The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is the proportion of absolute neutrophil count to lymphocytes on routine complete blood count (CBC) tests, and has been studied as a simple marker of the systemic inflammatory response. This study was performed to investigate whether the NLR could be used as a tool to diagnose and predict prognosis in cases of adult-onset Still's disease (AOSD).
We retrospectively reviewed 164 patients with suspected AOSD. Among 164 patients with suspected AOSD, 37 patients received another diagnosis (such as viral infection) and were compared with the 127 patients who received a diagnosis of AOSD. Laboratory tests including CBCs, ferritin, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP) level, and the NLR were evaluated.
AOSD patients showed higher neutrophil counts, lower lymphocyte counts, higher NLRs, and higher levels of ferritin, ESR, and CRP than non-AOSD patients (all P < .001). In receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis of the NLR for diagnosis of AOSD, the area under the curve (AUC) was highest at 0.967 (95% CI = 0.940–0.993) with a cutoff value of 3.08. The cutoff value showed the greatest sensitivity (91.7%), specificity (68.4%), and AUC value (0.967) as a diagnostic tool for AOSD. The NLR and treatment appeared to be significant prognostic factors for relapse, but only age showed a significant relationship with death. Furthermore, the NLR was significantly higher in patients with macrophage activation syndrome than in hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) patients (P = .007). In ROC analysis, the NLR with a cutoff value of 5.86 showed a sensitivity of 89.4%, specificity of 87.8%, and AUC of 0.794.
The NLR can be used as a diagnostic tool and predictor of relapse in AOSD, and for differential diagnosis of HLH.