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1.  Epratuzumab targeting of CD22 affects adhesion molecule expression and migration of B-cells in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(6):R204.
Epratuzumab, a humanized anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody, is under investigation as a therapeutic antibody in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but its mechanism of action on B-cells remains elusive. Treatment of SLE patients with epratuzumab leads to a reduction of circulating CD27negative B-cells, although epratuzumab is weakly cytotoxic to B-cells in vitro. Therefore, potential effects of epratuzumab on adhesion molecule expression and the migration of B-cells have been evaluated.
Epratuzumab binding specificity and the surface expression of adhesion molecules (CD62L, β7 integrin and β1 integrin) after culture with epratuzumab was studied on B-cell subsets of SLE patients by flow cytometry. In addition, in vitro transwell migration assays were performed to analyze the effects of epratuzumab on migration towards different chemokines such as CXCL12, CXCL13 or to CXCR3 ligands, and to assess the functional consequences of altered adhesion molecule expression.
Epratuzumab binding was considerably higher on B-cells relative to other cell types assessed. No binding of epratuzumab was observed on T-cells, while weak non-specific binding of epratuzumab on monocytes was noted. On B-cells, binding of epratuzumab was particularly enhanced on CD27negative B-cells compared to CD27positive B-cells, primarily related to a higher expression of CD22 on CD27negative B-cells. Moreover, epratuzumab binding led to a decrease in the cell surface expression of CD62L and β7 integrin, while the expression of β1 integrin was enhanced. The effects on the pattern of adhesion molecule expression observed with epratuzumab were principally confined to a fraction of the CD27negative B-cell subpopulation and were associated with enhanced spontaneous migration of B-cells. Furthermore, epratuzumab also enhanced the migration of CD27negative B-cells towards the chemokine CXCL12.
The current data suggest that epratuzumab has effects on the expression of the adhesion molecules CD62L, β7 integrin and β1 integrin as well as on migration towards CXCL12, primarily of CD27negative B-cells. Therefore, induced changes in migration appear to be part of the mechanism of action of epratuzumab and are consistent with the observation that CD27negative B-cells were found to be preferentially reduced in the peripheral blood under treatment.
PMCID: PMC3046510  PMID: 21050432
2.  Initial clinical trial of epratuzumab (humanized anti-CD22 antibody) for immunotherapy of systemic lupus erythematosus 
B cells play an important role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), so the safety and activity of anti-B cell immunotherapy with the humanized anti-CD22 antibody epratuzumab was evaluated in SLE patients. An open-label, single-center study of 14 patients with moderately active SLE (total British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) score 6 to 12) was conducted. Patients received 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab intravenously every 2 weeks for 4 doses with analgesic/antihistamine premedication (but no steroids) prior to each dose. Evaluations at 6, 10, 18 and 32 weeks (6 months post-treatment) follow-up included safety, SLE activity (BILAG score), blood levels of epratuzumab, B and T cells, immunoglobulins, and human anti-epratuzumab antibody (HAHA) titers. Total BILAG scores decreased by ≥ 50% in all 14 patients at some point during the study (including 77% with a ≥ 50% decrease at 6 weeks), with 92% having decreases of various amounts continuing to at least 18 weeks (where 38% showed a ≥ 50% decrease). Almost all patients (93%) experienced improvements in at least one BILAG B- or C-level disease activity at 6, 10 and 18 weeks. Additionally, 3 patients with multiple BILAG B involvement at baseline had completely resolved all B-level disease activities by 18 weeks. Epratuzumab was well tolerated, with a median infusion time of 32 minutes. Drug serum levels were measurable for at least 4 weeks post-treatment and detectable in most samples at 18 weeks. B cell levels decreased by an average of 35% at 18 weeks and remained depressed at 6 months post-treatment. Changes in routine safety laboratory tests were infrequent and without any consistent pattern, and there was no evidence of immunogenicity or significant changes in T cells, immunoglobulins, or autoantibody levels. In patients with mild to moderate active lupus, 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab was well tolerated, with evidence of clinical improvement after the first infusion and durable clinical benefit across most body systems. As such, multicenter controlled studies are being conducted in broader patient populations.
PMCID: PMC1526638  PMID: 16630358
3.  Anti-CD22/CD20 Bispecific Antibody with Enhanced Trogocytosis for Treatment of Lupus 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98315.
