CD226 is an activating receptor expressed on the cell surface of natural killer cells and T cells. Although CD226 polymorphism is known to be involved in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the involvement of soluble CD226 (sCD226) in SLE is still unknown. In the present study, we measured serum sCD226 levels using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 58 SLE patients and 33 healthy controls (HCs) and evaluated their associations with SLE Disease Activity Index 2000 (SLEDAI-2K), clinical manifestations, laboratory data, and the cumulative probability of flare. Serum sCD226 levels showed no significant differences between SLE patients and HCs. However, sCD226 levels were significantly elevated in active SLE patients with a SLEDAI-2K score of ≥ 20 compared with HCs. In SLE patients, sCD226 levels were significantly correlated with SLEDAI-2K scores and anti-dsDNA antibody titers. Moreover, the cumulative probability of flare was markedly higher in patients with high sCD226 than in those with low sCD226. In patients with neuropsychiatric involvement, sCD226 levels were elevated and reflected neuropsychiatric disease activity. These findings indicate that serum sCD226 levels are associated with disease activity and flares of SLE. Thus, it may be a useful biomarker for SLE, and its monitoring allows for more precise SLE management.
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