Introduction: Although renal pathology is highly predictive of the disease course in lupus nephritis, it cannot be performed serially because of its invasive nature and associated morbidity. The goal of this study is to investigate whether urinary levels of CXC ligand 16 (CXCL16), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) or vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) in patients with lupus nephritis are predictive of particular features of renal pathology in renal biopsies obtained on the day of urine procurement.
Methods: CXCL16, MCP-1, and VCAM-1 levels were measured in urine samples from 74 lupus nephritis patients and 13 healthy volunteers. Of the patients enrolled, 24 patients had a concomitant kidney biopsy performed at the time of urine collection. In addition, patients with other renal diatheses were also included as controls.
Results: All three molecules were elevated in the urine of systemic lupus erythematosus patients, although VCAM-1 (area under curve = 0.92) and MCP-1 (area under curve = 0.87) were best at distinguishing the systemic lupus erythematosus samples from the healthy controls, and were also most strongly associated with clinical disease severity and active renal disease. For patients in whom concurrent renal biopsies had also been performed, urine VCAM-1 exhibited the strongest association with the renal pathology activity index and glomerulonephritis class IV, although it correlated negatively with the chronicity index. Interestingly, urinary VCAM-1 was also elevated in anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies-associated glomerulonephritis, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and membranous nephropathy but not in minimal-change disease.
Conclusion: Urinary VCAM-1 emerges as a reliable indicator of the activity:chronicity ratios that mark the underlying renal pathology in lupus nephritis. Since VCAM-1 is involved in the acute phase of inflammation when leukocytic infiltration is ongoing, longitudinal studies are warranted to establish whether tracking urine VCAM-1 levels may help monitor clinical and pathological disease activity over time.