The humanized anti-CD22 antibody, epratuzumab, has demonstrated therapeutic activity in clinical trials of lymphoma, leukemia and autoimmune diseases, treating currently over 1500 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemias, Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, Sjögren’s syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Because epratuzumab reduces on average only 35% of circulating B cells in patients, and has minimal antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and negligible complement-dependent cytotoxicity when evaluated in vitro, its therapeutic activity may not result completely from B-cell depletion. We reported recently that epratuzumab mediates Fc/FcR-dependent membrane transfer from B cells to effector cells via trogocytosis, resulting in a substantial reduction of multiple BCR modulators, including CD22, CD19, CD21, and CD79b, as well as key cell adhesion molecules, including CD44, CD62L, and β7 integrin, on the surface of B cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from normal donors or SLE patients. Rituximab has clinical activity in lupus, but failed to achieve primary endpoints in a Phase III trial. This is the first study of trogocytosis mediated by bispecific antibodies targeting neighboring cell-surface proteins, CD22, CD20, and CD19, as demonstrated by flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. We show that, compared to epratuzumab, a bispecific hexavalent antibody comprising epratuzumab and veltuzumab (humanized anti-CD20 mAb) exhibits enhanced trogocytosis resulting in major reductions in B-cell surface levels of CD19, CD20, CD21, CD22, CD79b, CD44, CD62L and β7-integrin, and with considerably less immunocompromising B-cell depletion that would result with anti-CD20 mAbs such as veltuzumab or rituximab, given either alone or in combination with epratuzumab. A CD22/CD19 bispecific hexavalent antibody, which exhibited enhanced trogocytosis of some antigens and minimal B-cell depletion, may also be therapeutically useful. The bispecific antibody is a candidate for improved treatment of lupus and other autoimmune diseases, offering advantages over administration of the two parental antibodies in combination.
PMCID: PMC4026529  PMID: 24841238
4.  Profile of epratuzumab and its potential in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus 
Management of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) represents a fascinating, emerging field. Research has recently provided us with a better understanding of the immunologic alterations of SLE, leading to the creation of immunomodulatory agents designed to disrupt specific cell targets and pro-inflammatory pathways. Despite the improvement in the prognosis of SLE in the last 50 years with the use of immunosuppressive therapy such as cyclophosphamide and mycophenolate mofetil, cytotoxicity remains a major complication of these medications and the need for more specific targeted immunotherapy is increasing. Early recognition and treatment of SLE with targeted immunotherapy has the potential to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of disease flare-ups and complications. In this review, we will explore the role of B-cells in the pathogenesis of SLE highlighting current insights into SLE development and management. In addition, we will discuss epratuzumab’s role in the treatment of SLE. Epratuzumab is a humanized anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody that targets CD22 on B-cell and its role in B-cell modulation, migration, function, and inhibition of B-cell receptor signaling. Epratuzumab is currently in a Phase III study evaluating its efficacy in the management of moderate to severe SLE. All published trials on epratuzumab have shown great promise with safe profiles.
PMCID: PMC4242126  PMID: 25429203
epratuzumab; SLE; lupus; anti-CD22; monoclonal antibody
5.  Efficacy and safety of epratuzumab in patients with moderate/severe active systemic lupus erythematosus: results from EMBLEM, a phase IIb, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(1):183-190.
To identify a suitable dosing regimen of the CD22-targeted monoclonal antibody epratuzumab in adults with moderately to severely active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
A phase IIb, multicentre, randomised controlled study (NCT00624351) was conducted with 227 patients (37–39 per arm) receiving either: placebo, epratuzumab 200 mg cumulative dose (cd) (100 mg every other week (EOW)), 800 mg cd (400 mg EOW), 2400 mg cd (600 mg weekly), 2400 mg cd (1200 mg EOW), or 3600 mg cd (1800 mg EOW). The primary endpoint (not powered for significance) was the week 12 responder rate measured using a novel composite endpoint, the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG)-based Combined Lupus Assessment (BICLA).
