Objective: SLE is traditionally classified using the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) recently validated an alternative system. This study examined large cohorts of subjects with SLE and incomplete lupus erythematosus (ILE) to compare the impact of ACR and SLICC criteria. Methods: Medical records of subjects in the Lupus Family Registry and Repository were reviewed for documentation of 1997 ACR classification criteria, SLICC classification criteria and medication usage. Autoantibodies were assessed by indirect immunofluorescence (ANA, antidouble-stranded DNA), precipitin (Sm) and ELISA (anticardiolipin). Other relevant autoantibodies were detected by precipitin and with a bead-based multiplex assay. Results: Of 3575 subjects classified with SLE under at least one system, 3312 (92.6%) were classified as SLE by both systems (SLEboth), 85 only by ACR criteria (SLEACR-only) and 178 only by SLICC criteria (SLESLICC-only). Of 440 subjects meeting 3 ACR criteria, 33.9% (149/440) were SLESLICC-only, while 66.1% (n=291, designated ILE) did not meet the SLICC classification criteria. Under the SLICC system, the complement criterion and the individual autoantibody criteria enabled SLE classification of SLESLICC-only subjects, while SLEACR-only subjects failed to meet SLICC classification due to the combined acute/subacute cutaneous criterion. The SLICC criteria classified more African-American subjects by the leucopenia/lymphopenia criterion than did ACR criteria. Compared with SLEACR-only subjects, SLESLICC-only subjects exhibited similar numbers of affected organ systems, rates of major organ system involvement (∼30%: pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal, neurological) and medication history. Conclusions: The SLICC criteria classify more subjects with SLE than ACR criteria; however, individuals with incomplete lupus still exist under SLICC criteria. Subjects who gain SLE classification through SLICC criteria exhibit heterogeneous disease, including potential major organ involvement. These results provide supportive evidence that SLICC criteria may be more inclusive of SLE subjects for clinical studies.
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