Urinary CD4 T cells identify SLE patients with proliferative lupus nephritis and can be used to monitor treatment response

Philipp Enghard*, Claudia Rieder, Katharina Kopetschke, J. R. Klocke, Reinmar Undeutsch, Robert Biesen, Duska Dragun, Maik Gollasch, Udo Schneider, Karlfried Aupperle, Jens Y. Humrich, Falk Hiepe, Marina Backhaus, A. H. Radbruch, Gerd R. Burmester, Gabriela Riemekasten

*Corresponding author for this work
40 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Proliferative lupus nephritis (LN) is one of the major concerns in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Here we evaluate urinary CD4 T cells as a biomarker of active LN and indicator of treatment response. Methods Urinary CD3CD4 T cells were quantified using flow cytometry in 186 urine samples from 147 patients with SLE. Fourteen patients were monitored as follow-up. Thirty-one patients with other nephropathies and 20 healthy volunteers were included as controls. Results In SLE, urinary CD4 T cell counts ≥800/100 ml were observed exclusively in patients with active LN. Receiver operator characteristic analysis documented clear separation of SLE patients with active and non-active LN (area under the curve 0.9969). All patients with up-todate kidney biopsy results showing proliferative LN had high urinary CD4 T cell numbers. In patients monitored under therapy, normalisation of urinary CD4 T cell counts indicated lower disease activity and better renal function. In contrast, patients with persistence of, or increase in, urinary T cells displayed worse outcomes. Conclusions Urinary CD4 T cells are a highly sensitive and specific marker for detecting proliferative LN in patients with SLE. Furthermore, monitoring urinary CD4 T cells may help to identify treatment responders and treatment failure and enable patient-tailored therapy in the future.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)277-283
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 01.2014

Research Areas and Centers

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


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