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Differentiating Between Activation via the Lectin or the Classical Complement Pathway in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

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Complement activation is a hallmark of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and can proceed through the classical (CP), lectin (LP), or alternative pathway (AP). When managing SLE patients, pathway-specific complement activation is rarely monitored as clinical assays are unavailable. In this study, we aim to differentiate between CP- or LP-mediated complement activation in SLE patients by quantifying pathway-specific protein complexes, namely C1s/C1-inhibitor (C1- INH) (CP-specific activation) and MASP-1/C1-INH (LP-specific activation). Levels for both complexes were assessed in 156 SLE patients and 50 controls using two newly developed ELISAs. We investigated whether pathway-specific complement activation was associated with disease activity and lupus nephritis (LN). Disease activity stratification was performed using SLEDAI scores assessed at inclusion. C1s/C1-INH concentrations were significantly increased in active SLE patients (SLEDAI ≥6) when compared to SLE patients with low disease activity (SLEDAI <6, p<0.01) and correlated with SLEDAI score (r=0.29, p<0.01). In active LN, MASP-1/C1-INH plasma concentrations were significantly increased compared to non-active LN (p=0.02). No differences in MASP-1/C1-INH plasma concentrations were observed between active SLE patients and patients with low disease activity (p=0.11), nor did we observe a significant correlation with disease activity (r=0.12, p=0.15). Our data suggest that the CP and the LP are activated in SLE. The CP is activated in active SLE disease, whereas activation of the LP might be more specific to disease manifestations like LN. Our results warrant further research into specific complement pathway activation in SLE patients to potentially improve specific targeted and tailored treatment approaches.

TidsskriftClinical and Experimental Immunology
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 5 jul. 2023

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© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Immunology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

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