INTRODUCTION: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease with heterogeneous manifestations. Of particular importance for clinicians are the precise assessment of disease activity and the ability to make appropriate therapeutic decisions. Therefore, interest has increased in biomarkers that can be measured as indicators of pathogenic processes, disease activity and response to management.
AREAS COVERED: This article introduces well-studied, as well as newly discovered, biomarkers related to SLE, divided into categories for diagnosis, disease activity and organ involvement.
EXPERT OPINION: The lack of reliable biomarkers for lupus hampers the assessment of disease activity and impedes the evaluation of treatment response. Although many reports of lupus biomarkers have been published, few longitudinal and interventional studies have validated the utility of any biomarker for monitoring disease activity. Consortiums of investigators will certainly help in recruiting sufficient number of patients and facilitating the development of standardized assays. Moreover, owing to the multifactorial nature of lupus, a multiplexed approach will clearly be essential. Another promising approach is the use of high-throughput technology, including DNA and antibody microarrays, flow cytometry and proteomic techniques.
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