When studying biomarkers of lupus nephritis, researchers at the University of Houston discovered something interesting: race-based differences. Biomarkers are some sort of measurable substance; in this case, urinary proteins. However, the researchers found that certain proteins existed only in African-American, Asian, or Caucasian patients (and not the rest). Find the full study results in Nature Communications.
Lupus nephritis is characterized as kidney inflammation, resulting from a complication in patients with lupus, an autoimmune disorder. The immune system mistakenly attacks the body, causing pain, inflammation, and other health-related issues.
For patients with lupus nephritis, the lupus autoantibodies attack the kidneys. Normally, kidneys filter waste out of the body. But when the autoantibodies attack, patients develop inflammation, high blood pressure, and even kidney failure. Lupus nephritis is most common in women.
Symptoms include joint pain and swelling, a butterfly-shaped facial rash, fever, foamy or dark urine, swelling, and excess protein in the urine. Want to learn more? Read here.
Researchers screened urine from 375 individuals for 1,129 potential protein biomarkers. Out of the patients, 19.7% (74 patients) were healthy. 17.8% (67 patients) had active non-renal lupus. 28.5% (107 patients) had lupus nephritis. Finally, 33.8% (127 patients) had inactive lupus.
They wanted to explore biomarkers over a racial spectrum. This is because no prior studies linked demographics with disease progression or specific biomarkers; as such, results may not be as accurate.
The findings showed that certain races had “discriminatory” biomarkers, or biomarkers that identified whether the disease state was active or inactive. These differed based on race: Asian, Caucasian, and African-American. For example, African-American patients with active lupus nephritis had VCAM-1, properdin, PF-4, and urine ALCAM.
By targeting these biomarkers, drug therapies can prevent disease progression and reduce symptom severity. Moving forward, the researchers hope to perform additional studies. The goal of these studies is two-fold: identify specific biomarkers across racial strata, and understand how to use these biomarkers to predict disease exacerbation.
Read the original article on Medical XPress.