Clinical journal of the American Society of Nephrology : CJASN

Relationship of Circulating Anti-C3b and Anti-C1q IgG to Lupus Nephritis and Its Flare.

PMID 26700439


Autoantibodies to complement C1q (anti-C1q) are associated with the diagnosis of lupus nephritis. In this study, we compare anti-C1q IgG with another complement autoantibody, anti-C3b IgG, as a biomarker of lupus nephritis and lupus nephritis flare. Our investigation involved the Ohio SLE Study, a prospective observational cohort of patients with recurrently active lupus who were followed bimonthly. Serum anti-C1q and anti-C3b IgG levels were assessed cross-sectionally by ELISA in 40 normal controls and 114 patients in the Ohio SLE Study (41 nonrenal and 73 lupus nephritis) at study entry, and longitudinally in a subset of patients in the Ohio SLE Study with anti-C1q-positive lupus nephritis in samples collected every 2 months for 8 months leading up to lupus nephritis flare (n=16 patients). In the cross-sectional analysis, compared with anti-C1q IgG, anti-C3b IgG was less sensitive (36% versus 63%) but more specific (98% versus 71%) for lupus nephritis. Only anti-C3b IgG was associated with patients with lupus nephritis who experienced at least one lupus nephritis flare during the Ohio SLE Study period (P<0.01). In the longitudinal analysis, circulating levels of anti-C1q IgG increased at the time of lupus nephritis flare only in patients who were anti-C3b positive (P=0.02), with significant increases occurring from 6 (38% increase) and 4 months (41% increase) before flare. Anti-C3b IgG levels also trended up at lupus nephritis flare, although the change did not reach statistical significance (P=0.07). Neither autoantibody increased 2 months before flare. Although not as prevalent as anti-C1q IgG, anti-C3b IgG showed nearly complete specificity for lupus nephritis. The presence of anti-C3b IgG identified patients with lupus nephritis who were prone to flare and in whom serial measurements of markers associated with complement, such as anti-C1q IgG, may be useful to monitor lupus nephritis activity.