To study the prevalence of remission and its effect on damage and quality of life (QOL) in Chinese patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).Methods
Patients who fulfilled ≥4 American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE were identified. Their remission status at last clinic visits was determined by the European consensus criteria (complete/clinical remission ± immunosuppressive drugs). The increase in SLE damage index (SDI) in the preceding 5 years was compared between patients who were and were not in remission for ≥5 years. QOL of patients as assessed by the validated Chinese version of the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form-36 (SF36) and the LupusPRO was also compared between the remission and non-remission groups by statistical analysis.Results
769 SLE patients were studied (92% women; age: 46.4±14.6 years; SLE duration: 12.6±8.1 years). At last visit, clinical remission was present in 259 (33.7%) patients and complete remission was present in 280 (36.4%) patients. Clinical and complete remissions for ≥5 years were achieved in 64 (8.3%) and 129 (16.8%) of the patients, respectively. Patients remitted for ≥5 years were older, and had significantly lower prevalence of renal involvement, leucopenia or thrombocytopaenia. Fifty-three (6.9%) patients in remission ≥5 years were taken off all medications, including hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) (drug-free). Patients who remitted for ≥5 years but off-therapy (except HCQ) had significantly less SDI increment than those who did not remit (0.17±0.53 vs 0.67±1.10; p<0.001). Among 453 patients who had QOL assessment, remission for ≥5 years was associated with significantly higher SF36 and the total health-related scores of the LupusPRO.Conclusions
Durable remission can be achieved in a quarter of patients with SLE. Patients with remission for ≥5 years have significantly less damage accrual and better QOL. Prolonged remission is an appropriate criterion for outcome assessment in SLE.