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OBJECTIVES: A novel longitudinal clustering technique was applied to comprehensive autoantibody data from a large, well-characterised, multinational inception systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) cohort to determine profiles predictive of clinical outcomes. METHODS: Demographic, clinical and serological data from 805 patients with SLE obtained within 15 months of diagnosis and at 3-year and 5-year follow-up were included. For each visit, sera were assessed for 29 antinuclear antibodies (ANA) immunofluorescence patterns and 20 autoantibodies. K-means clustering on principal component analysis-transformed longitudinal autoantibody profiles identified discrete phenotypic clusters. One-way analysis of variance compared cluster enrolment demographics and clinical outcomes at 10-year follow-up. Cox proportional hazards model estimated the HR for survival adjusting for age of disease onset. RESULTS: Cluster 1 (n=137, high frequency of anti-Smith, anti-U1RNP, AC-5 (large nuclear speckled pattern) and high ANA titres) had the highest cumulative disease activity and immunosuppressants/biologics use at year 10. Cluster 2 (n=376, low anti-double stranded DNA (dsDNA) and ANA titres) had the lowest disease activity, frequency of lupus nephritis and immunosuppressants/biologics use. Cluster 3 (n=80, highest frequency of all five antiphospholipid antibodies) had the highest frequency of seizures and hypocomplementaemia. Cluster 4 (n=212) also had high disease activity and was characterised by multiple autoantibody reactivity including to antihistone, anti-dsDNA, antiribosomal P, anti-Sjögren syndrome antigen A or Ro60, anti-Sjögren syndrome antigen B or La, anti-Ro52/Tripartite Motif Protein 21, antiproliferating cell nuclear antigen and anticentromere B). Clusters 1 (adjusted HR 2.60 (95% CI 1.12 to 6.05), p=0.03) and 3 (adjusted HR 2.87 (95% CI 1.22 to 6.74), p=0.02) had lower survival compared with cluster 2. CONCLUSION: Four discrete SLE patient longitudinal autoantibody clusters were predictive of long-term disease activity, organ involvement, treatment requirements and mortality risk.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Rheum Dis

Publication Date





927 - 936


autoantibodies, autoimmunity, systemic lupus erythematosus, Humans, Autoantibodies, Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic, Antibodies, Antinuclear, DNA, Immunosuppressive Agents, Machine Learning