Proportion of responders was higher in all epratuzumab groups than with placebo (overall treatment effect test p=0.148). Exploratory pairwise analysis demonstrated clinical improvement in patients receiving a cd of 2400 mg epratuzumab (OR for 600 mg weekly vs placebo: 3.2 (95% CI 1.1 to 8.8), nominal p=0.03; OR for 1200 mg EOW vs placebo: 2.6 (0.9 to 7.1), nominal p=0.07). Post-hoc comparison of all 2400 mg cd patients versus placebo found an overall treatment effect (OR=2.9 (1.2 to 7.1), nominal p=0.02). Incidence of adverse events (AEs), serious AEs and infusion reactions was similar between epratuzumab and placebo groups, without decreases in immunoglobulin levels and only partial reduction in B-cell levels.
Treatment with epratuzumab 2400 mg cd was well tolerated in patients with moderately to severely active SLE, and associated with improvements in disease activity. Phase III studies are ongoing.
PMCID: PMC3888603  PMID: 23313811
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Treatment; B cells
6.  A perspective on B-cell-targeting therapy for SLE 
In recent years, large controlled trials have tested several new agents for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Unfortunately, none of these trials has met its primary outcome. This does not mean progress has not been made. In fact, a great deal has been learned about doing clinical trials in lupus and about the biological and clinical effects of the drugs being tested. Many of these drugs were designed to target B cells directly, e.g., rituximab, belimumab, epratuzumab, and transmembrane activator and calcium modulator and cyclophilin ligand interactor–immunoglobulin (TACI–Ig). The enthusiasm for targeting B cells derives from substantial evidence showing the critical role of B cells in murine models of SLE, as well promising results from multiple open trials with rituximab, a chimeric anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody that specifically depletes B cells (Martin and Chan in Immunity 20(5):517–527, 2004; Sobel et al. in J Exp Med 173:1441–1449, 1991; Silverman and Weisman in Arthritis Rheum 48:1484–1492, 2003; Silverman in Arthritis Rheum 52(4):1342, 2005; Shlomchik et al. in Nat Rev Immunol 1:147–153, 2001; Looney et al. in Arthritis Rheum 50:2580–2589, 2004; Lu et al. in Arthritis Rheum 61(4):482–487, 2009; Saito et al. in Lupus 12(10):798–800, 2003; van Vollenhoven et al. in Scand J Rheumatol 33(6):423–427, 2004; Sfikakis et al. Arthritis Rheum 52(2):501–513, 2005). Why have the controlled trials of B-cell-targeting therapies failed to demonstrate efficacy? Were there flaws in design or execution of these trials? Or, were promising animal studies and open trials misleading, as so often happens? This perspective discusses the current state of B-cell-targeting therapies for human lupus and the future development of these therapies.
PMCID: PMC3927150  PMID: 19669389
Atacicept; Belimumab; B lymphocytes; Bortezomib; Rituximab; Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
7.  Targeting B cells in systemic lupus erythematosus: not just déjà vu all over again 
Epratuzumab (anti-CD22) is a humanized monoclonal antibody that recognizes a pan-B-cell marker. It potentially downregulates B cell activity through negative signaling, as well as depleting B cells moderately. The uncontrolled series discussed by Dörner and colleagues in this issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy suggests that epratuzumab may be safe and efficacious for systemic lupus erythematosus. A randomized controlled trial is currently active to test this possibility.
PMCID: PMC1526641  PMID: 16732895
8.  A phase II trial of extended induction epratuzumab and rituximab for previously untreated follicular lymphoma: CALGB 50701 
Cancer  2013;119(21):10.1002/cncr.28299.
Rituximab combined with chemotherapy has improved the survival of previously untreated patients with follicular lymphoma (FL). Nevertheless, many patients neither want nor can tolerate chemotherapy, leading to interest in biological approaches. Epratuzumab is a humanized anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody with efficacy in relapsed FL. Since both rituximab and epratuzumab have single agent activity in FL, we evaluated the antibody combination as initial treatment of patients with FL.
Patients and Methods
Fifty-nine untreated patients with FL received epratuzumab 360 mg/m2 with rituximab 375 mg/m2 weekly for four induction doses. This combination was continued as extended induction in weeks 12, 20, 28, and 36. Response assessed by CT was correlated with clinical risk factors, FDG-PET findings at week 3, Fcg polymorphisms, immunohistochemical markers, and statin use.
