Clinical and experimental rheumatology

Low adenosine triphosphate activity in CD4+ cells predicts infection in patients with lupus nephritis.

PMID 24564990


The ImmuKnow (Cylex) assay has been reported to predict the risk of infection in some diseases; however, it is uncertain whether ImmuKnow can predict the risk of infection in lupus nephritis (LN) patients receiving immunosuppressive therapy. The ImmuKnow Immune Cell Function Assay (Cylex, Inc., Columbia, MD, USA) was applied to measure the activity of CD4+ T cells, as a marker of global immune-competence. The correlation between changes in T cell activation and the relative risk of over-immunosuppression as well as infection was studied. The amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) produced by CD4+ T cells in response to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) was measured for 74 LN patients without infection, 22 LN patients with severe infection (i.e. required hospitalisation), and 28 healthy controls. No correlation was found between the ATP level and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) activity. The mean ATP level was significantly lower in LN patients with infection than that in healthy controls (p<0.01) and non-infected LN patients (p<0.01). The mean ATP level in non-infected LN patients was not significantly different compared to healthy controls. A cut-off ATP value of 300 ng/mL predicted infection in LN patients with a specificity of 77% and a sensitivity of 77%. Multi-variable partial correlation coefficient between the ATP assay and severe infection was r =-0.040, p<0.001; CRP was r=0.962, p<0.001. The ImmuKnow assay may be effective in identifying an increased risk of infection in LN patients but is not correlated with SLE activity. Combined CRP value will increase the diagnostic rate of severe infection in SLE. Larger studies are required to establish clinical advantages of this assay in SLE treatment.