Risk factors for future scleroderma renal crisis at systemic sclerosis diagnosis

Sarah M. Gordon, Rodger S. Stitt, Robert Nee, Wayne T. Bailey, Dustin J. Little, Kendral R. Knight, James B. Hughes, Jess D. Edison*, Stephen W. Olson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective. Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a disease of autoimmunity, fibrosis, and vasculopathy. Scleroderma renal crisis (SRC) is one of the most severe complications. Corticosteroid exposure, presence of anti-RNA polymerase III antibodies (ARA), skin thickness, and significant tendon friction rubs are among the known risk factors at SSc diagnosis for developing future SRC. Identification of additional clinical characteristics and laboratory findings could expand and improve the risk profile for future SRC at SSc diagnosis. Methods. In this retrospective cohort study of the entire military electronic medical record between 2005 and 2016, we compared the demographics, clinical characteristics, and laboratory results at SSc diagnosis for 31 cases who developed SRC after SSc diagnosis to 322 SSc without SRC disease controls. Results. After adjustment for potential confounding variables, at SSc diagnosis these conditions were all associated with future SRC: proteinuria (p < 0.001; OR 183, 95% CI 19.1-1750), anemia (p = 0.001; OR 9.9, 95% CI 2.7-36.2), hypertension (p < 0.001; OR 13.1, 95% CI 4.7-36.6), chronic kidney disease (p = 0.008; OR 20.7, 95% CI 2.2-190.7), elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (p < 0.001; OR 14.3, 95% CI 4.8-43.0), thrombocytopenia (p = 0.03; OR 7.0, 95% CI 1.2-42.7), hypothyroidism (p = 0.01; OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.2-6.7), Anti-Ro antibody seropositivity (p = 0.003; OR 3.9, 95% CI 1.6-9.8), and ARA (p = 0.02; OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.2-13.8). Three or more of these risk factors present at SSc diagnosis was sensitive (77%) and highly specific (97%) for future SRC. No SSc without SRC disease controls had ≥ 4 risk factors. Conclusion. In this SSc cohort, we present a panel of risk factors for future SRC. These patients may benefit from close observation of blood pressure, proteinuria, and estimated glomerular filtration rate, for earlier SRC identification and intervention. Future prospective therapeutic studies could focus specifically on this high-risk population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Hypertension
  • Proteinuria
  • Risk factors
  • Scleroderma renal crisis
  • Systemic sclerosis


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