Distinct patterns of disease activity over time in patients with active SLE revealed using latent class trajectory models

John Reynolds, Jennifer Prattley , Nophar Geifman , Mark Lunt, Caroline Gordon, Ian N Bruce, MASTERPLANS Consortium

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Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous systemic autoimmune condition for which there are limited licenced therapies. Clinical trial design is challenging in SLE due at least in part to imperfect outcome measures. Improved understanding of how disease activity changes over time could inform future trial design. The aim of this study was to determine whether distinct trajectories of disease activity over time occur in patients with active SLE within a clinical trial setting and to identify factors associated with these trajectories.

Methods: Latent class trajectory models were fitted to a clinical trial dataset of a monoclonal antibody targeting CD22 (Epratuzumab) in patients with active SLE using the numerical BILAG-2004 score (nBILAG). The baseline characteristics of patients in each class and changes in prednisolone over time were identified. Exploratory PK-PD modelling was used to examine cumulative drug exposure in relation to latent class membership.

Results: Five trajectories of disease activity were identified, with 3 principal classes; non-responders (NR), slow responders (SR) and rapid-responders (RR). In both the SR and RR groups significant changes in disease activity were evident within the first 90 days of the trial. The SR and RR patients had significantly higher baseline disease activity, exposure to epratuzumab and activity in specific BILAG domains, whilst NR had lower steroid use at baseline and less change in steroid dose early in the trial.

Conclusions: Longitudinal nBILAG scores reveal different trajectories of disease activity and may offer advantages over fixed endpoints. Corticosteroid use however remains an important confounder in lupus trials and can influence early response. Changes in disease activity and steroid dose early in the trial were associated with the overall disease activity trajectory, supporting the feasibility of performing adaptive trial designs in SLE.
Original languageEnglish
Article number203
JournalArthritis Research & Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2021


  • Disease activity
  • Epratuzumab
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Trajectory modelling clinical trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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