Therapy was well-tolerated with toxicities similar to expected with rituximab monotherapy. Fifty-two (88.2%) evaluable patients responded, including 25 complete responses (CR)(42.4%), and 27 partial responses (45.8%). At 3 years follow-up, 60% of patients remain in remission. Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index (FLIPI) risk strongly predicted progression-free survival (p=0.022).
The high response rate and prolonged time to progression observed with this antibody combination are comparable to those observed after standard chemo-immunotherapies and further support the development of biologic, non-chemotherapeutic approaches for these patients.
PMCID: PMC3828050  PMID: 23922187
9.  Monoclonal Antibodies for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) † 
Pharmaceuticals  2010;3(1):300-322.
A number of monoclonal antibodies (mAb) are now under investigation in clinical trials to assess their potential role in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). The most frequently used mAb is rituximab, which is directed against CD20, a membrane protein expressed on B lymphocytes. Uncontrolled trials reported an improvement of SLE activity in non-renal patients and other studies even reported an improvement of severe lupus nephritis unresponsive to conventional treatments. However two randomized trials failed to show the superiority of rituximab over conventional treatment in non renal SLE and in lupus nephritis. Preliminary trials reported promising results with epratuzumab, a humanized mAb directed against CD22, and with belimumab, a human mAb that specifically recognizes and inhibits the biological activity of BLyS a cytokine of the tumor-necrosis-factor (TNF) ligand superfamily. Other clinical trials with mAb directed against TNF-alpha, interleukin-10 (Il-10), Il-6, CD154, CD40 ligand, IL-18 or complement component C5 are under way. At present, however, in spite of good results reported by some studies, no firm conclusion on the risk-benefit profile of these mAbs in patients with SLE can be drawn from the available studies.
PMCID: PMC3991031
systemic lupus erythematosus; lupus nephritis; monoclonal antibodies; rituximab
10.  Epratuzumab (humanised anti-CD22 antibody) in primary Sjögren's syndrome: an open-label phase I/II study 
This open-label, phase I/II study investigated the safety and efficacy of epratuzumab, a humanised anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody, in the treatment of patients with active primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS). Sixteen Caucasian patients (14 females/2 males, 33–72 years) were to receive 4 infusions of 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab once every 2 weeks, with 6 months of follow-up. A composite endpoint involving the Schirmer-I test, unstimulated whole salivary flow, fatigue, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and immunoglobulin G (IgG) was devised to provide a clinically meaningful assessment of response, defined as a ≥20% improvement in at least two of the aforementioned parameters, with ≥20% reduction in ESR and/or IgG considered as a single combined criterion. Fourteen patients received all infusions without significant reactions, 1 patient received 3, and another was discontinued due to a mild acute reaction after receiving a partial infusion. Three patients showed moderately elevated levels of Human anti-human (epratuzumab) antibody not associated with clinical manifestations. B-cell levels had mean reductions of 54% and 39% at 6 and 18 weeks, respectively, but T-cell levels, immunoglobulins, and routine safety laboratory tests did not change significantly. Fifty-three percent achieved a clinical response (at ≥20% improvement level) at 6 weeks, with 53%, 47%, and 67% responding at 10, 18, and 32 weeks, respectively. Approximately 40%–50% responded at the ≥30% level, while 10%–45% responded at the ≥50% level for 10–32 weeks. Additionally, statistically significant improvements were observed in fatigue, and patient and physician global assessments. Further, we determined that pSS patients have a CD22 over-expression in their peripheral B cells, which was downregulated by epratuzumab for at least 12 weeks after the therapy. Thus, epratuzumab appears to be a promising therapy in active pSS, suggesting that further studies be conducted.
PMCID: PMC1779377  PMID: 16859536
11.  B-cell-depleting Therapy in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
The American journal of medicine  2012;125(4):327-336.
The emergence of a new class of agents (B-cell-depleting therapies) has opened a new era in the therapeutic approach to systemic lupus erythematosus, with belimumab being the first drug licensed for use in systemic lupus erythematosus in more than 50 years. Four agents deserve specific mention: rituximab, ocrelizumab, epratuzumab, and belimumab. Controlled trials have shown negative results for rituximab, promising results for epratuzumab, and positive results for belimumab. Despite these negative results, rituximab is the most-used agent in patients who do not respond or are intolerant to standard therapy and those with life-threatening presentations. B-cell-depleting agents should not be used in patients with mild disease and should be tailored according to individual patient characteristics, including ethnicity, organ involvement, and the immunological profile. Forthcoming studies of B-cell-directed strategies, particularly data from investigations of off-label rituximab use and postmarketing studies of belimumab, will provide new insights into the utility of these treatments in the routine management of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.
