Biomarker development for axial spondyloarthritis

Matthew A. Brown*, Zhixiu Li, Kim Anh Lê Cao

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)


    The term axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) encompasses a heterogeneous group of diseases that have variable presentations, extra-articular manifestations and clinical outcomes, and that will respond differently to treatments. The prototypical type of axSpA, ankylosing spondylitis, is thought to be caused by interaction between the genetically primed host immune system and gut microbiota. Currently used biomarkers such as HLA-B27 status, C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate have, at best, moderate diagnostic and predictive value. Improved biomarkers are needed for axSpA to assist with early diagnosis and to better predict treatment responses and long-term outcomes. Advances in a range of ‘omics’ technologies and statistical approaches, including genomics approaches (such as polygenic risk scores), microbiome profiling and, potentially, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic profiling, are making it possible for more informative biomarker sets to be developed for use in such clinical applications. Future developments in this field will probably involve combinations of biomarkers that require novel statistical approaches to analyse and to produce easy to interpret metrics for clinical application. Large publicly available datasets from well-characterized case–cohort studies that use extensive biological sampling, particularly focusing on early disease and responses to medications, are required to establish successful biomarker discovery and validation programmes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)448-463
    Number of pages16
    JournalNature Reviews Rheumatology
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


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