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Open Access Research article

Association of elevated transcript levels of interferon-inducible chemokines with disease activity and organ damage in systemic lupus erythematosus patients

Qiong Fu12, Xiaoqing Chen12, Huijuan Cui12, Yanzhi Guo1, Jing Chen1, Nan Shen12* and Chunde Bao1*

Author affiliations

1 Shanghai Institute of Rheumatology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shan Dong Middle Road, Shanghai 200001, PR China

2 Molecular Rheumatology Laboratory, Institute of Health Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Chong Qing South Road, Shanghai 200025, PR China

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Citation and License

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2008, 10:R112  doi:10.1186/ar2510


See related editorial by Crow and Kirou, http://arthritis-research.com/content/10/6/126

Published: 15 September 2008

Abstract

Introduction

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multi-system autoimmune disease with a heterogeneous course and varying degrees of severity and organ damage; thus, there is increasing interest in identifying biomarkers for SLE. In this study we correlated the combined expression level of multiple interferon-inducible chemokines with disease activity, degree of organ damage and clinical features in SLE, and we investigated their roles as biomarkers.

Methods

Peripheral blood cells obtained from 67 patients with SLE patients, 20 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and 23 healthy donors were subjected to real-time PCR in order to measure the transcriptional levels of seven interferon-inducible chemokines (RANTES, MCP-1, CCL19, MIG, IP-10, CXCL11, and IL-8). The data were used to calculate a chemokine score for each participant, after which comparisons were performed between various groups of SLE patients and control individuals.

Results

Chemokine scores were significantly elevated in SLE patients versus RA patients and healthy donors (P = 0.012 and P = 0.002, respectively). Chemokine scores were correlated positively with SLE Disease Activity Index 2000 scores (P = 0.005) and negatively with C3 levels (P < 0.001). Compared with patients without lupus nephritis and those with inactive lupus nephritis, chemokine scores were elevated in patients with active lupus nephritis, especially when their daily prednisone dosage was under 30 mg (P = 0.002 and P = 0.014, respectively). Elevated chemokine scores were also associated with the presence of cumulative organ damage (Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American Society of Rheumatology Damage Index ≥ 1; P = 0.010) and the occurrence of anti-Sm or anti-RNP autoantibodies (both P = 0.021).

Conclusions

The combined transcription level of interferon-inducible chemokines in peripheral blood leucocytes is closely associated with disease activity, degree of organ damage, and specific autoantibody patterns in SLE. The chemokine score may serve as a new biomarker for active and severe disease in SLE.