To determine the association between neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and platelet to lymphocyte ratio (PLR) with disease activity and flares in an inception cohort of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) using a prospective study design.
Consecutive adult patients (age≥21) who fulfilled the 1997 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) or the 2012 Systemic Lupus International Collaboration Clinic Classification (SLICC) Criteria for SLE were followed every 3 months, with SLE disease activity assessed by using SLEDAI-2K, and disease flares defined and captured by the SELENA-SLEDAI Flare Index (SFI). NLR and PLR were computed from the automated machine-counted blood count differentials. Linear mixed model and generalized estimating equation model were constructed to analyze the associations between NLR/PLR and SLEDAI-2K and disease flares, with multivariate adjustments.
Of 290 patients recruited, the median (IQR) duration of follow-up and baseline SLEDAI-2K were 4.7 (3.2-6.1) years and 2 (0.5-3.5), respectively. On multivariable analyses, NLR was shown to be positively and significantly associated with SLEDAI-2K (estimate of coefficient (β) = 0.05, P<0.01) and severe disease flares (odds ratio [OR] 1.05, P<0.05), but not with overall disease flares [OR 1.02, non-significant]. While PLR was shown to be positively associated with SLEDAI-2K [β = 0.09, P<0.05], no statistically significant association between PLR and overall or severe disease flares was found [OR 1.00 and OR 1.06 respectively, non-significant].
Derived readily from automated blood count differentials, the NLR potentially serves as a surrogate prospective marker of disease activity and severe disease flares in SLE patients.

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