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Challenges of achieving clinical remission in a national cohort of juvenile-onset systemic lupus erythematosus patients

Author

Abdelrahman N1, Beresford MW2,3, Leone V1; UK Juvenile-onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Study Group. Lupus. 2019 Apr;28(5):667-674. doi: 10.1177/0961203319840699. Epub 2019 Apr 3.

Author Information

1 Department of Paediatric Rheumatology, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK.

2 Department of Women's and Children's Health, Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.

3 Department of Paediatric Rheumatology, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: 

The multisystem involvement and variable course of juvenile-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (JSLE) make it difficult to assess disease activity over time. International consensus definitions of inactive disease and clinical remission have been proposed. The aim of this study was to determine the proportion of patients meeting these criteria in a large national cohort of JSLE patients and the association between achieving inactive disease and clinical remission with disease activity at presentation and time to diagnosis.

METHODS: 

Patients diagnosed with JSLE aged ≤17 years with a minimum of 12 months follow-up participating in the UK JSLE Cohort Study were assessed against these criteria at baseline, 1 year and final clinic visit.

RESULTS: 

A total of 218 patients with mean follow-up duration of 4.7 years were included and analyzed at baseline visit, of which 93 and 209 were available for analysis at the 1-year and the last follow-up visits, respectively. Eighty-five percent at 1 year and 62% at final follow-up still had active disease while only 6% and 9%, respectively, achieved inactive disease according to the proposed criteria. The majority of patients continued to require immunosuppressive treatment despite their prolonged follow-up with only two patients achieving clinical remission on medication and none off medication. A large number of patients did not meet the criteria for inactive disease due to isolated laboratory abnormalities such as reduced lymphocyte count. Isolated low lymphocyte count was the reason for not fulfilling the inactive disease criteria in 20/79 (25%) patients at 1 year and 14/130 (11%) patients at final follow-up visit. No statistically significant differences in relation to time to diagnosis and disease activity at presentation were found between patients achieving inactive disease compared to those who did not, at 1 year and final follow-up.

CONCLUSION: 

The majority of patients failed to achieve the proposed criteria for inactive disease and continued to require immunosuppressive treatment. This reflects the high burden of disease in JSLE despite immunosuppressive therapy. A significant proportion of patients had isolated laboratory abnormalities of potentially limited clinical significance, suggesting that some modifications of the proposed criteria may be required.