Dr. Chandra Mohan identifies biomarkers for heart disease, lupus 

Dr. Chandra Mohan of University of Houston. Photo: bme.uh.edu

Two separate findings by an Indian-American expert, in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), a chronic autoimmune disease that affects multiple organs including the kidneys, skin, joints and heart, are being reported in scientific and medical journals.

According to a June 2, 2022, press release from the University of Houston, the significant findings were the result of research by nationally recognized expert Dr. Chandra Mohan, the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Endowed Professor of biomedical engineering in the UH Cullen College of Engineering.

Dr.Mohan has identified blood biomarkers that predict which lupus patients will develop heart disease in the future and found new urine biomarkers for diagnosing lupus nephritis (LN) in children with lupus.

Lupus and Cardiovascular Disease 

Lupus is associated with an increased incidence of acute and chronic cardiovascular disease as compared to the general population.

Dr. Mohan’s team, in collaboration with Dr. Maureen McMahon at UCLA, used a comprehensive metabolomic screen of baseline sera from lupus patients to identify metabolites that predict future carotid plaque progression, following eight to nine years of follow-up. Nine patients had SLE without plaque progression, eight had SLE and went on to develop atherosclerotic plaques, and eight patients were controls who did not have SLE.

Taken together with the rich literature on these metabolites, the findings suggest that the identified metabolites may not only be prognostic of cardiovascular disease development in SLE patients, but they may also be active drivers of atheroma formation, the press release said, noting, that “Early identification of these high risk SLE patients may help institute preventive measures early in the disease course.”

The first author, Sahar Baig, is an undergraduate student at UH.

Children and lupus nephritis 

Lupus nephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys, is one of the most severe complications for SLE patients. Kidney disease is a leading cause of death among SLE patients – roughly a quarter of all lupus patients succumb to end-stage renal disease.

Mohan’s team, on a mission to discover non-invasive biomarkers of LN to replace painful serial kidney biopsies in children, is reporting his recent findings in Frontiers in Immunology.

Together with collaborator, Dr. Scott E. Wenderfer at Texas Children’s Hospital, Mohan’s team evaluated the performance of ten urine protein markers of diverse nature including cytokines, chemokines and adhesion molecules in distinguishing disease activity in childhood SLE among 84 pediatric patients.

“Urine concentrations of ALCAM, KIM-1, PF4 and VCAM-1 were significantly higher in active LN patients compared to active non-renal SLE, inactive SLE and healthy controls, with strong diagnostic potential” Dr. Mohan found.

“Urinary ALCAM, PF4, and VCAM-1 are potential biomarkers for predicting kidney disease activity in cSLE and hold potential as surrogate markers of nephritis flares and prognosis in these patients,” he said.

The lead author on this paper was Dr. Samar Soliman at Minia University in Egypt. Other clinical contributors were Dr. Larry A. Greenbaum, Emory University and Dr. Sherene Mason, University of Connecticut School of Medicine.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here