Faculty Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Zucker School of Medicine

Blood markers identify lupus risk

Dr. Betty Diamond (center) with Zucker School of Medicine students.
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MANHASSET, NY – Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell professor of molecular medicine, Betty Diamond, MD, and colleagues at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research discovered what they believe can identify a person’s risk for lupus by looking at the presence and amount of antibodies and a protein complex in blood. Health care professionals could now feasibly use these markers to anticipate which lupus patients might benefit from early interventions, or might be at risk of an impending flare. These findings are published in the open-access journal Molecular Medicine.

Dr. Diamond and colleagues developed an index that identifies the risk for lupus based on the presence and amount of Immunoglobin G (IgG) and Immunoglobin M (IgM) antibodies and levels of C1q, a protein complex associated with protection from lupus, in blood serum. To compare potential biomarkers of lupus, or systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE), among women with different SLE risks, the authors analyzed blood serum samples from five cohorts: 40 Malian (West African) women with a history of malaria infection (MAL), 51 African American lupus patients (SLE), 80 healthy African American women (AAHC), 98 unaffected sisters of lupus patients (SIS), and 16 Caucasian healthy controls (CHC).

“We have been curious about why individuals of West African descent have a higher prevalence of lupus,” said Dr. Diamond, the corresponding author of the paper. “A better understanding about the risk of lupus and why it differs between populations could help us better treat or even prevent people from getting the condition.”

Feinstein Institute researchers found that the risk index they studied was highest in SLE patients; second highest in unaffected sisters of SLE patients; third highest in healthy African-American women and lowest in healthy Caucasian women and malaria-exposed West African women. From this, they can confirm known lupus risk as well as their hypothesis that high levels of IgG, low levels of IgM (and the resulting high IgG to IgM ratio) and low levels of C1q predispose to lupus. The results also confirm that exposure to malaria results in increased levels of protective IgM antibodies and C1q, which may delay onset of lupus in genetically predisposed individuals.

“Dr. Diamond’s is a recognized leader in lupus research,” noted Kevin J. Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute and associate dean for research at the Zucker School of Medicine. “Now her discovery of blood markers to assess disease risk also gives new insights into early diagnosis and hope for potential therapeutic pathways.”

To view Dr. Diamond’s Molecular Medicine paper, click here.

Feinstein Institute Media Contact:
Heather Ball


About the author

Adrienne Stoller

Adrienne Stoller is communications manager at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. For more information about news items or media inquiries, please send a message to Adrienne.M.Stoller@hofstra.edu or call 516-463-7585.

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