The cellular signature of urinary immune cells in Lupus nephritis: New insights into potential biomarkers

Katharina Kopetschke, Jan Klocke, Anna Sophie Grießbach, Jens Y. Humrich, Robert Biesen, Duska Dragun, Gerd Rüdiger Burmester, Philipp Enghard*, Gabriela Riemekasten

*Corresponding author for this work
31 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Urinary T cells represent a reliable noninvasive biomarker for proliferative Lupus nephritis (LN). Little is known about the presence of T cell subsets, B cells and macrophages in the urine although they may further improve the validity of urinary cellular biomarkers for LN. Methods: We analyzed contemporaneous blood and urine samples of patients with active LN (n = 19), other Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) patients (n = 79) and urine samples of patients with diabetic nephropathy (DN; n = 14) and anti-neutrophil cytoplasmatic antibody (ANCA) associated vasculitis (AAV; n = 11) by flow cytometry. Results: Numbers of urinary T cells, B cells and macrophages correlated with disease activity and were significantly higher in the active LN group. Urinary T cells showed excellent distinction of patients with active LN, CD8+ T cells (AUC of ROC = 1.000) and CD4+ T cells (AUC = 0.9969) alike. CD19+ B cells (AUC = 0.7823) and CD14+ macrophages (AUC = 0.9066), as well as the clinical standard proteinuria (AUC = 0.9201), failed to reach these high standards. Patients with DN or AAV also showed increased urinary cell counts, although the CD4/CD8-ratio was significantly lower in SLE compared to in DN (p = 0.0006). Urinary CD4+ T cells of active LN patients proved to be mainly of effector memory phenotype and expressed significantly more CD40L and ki67 than corresponding blood cells. Urinary Treg counts correlated with disease activity. Conclusions: Despite of detectable urinary cell counts for B cells and macrophages, T cells remain the best urinary cellular biomarker for LN. A low CD4/CD8-ratio seems to be characteristic for LN.

Original languageEnglish
Article number94
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 03.04.2015

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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