A noninvasive means to predict the onset and recurrence of lupus nephritis (LN) before overt renal injury is needed to optimize and individualize treatment. Colony-stimulating factor-1 (CSF-1) is expressed by kidney tubules at the onset of LN, increases with disease progression, and spills into the circulation in lupus-prone mice. We tested the hypothesis that amplifi ed expression of CSF-1 detected in the serum or urine correlates with intrarenal CSF-1 expression and histopathology (increased macrophage accumulation, activity indices) and clinical kidney disease activity and predicts the onset and recurrence of nephritis in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We found increased serum or urine CSF-1 levels in patients with cutaneous, serositis, and musculoskeletal disease; however, the increase in CSF-1 levels was far greater in LN. Moreover, an elevation in serum or urine CSF-1 levels correlated with increasing intrarenal CSF-1 expression and histopathology. By longitudinally tracking patients, we found that elevated serum CSF-1 heralded the initial onset of disease, and a rise in serum or urine CSF-1 predicted recurrences of LN before clinical evidence of glomerular dysfunction and conventional serologic measures, even in patients with other manifestations of SLE. These findings indicate that serial monitoring for a rise in serumor urine CSF-1 levels in patients with SLE reflects kidney histopathology andmay predict renal disease activity and the onset and recurrence of LN more accurately than conventional laboratory measures.
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