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Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether incident proteinuria in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) was preceded by changes in blood lymphocytes and neutrophil counts and/or neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR). Method: SLE patients with no proteinuria before or at the time of classification were included. Longitudinal data on SLE manifestations, vital status, and SLE-associated medications were collected during clinical visits and chart review. Laboratory data were collected through a nationwide database. Lymphopenia, severe lymphopenia, and neutropenia were defined as values below 0.8 × 109, 0.5 × 109, and 2.0 × 109 cells/L, respectively. High NLR was defined as values above the median. Proteinuria was defined by at least two measurements of elevated urine protein excretion (> 0.5 g/day). Hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated by Cox modelling using time-dependent continuous and binary covariates based on multiple laboratory measurements adjusted for use of immunosuppressants. Results: In total, 260 SLE patients were available for the analysis, of whom 30 (12%) developed incident proteinuria following the diagnosis of SLE. Median follow-up time was 73.5 months. Lymphocyte and neutrophil counts, but not NLR, were associated with incident proteinuria. HRs for incident proteinuria were 2.71 for lymphopenia [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.20-6.11], 4.73 for severe lymphopenia (95% CI 1.93-11.59), and 2.54 for neutropenia (95% CI 1.14-5.65). Conclusion: Lymphopenia and neutropenia predicted the risk of first-time proteinuria independently of immunosuppressants.

Original publication




Journal article


Scandinavian journal of rheumatology

Publication Date



1 - 9


Copenhagen Lupus and Vasculitis Clinic, Center for Rheumatology and Spine Diseases, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital , Copenhagen , Denmark.