Discovery of Novel Circulating Immune Complexes in Lupus Nephritis Using Immunoproteomics

Chenling Tang, Min Fang, Gongjun Tan, Shu Zhang, Bowen Yang, Yaxi Li, Ting Zhang, Ramesh Saxena, Chandra Mohan, Tianfu Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The goal is to discover novel circulating immune complexes (ICx) in the serum of lupus nephritis (LN) as potential biomarkers. Methods: Protein A/G magnetic beads or C1q-coated plates were used to capture ICx in the serum of LN, followed by the identification of immunoglobulin-binding proteins using liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Bioinformatic approaches and single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA Seq) databases were used to select potential candidate ICx markers in LN. The selected ICx markers were further validated using ELISA. Results: A total of 300 immunoglobulin-binding proteins were discovered in the screening, among which 77 proteins were detectable only in LN samples. Bioinformatics-assisted selection allowed us to further identify 10 potential immunoglobulin-binding proteins, which form ICx as potential biomarkers in LN. In a validation cohort of 62 LN patients and 21 healthy controls (HC), we found that prolyl 3-hydroxylase 1 (P3H1), phosphatase and actin regulator 4 (PHACTR4), and regulator of G-protein signaling 12 (RGS12) ICx exhibited discriminative capability in distinguishing LN from HC, with an area under the curve (AUC) values of 0.82, 0.99, and 0.90, respectively. Furthermore, a biomarker panel comprising CD14, CD34, cystatin A, myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C), RGS12, and ubiquitin C (UBC) ICx could distinguish active LN from inactive LN with an AUC value of 0.85, which is comparable to or better than pathological parameters such as renal activity index (AI) and renal chronicity index (CI). Conclusion: Immunoproteomics-based discovery studies have enabled us to identify circulating immune complexes as potential biomarkers of LN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number850015
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Mar 24 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • biomarker panel
  • biomarkers
  • immune complex (ICx)
  • immunoproteomics
  • lupus nephritis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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