To identify and reclassify the patients in the lupus nephritis (LN) cohort, and to further analyze the prominent clinical features and clinical significance of each cluster.
In this retrospective cross-sectional study, we used a two-step clustering method to classify 635 patients with LN into different clusters, then we observed the main differences and analyzed relevant clinical significance between the clusters.
Cluster 1 (20.5%) presented with the highest disease severity, patients in this group had the disease for a longer duration and higher systemic lupus erythematosus disease activity index (SLEDAI) score, with multiple positive auto-antibodies and lower complement level. Patients of cluster 2 (20.8%) had lower levels of IgG, IgA and IgM, with renal function being relatively worse in this cluster than in clusters 1 and 3. Cluster 3 was the largest group (58.7%), and the patients in this group showed mild disease severity.
This study reclassified LN patients in a large cohort into three clusters. Our classification might be helpful to implement targeted therapy at various stages of systemic lupus erythematosus.