Neutrophil-derived lipocalin-2 in adult-onset Still's disease: a novel biomarker of disease activity and liver damage.

Liver damage is a common manifestation and can be life-threatening in adult-onset Still's disease (AOSD), an autoinflammatory disease. The hallmark of AOSD is activation of neutrophils, whose infiltration in liver is suspected to promote tissue injury. Here we aimed to identify a candidate biomarker and to validate its association with liver damage in AOSD.Transcriptome analysis of neutrophils from treatment-naïve active AOSD patients and healthy donors was performed. Lipocalin-2 (LCN2) expression was assessed in neutrophils, plasma and liver biopsies of AOSD. The correlations of LCN2 with different variables and its ability to identify liver damage from AOSD patients were analysed.LCN2, a novel biomarker in hepatic inflammation, was found to be upregulated in AOSD neutrophils by RNA sequencing and confirmed at the mRNA and protein levels. Plasma levels of LCN2 were significantly higher in AOSD patients than healthy controls, RA and SLE patients. Plasma LCN2 levels were closely correlated with inflammatory markers, systemic score, HScore and cytokines. Moreover, LCN2 levels were increased in active AOSD with liver involvement and independently associated with liver dysfunction. Enhanced expression of LCN2 was detected in liver biopsies from three patients with ongoing liver injury. Furthermore, the area under the curve value of LCN2 for identifying AOSD with liver injury from other liver diseases was 0.9694.Our results reveal that neutrophils-derived LCN2 is higher in plasma and liver tissue in AOSD patients than in healthy controls, and it could serve as a potent biomarker for identifying AOSD with systemic inflammation, especially liver damage caused by hyperinflammation.

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