA and R-C4d were measured.

RESULTS: Sixty-two patients (83.9% women) were included. A total of 32.3% had active disease according to the SELENA-SLEDAI. There was a significant statistical difference (p = 0.0001) in the distribution of R-C4d between disease activity groups. The correlation coefficient between R-C4d and the SELENA-SLEDAI score was rs = 0.738 (p = 0.0001). R-C4d differed between patients with and without activity in the BILAG 2004 constitutional, mucocutaneous, gastrointestinal, renal, and hematological domains.

CONCLUSION: R-C4d showed a higher correlation with SLE activity measured by the SELENA-SLEDAI and BILAG 2004 than anti-dsDNA did, suggesting a possible involvement in diagnosing disease activity. Prospective studies that confirm these findings and evaluate its involvement in followup are needed.

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