Background and aims To assess the usefulness of serum ferritin levels as a marker of disease activity and organ involvement in childhood systemic lupus erythematosus (cSLE) and to screen children with SLE for subclinical macrophage activation syndrome.
Methods Consecutive children who met the criteria of SLICC were enrolled. All patients interviewed and assessed for disease activity using SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI). Biochemical and serological tests including serum ferritin level and markers of disease activity and macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) including LDH, AST, triglyceride and CD25 were measured by standard laboratory procedure.
Results A total of 29 (24 female) SLE patients with a mean age of 10.9 (± 2.9) years and mean of disease duration of 4 (± 2.4) years were included. The most frequent manifestations were musculoskeletal in 25 patients followed by haematological in 15 then renal involvement in 13 patients. Twenty patients had active disease (SLEDAI >4). Serum ferritin level was correlated significantly with SLEDAI (p<0.0001) and markers of MAS (LDH, AST, triglyceride and CD25) and negative correlation with fibrinogen (p 0.02). Interestingly, serum ferritin was weakly correlated with ESR but no correlation with CRP and proteinuria. Two patients confirmed to have MAS.
Conclusions Serum ferritin is a simple and probably a good marker of disease activity and screening for MAS in cSLE.
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