A prediction score for individuals at risk for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) by integrating clinical, serologic and transcriptomic data


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE; «lupus») begins several years before the actual time of diagnosis, when a person has no or very mild symptoms but her/his immune cells start malfunctioning and produces antinuclear («ANAs») and other auto-antibodies (so called «preclinical lupus»). This gives an opportunity for planning preventive strategies which could potentially restore immune system function and delay (or even, prevent) lupus.

Facts and figures

Project lead
G Bertsias
University of Crete
FOREUM research grant: € 400.000

Meet the team

G Bertsias
University of Crete
A Stara
Arthritis Foundation Crete
A Tincani
University of Brescia
M Mosca
University of Pisa
L Inês
Centro Hospitalar E Universitario de Coimbra
K Lerstroem
Lupus Europe
C Pamfil
University of Medicine and Pharmacy
S Jacobsen
Copenhagen University
E Dermitzakis
University Hospitals of Geneva
A Fanouriakis
University Hospital


To integrate demographic, family history, environmental (smoking, diet, exercise, alcohol use, working environment), clinical and serological data, with genotypes and whole-blood gene profiling towards developing a “lupus risk” prediction model.

Patient voice

The Arthritis Foundation of Crete and Lu- pus Europe participate in the consortium and have been involved in the discussions and the design of the study. Their representatives will participate in all consortium meetings where the study details will be finalized and the results will be presented and discussed.

In all phases, the patients‘ views will be incorporated as much as possible. Besides helping with patient recruitment and retention strategies (possible risk of the project), the Foundation will assist in interpretation and dissemination of the results.

Interim results

The study protocol, including the questionnaires for assessment of environmental factors and the biosampling strategy, has been approved by all participating centres and IRBs.

Among more than 300 screened individuals, a total 254 at-risk individuals (93% women, 99% Caucasians, aged 36±12 years) have been included (complete data and biosampling) and enrolment/monitoring is still ongoing. Forty individuals (16%) have first-degree relative(s) with SLE. During follow-up of 15.2 ± 7.2 months, a total 15 individuals (5.9%) have progressed into classified (incident) SLE. An interim analysis of demographic, clinical and biological (RNA-seq) data is currently underway.


  • In an early SLE cohort the ACR-1997, SLICC-2012 and EULAR/ACR-2019 criteria classify non-overlapping groups of patients: use of all three criteria ensures optimal capture for clinical studies while their modification earlier classification and treatment. Adamichou C, Nikolopoulos D, Genitsaridi I, Bortoluzzi A, Fanouriakis A, Papastefanakis E, Kalogiannaki E, Gergianaki I, Sidiropoulos P, Boumpas DT, Bertsias GK. Ann Rheum Dis. 2020 Feb;79(2):232-241. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-216155.
  • Suspected systemic rheumatic diseases in patients presenting with cytopenias. Nikolopoulos D, Adamichou C, Bertsias G. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2019 Aug;33(4):101425. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2019.06.007.
  • EULAR 2020 Poster Presentation (Poster no. 4468). Α multicenter “at-risk” cohort for the discovery of environmental, clinical and molecular predictors for the transition into systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

EULAR Abstracts


  • THU0014: Comparative transcriptome analyses across tissues and species identify targetable genes for human Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Lupus Nephritis (LN)
  • FRI0155: Α multicenter “at-risk” cohort for the discovery of environmental, clinical and molecular predictors for the transition into systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Go to EULAR Abstract Archive