Serum chitinase-3-like 1 protein is a useful biomarker to assess disease activity in ANCA-associated vasculitis: an observational study

Sung Soo Ahn, Taejun Yoon, Yong Beom Park, Maria Prendecki, Gurjeet Bhangal, Stephen P. McAdoo, Sang Won Lee

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: To investigate whether serum chitinase-3-like 1 protein (YKL-40) is associated with disease activity in anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV). Methods: ELISA was performed in serum samples from AAV patients who were enrolled in our prospective observational cohort to estimate levels of YKL-40. Birmingham vasculitis activity score (BVAS) (version 3), five factor score (FFS), and short form-36 (SF-36), as well as clinical and laboratory data were collected. Kidney expression of YKL-40 was assessed by immunohistochemical staining using renal biopsy tissues from ANCA-associated glomerulonephritis patients (AAGN). Severe AAV and FFS were defined as BVAS ≥ 12 and FFS ≥ 2, and the correlations between laboratory variables, BVAS, FFS, and SF-36 score were assessed using linear regression analysis. The optimal cut-off of serum YKL-40 for severe AAV and high FFS was calculated using the receiver operator characteristic curve analysis. Results: Of the included 60 patients, 32 (53.3%), 17 (28.3%), and 11 (18.3%) were classified as microscopic polyangiitis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, and eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis. The median BVAS and FFS were 7.0 and 1.0, whereas the mean SF-36 physical and mental component scores were 50.5 and 58.3. Serum YKL-40 level was higher in patients with severe AAV and high FFS compared to those without (p = 0.007 and p < 0.001); multivariable linear regression analysis revealed that serum YKL-40 was independently associated with BVAS, FFS, and SF-36 scores. On kidney tissues obtained from AAGN patients, strong cytoplasmic staining of YKL-40 was found in cells present in inflammatory lesions. In addition, AAV patients had higher levels of serum YKL-40 compared to those with systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and healthy control. The proportion of patients having severe AAV and high FFS was significantly higher in those with serum YKL-40 > 221.3 ng/mL and > 227.1 ng/mL than those without (relative risk 2.852 and 7.000). In 12 patients with serial YKL-40 testing, 11 patients (91.7%) exhibited a reduction in serum YKL-40 levels following a decrease in disease activity (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Our findings suggest that serum YKL-40 may be a clinically useful biomarker to assess AAV disease activity. Trial registration: Retrospectively registered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge support from the National Institute for Health Research and the Imperial Biomedical Research Centre.

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a faculty research grant of Yonsei University College of Medicine (6-2019-0184) and a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, funded by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI14C1324).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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