Progressive reduction of serum complement levels: a risk factor for relapse in patients with hypocomplementemia in systemic lupus erythematosus

Y. Miyawaki, Kenei Sada, Y. Asano, K. Hayashi, Y. Yamamura, S. Hiramatsu, K. Ohashi, Michiko Morishita, Haruki Watanabe, Yoshinori Matsumoto, T. Kawabata, Jun Wada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Serologically active clinically quiescent (SACQ)-SLE is a subtype of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); most SACQ-SLE patients relapse. Although complement and/or anti-dsDNA level fluctuations during SACQ status are reportedly not useful for predicting relapse, they might be useful in specific clinical settings. We aimed to assess the correlation between future relapse and progressive reductions in serum complement levels following remission in patients with hypocomplementemia. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed patients aged ≥15 years who were treated with ≥20 mg/day of prednisolone for remission induction. After achieving remission, the patients treated with prednisolone tapered to ≤15 mg/day without relapse and followed by hypocomplementemia (first hypocomplementemia point) were analyzed. The primary outcome was the relapse during the first 24 months. Results: Seventy-six patients were enrolled; 31 (40.8%) relapsed. A ≥10% reduction after the first hypocomplementemia point in serum C3, C4, and CH50 levels was found in 10, 21, and 16 patients, respectively. Hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) for relapse were 2.32 (0.92–5.12) for serum C3 levels and 2.46 (1.18–5.01) for serum C4 levels. Progressive reductions in serum C3 and C4 levels had relatively high specificity (93.3% and 82.2%) but limited sensitivity (22.6% and 41.9%) for predicting relapse. However, simultaneous progressive reduction in C3 levels and increase in anti-dsDNA antibody levels had the highest specificity (97.8%), and simultaneous progressive reduction in C4 levels or increase in anti-dsDNA antibody levels had the highest sensitivity (71.0%). Conclusion: Simultaneous progressive reductions in complement levels and increases in anti-dsDNA antibody levels may indicate future relapse SACQ-SLE patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2093-2100
Number of pages8
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2018



  • anti-dsDNA antibodies
  • hypocomplementemia
  • progressive reduction
  • relapse
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology

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