The search for lupus biomarkers to diagnose, monitor, stratify, and predict individual response to therapy is currently more intense than ever before. This effort is essential for several reasons. First, epidemic overdiagnosis and underdiagnosis of lupus, even by certified rheumatologists, leads to errors in therapy with concomitant side effects which may be more serious than the disease itself. Second, identification of lupus flares remains as much an art as it is a science. Third, the capacity to stratify patients so as to predict those who will develop specific patterns of organ involvement is not currently possible but would potentially lead to preventive therapeutic strategies. Fourth, only one new drug for the treatment of lupus has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in over 50 years. A major obstacle in this pipeline is the dearth of biomarkers available to prove a patient has responded to an experimental therapeutic intervention. This review will summarize the challenges faced in the discovery and validation of lupus biomarkers, the most promising lupus biomarkers identified to date, and the promise of future directions.
Keywords: SLE; biomarker; lupus; systemic lupus erythematosus.