Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a severe chronic inflammatory autoimmune connective tissue disease. Despite major efforts, SLE remains a poorly understood disease with unpredictable course, unknown etiology and complex pathogenesis. Apoptosis combined with deficiency in clearing apoptotic cells is an important etiopathogenic event in SLE, which could contribute to the increased load of potential autoantigen(s); however, the lack of disease-specific protein signatures deciphering SLE and the underlying biological processes is striking and represents a key limitation. In this retrospective pilot study, we explored the immune system as a specific sensor for disease, in order to advance our understanding of SLE. To this end, we determined multiplexed serum protein expression profiles of crude SLE serum samples, using antibody microarrays. The aim was to identify differential immunoprofiles, or snapshots of the immune response modulated by the disease, reflecting apoptosis, a key process in the etiology of SLE and disease activity. The results showed that multiplexed panels of SLE-associated serum biomarkers could be decoded, in particular reflecting disease activity, but potentially the apoptosis process as well. While the former biomarkers could display a potential future use for prognosis, the latter biomarkers might help shed further light on the apoptosis process taking place in SLE.
Keywords: Antibody microarray; apoptosis; autoantibodies; biomarker; disease activity; systemic lupus erythematosus.