Background Remission and low disease activity (LDA) have been proposed as the treatment goals for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Several definitions for each have been proposed in the literature. Objective To assess the impact of remission/LDA according to various definitions on relevant outcomes in patients with SLE. Methods This systematic literature review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses using PubMed (1946-week 2, April 2021), Cochrane library (1985-week 2, week 2, April 2021) and EMBASE (1974-week 2, April 2021). We included longitudinal and cross-sectional studies in patients with SLE reporting the impact of remission and LDA (regardless their definition) on mortality, damage accrual, flares, health-related quality of life and other outcomes (cardiovascular risk, hospitalisation and direct costs). The quality of evidence was evaluated using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Results We identified 7497 articles; of them, 31 studies met the inclusion criteria and were evaluated. Some articles reported a positive association with survival, although this was not confirmed in all of them. Organ damage accrual was the most frequently reported outcome, and remission and LDA were reported as protective of this outcome (risk measures varying from 0.04 to 0.95 depending on the definition). Similarly, both states were associated with a lower probability of SLE flares, hospitalisations and a better health-related quality of life, in particular the physical domain. Conclusion Remission and LDA are associated with improvement in multiple outcomes in patients with SLE, thus reinforcing their relevance in clinical practice. PROSPERO registration number CRD42020162724.
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