Metabolic profiling of systemic lupus erythematosus and comparison with primary Sjögren's syndrome and systemic sclerosis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease which can affect most organ systems including skin, joints and the kidney. Clinically, SLE is a heterogeneous disease and shares features of several other rheumatic diseases, in particular primary Sjögrens syndrome (pSS) and systemic sclerosis (SSc), why it is difficult to diagnose The pathogenesis of SLE is not completely understood, partly due to the heterogeneity of the disease. This study demonstrates that metabolomics can be used as a tool for improved diagnosis of SLE compared to other similar autoimmune diseases. We observed differences in metabolic profiles with a classification specificity above 67% in the comparison of SLE with pSS, SSc and a matched group of healthy individuals. Selected metabolites were also significantly different between studied diseases. Biochemical pathway analysis was conducted to gain understanding of underlying pathways involved in the SLE pathogenesis. We found an increased oxidative activity in SLE, supported by increased xanthine oxidase activity and an increased turnover in the urea cycle. The most discriminatory metabolite observed was tryptophan, with decreased levels in SLE patients compared to control groups. Changes of tryptophan levels were related to changes in the activity of the aromatic amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) and/or to activation of the kynurenine pathway.


  • Anders A. Bengtsson
  • Johan Trygg
  • Dirk M. Wuttge
  • Gunnar Sturfelt
  • Elke Theander
  • Magdalena Donten
  • Thomas Moritz
  • Carl Johan Sennbro
  • Frida Torell
  • Christian Lood
  • Izabella Surowiec
  • Stefan Rännar
  • Torbjörn Lundstedt
External organisations
  • Umeå University
  • AcureOmics AB
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Leo Pharma A/S
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0159384
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jul 1
Publication categoryResearch