Neutrophil FcγRIIA availability is associated with disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus

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Background: Immune complexes (ICs) are detectable in a variety of inflammatory diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), reflecting autoantibody binding to antigens. Though ICs are the main contributors to disease pathogenesis through FcγR-mediated inflammation and organ damage, IC levels are not part of the clinical assessment of SLE. The aim of this study was to explore the clinical utility of analyzing levels of ICs in SLE patients using a novel technology, IC-FLOW. Methods: Paired serum samples, at the time point of high and low disease activity (n = 92), were analyzed using two assays: an IC ELISA from a commercial company and a novel in-house flow cytometry-based method, IC-FLOW. IC-FLOW measures FcγRIIA availability on the neutrophil cell surface by flow cytometry, whereas the commercial ELISA measures IC binding to C1q. Results: Using IC-FLOW, 90% of SLE patients with active disease had elevated levels of circulating ICs (p < 0.0001). Using the commercial assay, only 17% of SLE patients had elevated levels of circulating ICs. For both assays, levels of ICs reflected active disease as determined by SLEDAI (r = 0.45, p < 0.0001) and were associated with type I IFN activity (r = 0.37, p = 0.001), and complement consumption (p = 0.0002). Levels of ICs measured with IC-FLOW, but not with the commercial ELISA, were associated with active lupus nephritis (p = 0.004). Conclusions: This novel FcγRIIA-IC assay can detect levels of circulating ICs in patients with SLE. Analyzing IC levels may facilitate monitoring of disease activity, as well as identify patients at risk of lupus nephritis, allowing for early preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 29

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity
  • Immunology in the medical area

Free keywords

  • Biomarker
  • Immune complex
  • Interferon
  • Nephritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus


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