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Lupus. 2011 Apr;20(5):507-11. doi: 10.1177/0961203310383301. Epub 2010 Nov 15.

Elevation of serum CXCL13 in SLE as well as in sepsis.

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Department of Medicine/Nephrology, Hannover Medical School, Germany.


Recent studies have demonstrated that CXCL13 serum levels correlate significantly with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) disease activity. However, experimental studies show that CXCL13 production can also be induced by bacterial exposure as well as in response to inflammatory cytokines. This report asks whether CXCL13 serum levels are elevated in patients with evidence of bacterial infections and whether there is a correlation with the C-reactive protein (CRP) levels or the severity of illness in critically ill patients. CXCL13 levels were compared in 39 patients with active SLE (without concomitant infection), 40 non-SLE patients with sepsis, and 40 healthy controls by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) methodology. We also tested storage conditions and freeze-thaw cycles for stability of CXCL13 in serum samples. Our studies demonstrated that the median CXCL13 serum levels were significantly elevated in patients with SLE [median 83 pg/ml (interquartile range 38-366)] or sepsis [359 pg/ml (151-459)] compared with healthy controls [32 pg/ml (27-41), p < 0.001]. The CXCL13 serum levels correlated with disease activity in SLE (CXCL13 vs. SLEDAI r = 0.65, p < 0.001), but were not associated with severity of illness score in critically ill patients (CXCL13 vs. SOFA r = -0.15, p = 0.35). However, CXCL13 serum levels were clearly associated with CRP levels in both sepsis (r = 0.45, p = 0.003) and SLE (r = 0.39, p = 0.02). In conclusion, CXCL13 is a stable serum marker for disease activity in SLE patients, but concomitant infections can also lead to increased CXCL13 levels.

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