Background The B cell-activating factor (BAFF) promotes the maturation, differentiation, and survival of B lymphocytes, which play an important role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This cytokine has been associated with SLE disease activity, hence TNFSF13B gene, which encodes BAFF, along with its diverse single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) might also be associated with more severe SLE activity. The aim of this study was to explore the association between TNFSF13B genetic polymorphisms with disease activity, as well as serum soluble BAFF (s-BAFF) levels in SLE patients.
Methods This cross-sectional study included SLE patients in rheumatology clinic and in-patient wards of Dr. Hasan Sadikin General Hospital, Bandung, between February 2020 -March 2022. One single nucleotide rs9514828 (C>T -871) polymorphism in the 5’ regulatory region of the TNFSF13B gene were identified by PCR-sequencing. Serum BAFF levels were measured by ELISA and disease activity was measured by MEX-SLEDAI score. The active disease was determined by MEX-SLEDAI 2. The statistical analysis was performed using Mann-Whitney, Chi-Square, and Spearman test for the correlation.
Results There were 107 SLE patients, all female with median age of 32 years old (interquartile range [IQR], 15–64). The median disease duration was 5 years (IQR 0.5–22), whereas the median s-BAFF levels was 846.9 pg/mL (IQR 185–6979.88). The s-BAFF levels were significantly elevated in active disease patients compared to inactive disease (953.17 pg/ml vs 781.4 pg/mL; p 0.008). There was a weak positive correlation between s-BAFF levels and disease activity (r 0.311; p 0.001). There were no differences in genotype TNFSF13B polymorphisms with the disease activity.
Conclusions Although the rs9514828 (C>T -871) of TNFSF13B gene promoter does not seem to be related with SLE activity, s-BAFF levels is, however, correlated with disease activity. Further study to explore other polymorphisms in TNFSF13B gene is of great interest.
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