High disease activity status suggests more severe disease and damage accrual in systemic lupus erythematosus

Rachel Koelmeyer, Hieu Tri Nim, Mandana Nikpour, Ying B. Sun, Amy Kao, Oliver Guenther, Eric Morand, Alberta Hoi

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Disease severity in SLE is an important concept related to disease activity, treatment burden and prognosis. We set out to evaluate if high disease activity status (HDAS), based on ever attainment of a Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) disease activity score of ≥10, is an indicator for disease severity in SLE. Methods Using prospectively collected data, we assessed the association of HDAS with sociodemographic and disease characteristics and adverse clinical outcomes using logistic regression or generalised estimating equations. Results Of 286 patients with SLE, who were observed for a median (range) of 5.1 years (1-10.8 years), 43.7% experienced HDAS at least once during the observational period. Autoantibody positivity, particularly anti-dsDNA and anti-Sm positivity, were associated with increased likelihood of HDAS. Age ≥45 years at diagnosis was associated with reduced likelihood of HDAS (p=0.002). Patients with HDAS had higher Physician Global Assessment score (>1: OR 8.1, p<0.001) and were more likely to meet criteria for flare (mild/moderate flare: OR 4.4, p<0.001; severe flare: OR 17.2, p<0.001) at the time of experiencing HDAS. They were also more likely to have overall higher disease activity, as defined by time-adjusted mean SLEDAI-2K score in the highest quartile (OR 11.7, 95% CI 5.1 to 26.6; p>0.001), higher corticosteroid exposure (corticosteroid dose in highest quartile: OR 7.7, 95% CI 3.9 to 15.3; p<0.001) and damage accrual (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.3 to 3.9; p=0.003) when compared with non-HDAS patients. Conclusions HDAS is associated with more severe disease, as measured by higher disease activity across time, corticosteroid exposure and damage accrual. The occurrence of HDAS may be a useful prognostic marker in the management of SLE.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000372
Number of pages9
JournalLupus Science and Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2020


  • autoimmune diseases
  • disease activity
  • systemic lupus erythematosus

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