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Gene Expression Profiling in the Skin Reveals Strong Similarities between Subacute and Chronic Cutaneous Lupus that Are Distinct from Lupus Nephritis

      Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus and chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus are represented in the majority of cutaneous lupus subtypes, each of which has variable implications for systemic manifestations such as lupus nephritis. On dermatologic examination, subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus and chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus are distinct. However, it is often difficult to diagnose the subtype from histology alone. Our study utilized whole-genome microarray expression analysis on human skin samples of subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus, on human skin samples of chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus, and on healthy controls, along with analysis on human samples of lupus nephritis and normal kidney tissue to compare cutaneous lupus subtypes with each other as well as with lupus nephritis. The data revealed that cutaneous lupus subtypes were distinct from healthy control skin, with gene expression predominantly characterized by upregulation of IFN-1 and T-cell chemotactic genes. However, the cutaneous lupus subtypes were very similar to one another; comparative analyses revealed few statistically significant differences in gene expression. There were also distinct differences between the gene signatures of cutaneous lupus and lupus nephritis. Cutaneous lupus samples revealed gene signatures demonstrating a prominent inflammatory component that may suggest the skin as an early site of initiation of lupus pathogenesis, whereas lupus nephritis reflected the recruitment and activation of M2 macrophages and a wound healing signature.

      Abbreviations:

      BP (biological process), CCLE (chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus), DC (dendritic cell), GO (gene ontology), MF (molecular function), SCLE (subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus)
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