J Korean Med Sci.  2020 Nov;35(43):e356. 10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e356.

Practical Utility of D-dimer Test for Venous Thromboembolism in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Depends on Disease Activity: a Retrospective Cohort Study

  • 1Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea
  • 2Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Korea
  • 3Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 4Department of Molecular Medicine and Biopharmaceutical Sciences, Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
  • 5Wide River Institute of Immunology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Hongcheon, Korea


The D-dimer test is a screening tool for venous thromboembolism (VTE); however, its utility for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) remains unclear. Here, we examined the utility of the D-dimer test as a screening tool for VTE in SLE patients.
SLE patients (n = 276) and age- and sex-matched patients with non-rheumatic disease (n = 1,104), all of whom underwent D-dimer testing to screen for VTE, were enrolled. The sensitivity and specificity and receiver operating characteristics curve of the D-dimer test were compared in both groups. Then, subgroup of SLE patients in whom the D-dimer test can be useful was sought.
The incidence of VTE was more common in SLE patients than controls (10.9% vs. 4.0%). Although the sensitivity of the D-dimer test was comparable between SLE patients and controls (93.3% vs. 90.9%), the specificity of the test was profoundly lower in SLE patients compared to controls (28.4% vs. 84.4%). The area under the curve (AUC) of the D-dimer for VTE was 0.669 in SLE patients and 0.90 in control group. Multiple linear regression analysis demonstrated that SLE disease activity index-2000 (SLEDAI-2K) was significantly associated with D-dimer levels in SLE patients (β = 0.155; P = 0.022). Subgroup analysis showed that the AUC is moderate (0.768) with low disease activity, while it is low (0.518) with high SLEDAI-2K.
The D-dimer test may not be a useful screening tool for VTE in patients with active SLE. D-dimer test for predicting VTE in SLE patients should be differentially applied according to disease activity of SLE.


D-dimer; Venous Thromboembolism; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; SLEDAI-2K
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