Serum metabolites can serve as a diagnostic tool for systemic lupus erythematosus

Serum metabolites can serve as a diagnostic tool for systemic lupus erythematosus 

According to a recent study published in Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, certain metabolites were found to play a dual role by acting as intermediaries in the genesis and progression of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or serve as factors in the immune response that causes SLE. 

The study conducted by Li and colleagues found that specific blood metabolites may increase the risk of SLE. Utilizing a genome-wide association study with over 7,800 participants, the researchers analyzed 486 human blood metabolites. Additionally, they obtained outcome information from a large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) summary, which included over 5,000 cases and 9,000 controls of Europeans. The study revealed that 24 metabolites from different pathways may elevate the risk of SLE occurrence, while 51 metabolites from other pathways were affected by SLE. Furthermore, the research identified significant metabolic enrichment pathways, including bile acid biosynthesis, linolenic acid and linoleic acid metabolism, betaine metabolism, and glycerolipid metabolism. These findings shed new light on the potential role of blood metabolites in SLE occurrence and metabolic disorders. 

An increasing number of studies have established a connection between metabolomics and immune diseases like SLE. This correlation has led to the discovery of metabolic-derived biomarkers. The cellular metabolic programs can have an impact on the immune response by regulating the activation, proliferation, and differentiation of innate and adaptive immune cells. Multiple studies have demonstrated that changes in metabolite profiles are associated with dysregulation of the immune system. By targeting the corresponding receptors, metabolites can regulate the process of immune diseases. 

The study proposes a dual role for specific metabolites, either inducing the immune response linked to SLE or contributing to the development and advancement of the disease. These identified metabolites hold promise as adjunctive diagnostic tools for SLE and as means to monitor disease progression and assess treatment efficacy. However, the complexity of these interactions warrants further research to refine and establish more precise conclusions based on the current findings. 


  1. Li L, Li W, Ma Q, Lin Y, Cui Z. Exploring the causal correlations between 486 serum metabolites and systemic lupus erythematosus: a bidirectional Mendelian randomization study. Front Mol Biosci. 2023;10:1281987. 
  2. Teng X, Brown J, Choi SC, Li W, Morel L. Metabolic determinants of lupus pathogenesis. Immunol Rev. 2020 May;295(1):167–86.  
  3. Wu Y, Zhao M, Gong N, Zhang F, Chen W, Liu Y. Immunometabolomics provides a new perspective for studying systemic lupus erythematosus. Int Immunopharmacol. 2023 May;118:109946.