Improved monitoring of clinical response in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus by longitudinal trend in soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1.
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BACKGROUND: To determine whether optimal use of serial measurements of serum levels of soluble cell adhesion molecules (CAM) can improve monitoring of disease activity in SLE. METHODS: Serum levels of soluble CAM and conventional SLE biomarkers were measured in serial samples (n = 80) from 21 SLE patients during and after flare and correlated in longitudinal analysis with disease activity determined by ECLAM score. Blood samples from a second cohort of 34 SLE patients were subject to flow cytometry to correlate serum biomarkers with B cell subsets. RESULTS: By adjusting for the baseline level (at the first visit), delta soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) showed stronger correlation with changes in ECLAM score and improved sensitivity and specificity for identifying SLE responders versus non-responders compared to conventional SLE biomarkers including anti-dsDNA antibody titre and complement C3. Multiple regression analysis identified delta sVCAM-1 as the best marker of SLE clinical response. sVCAM-1 levels were significantly correlated with CD95(+)CD27(+) activated memory B cells, CD95(+) plasmablasts and circulating plasma cell numbers in SLE patients. CONCLUSION: Subtracting a baseline level of sVCAM-1 for each individual substantially improved its utility as a biomarker. Delta sVCAM-1 was superior to conventional SLE biomarkers for monitoring changes in disease activity. This suggests that serial monitoring of serum sVCAM-1 trends should be considered in SLE patients to document responses to treatment. We hypothesise that the correlation between activated B cell subsets and circulating plasma cell numbers with soluble VCAM-1 serum levels in SLE may relate to the important role of VCAM-1 in B lymphocyte survival and maturation in bone marrow and secondary lymphoid tissues.