Classification criteria are the standardized definitions that are used to enroll uniform cohorts for research studies. They emphasize high specificity and are distinct from diagnostic criteria. No universally recognized classification criteria currently exist for discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), which has led to problematic heterogeneity in observational and interventional clinical studies across the field.
To create and validate classification criteria for DLE using 12 previously defined candidate criteria items.
For this diagnostic study, candidate criteria items were prospectively applied by dermatologists and dermatopathologists at clinical visits of patients with DLE or a condition that could be confused for DLE, termed a DLE mimicker, at academic dermatology practices across the United States, Poland, Japan, and South Korea. Data were collected from December 1, 2017, to February 1, 2019, and analyzed from March 1 to September 19, 2019.
Clinical features among these 2 groups were calculated and compared with χ2 or Fisher exact tests. Candidate models were identified using best subsets logistic regression analysis. Improvement tests, fit statistics, and discrimination were considered to choose a final model.
Nine sites contributed 215 patients, 15 of whom had missing or incomplete data. The final model for DLE classification criteria includes only clinical variables: atrophic scarring (3 points), location in the conchal bowl (2 points), preference for the head and neck (2 points), dyspigmentation (1 point), follicular hyperkeratosis and/or plugging (1 point), and erythematous to violaceous in color (1 point), with an area under the receiving operating characteristic curve of 0.91 (95% CI, 0.87-0.95). A score of at least 5 points yields a sensitivity of 84.1% and a specificity of 75.9% in the classification of DLE, with increasing scores yielding higher specificity.
These findings provide the initial validation of classification criteria for DLE for use in observational and clinical trials.