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Clinical phenotypes and prognosis of cytomegalovirus infection in the pediatric systemic lupus erythematosus: a longitudinal analysis.

BACKGROUND: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, it is not clear whether the anti-CMV treatment has an impact on the prognosis of SLE patients with CMV infection. We aimed to analyze the clinical characteristics and prognosis of CMV infection in pediatric SLE (pSLE) and to evaluate the effect of anti-CMV treatment on pSLE outcome.

METHODS: A retrospective study including 146 pSLE from 2012 to 2021 was conducted. CMV-positive and CMV-negative groups were compared by univariate analysis and stepwise logistic multiple regression to analyze the clinical characteristics of CMV infection in pSLE. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to model the longitudinal dynamics of pSLE disease activity with or without CMV infection and anti-CMV treatment.

RESULTS: The CMV infection rate was 74.7% (109/146) in this pSLE cohort. CMV-positive pSLE patients were more likely to present positive anti-dsDNA antibody, hypocomplementemia, high SLEDAI-2K score and musculoskeletal involvement (P < 0.05). Survival analysis showed that CMV-positive pSLE patients were more prone to disease flare and poorer outcomes. GEE modeling indicated that CMV phosphoprotein 65 (pp65) titers were positively correlated with SLEDAI-2K, and anti-CMV treatment could better reduce pSLE activity than non-treatment (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: CMV infection is highly prevalent among pSLE patients. Positive anti-dsDNA antibody, hypocomplementemia, high SLEDAI-2K score and musculoskeletal involvement were significant clinical clues indicating CMV infections in pSLE. CMV infection is correlated with higher disease activity and poorer outcome. Anti-CMV treatment can reduce disease activity and flares.

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