Objectives: The difficulty of monitoring organ-specific pathology in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) often complicates disease prognostication and treatment. Improved non-invasive biomarkers of active organ pathology, particularly lupus nephritis, would improve patient care. We sought to validate and apply a novel strategy to generate the first comprehensive serum proteome of a lupus mouse model and identify mechanism-linked lupus biomarker candidates for subsequent clinical investigation. Methods: Serum levels of 1308 diverse proteins were measured in eight adult female MRL/lpr lupus mice and eight control MRL/mpj mice. ELISA validation confirmed fold increases. Protein enrichment analysis provided biological relevance to findings. Individual protein levels were correlated with measures of lymphoproliferative, humoral, and renal disease. Results: Four hundred and six proteins were increased in MRL/lpr serum, including proteins increased in human SLE such as VCAM-1, L-selectin, TNFRI/II, TWEAK, CXCL13, MCP-1, IP-10, IL-10, and TARC. Newly validated proteins included IL-6, IL-17, and MDC. Results of pathway enrichment analysis, which revealed enhancement of cytokine signaling and immune cell migration, reinforced the similarity of the MRL/lpr disease to human pathology. Fifty-two proteins positively correlated with at least one measure of lupus-like disease. TECK, TSLP, PDGFR-alpha, and MDC were identified as novel candidate biomarkers of renal disease. Conclusions: We successfully validated a novel serum proteomic screening strategy in a spontaneous murine lupus model that highlighted potential new biomarkers. Importantly, we generated a comprehensive snapshot of the serum proteome which will enable identification of other candidates and serve as a reference for future mechanistic and therapeutic studies in lupus.
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- Lupus nephritis
- Mouse models