PMCID: PMC3925418  PMID: 22444096
Belimumab; Epratuzumab; Ocrelizumab; Rituximab; Systemic lupus erythematosus
12.  Targeting CD22 as a strategy for treating systemic autoimmune diseases 
B-cells play an important role in the diagnosis and to some extent the pathogenesis of many autoimmune diseases. Specific B-cell directed antibodies are now gaining an increasing role in the management of these diseases. The first antibody target in this regard was CD20, with the development and introduction of rituximab in the management of B-cell malignancies as well as rheumatoid arthritis. A second candidate target is CD22, and the first antagonistic antibody to this B-cell marker is epratuzumab, which appears to function, in contrast to CD20 antibodies, more by modulation of B-cells than by their depletion capacity. Originally developed for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, epratuzumab has now been reported to be effective, with a very good safety profile, in two prototype autoimmune diseases, systemic lupus erythematosus and primary Sjögren’s syndrome. As such, this new investigational antibody may provide distinct therapeutic effects and may be complementary to the known effects and role of CD20 antibodies.
PMCID: PMC2376077  PMID: 18473018
autoimmune diseases; CD22; B-cells; epratuzumab
13.  A Novel Epitope from CD22 Regulates Th1 and Th17 Cell Function in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64572.
The published antibodies (Abs) against CD22 on B cells including Epratuzumab could inhibit B cell activation mainly through binding to C2-set Ig domain of CD22, but they are rarely reported to modulate the pathogenic CD4+ T cell function in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Recently, it was proved that the extracellular amino-terminal V-set Ig domain of CD22 might mediate the interaction of B and T cells, but for now the exact effect of this domain on CD4+ T cell biology have not been identified. Thus, in this study, we screened out a peptide termed B2285 from this V-set Ig domain, developed the novel specific anti-B2285 Abs in rabbits, and investigated their effects in MRL/lpr mice with spontaneous SLE. The results showed that anti-B2285 Abs could ameliorate the disease severity obviously in spontaneous SLE mice with the decreased differentiations of Th1 and Th17 cells and no changes of Th2 and Treg cells. In co-cultured B cells and CD4+ T cells, this specific anti-CD22 Abs was observed to inhibit the anti-dsDNA Abs production, CD4+ T cells proliferation, the protein levels of T-bet and RORγt, and the mRNA levels of TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-6 and IL-17 in CD4+ T cells. Moreover, the expression of CD45RO on CD4+ T cells could be also apparently diminished by this novel Abs. The data suggested that anti-B2285 Abs could slow SLE progression significantly by regulating Th1 and Th17 cells function via B-T cell interaction and the cytokine network regulation. The treatment against V-set Ig domain of CD22 would be a valuable therapeutic method for SLE and other autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3660346  PMID: 23704998
14.  Sensory neuronopathy complicating systemic lupus erythematosus: a case report 
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a multi-system connective tissue disorder. Peripheral neuropathy is a known and underestimated complication in systemic lupus erythematosus. Ganglionopathy manifests when neuronal cell bodies in the dorsal root ganglion are involved. Autoimmune disorders are a known etiology, with systemic lupus erythematosus being a rare cause.
Case presentation
A 32-year-old South Asian woman presented with oral ulceration involving her lips following initiation of treatment for a febrile illness associated with dysuria. She had a history of progressively worsening numbness over a period of 4 months involving both the upper and lower limbs symmetrically while sparing the trunk. Her vibration sense was impaired, and her reflexes were diminished. For the past 4 years, she had had a bilateral, symmetrical, non-deforming arthritis involving the upper and lower limbs. Her anti-nuclear antibody and anti-double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid status were positive. Although her anti-Ro antibodies were positive, she did not have clinical features suggestive of Sjögren syndrome. Nerve conduction studies revealed sensory neuronopathy. A diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus complicated by sensory neuronopathy was made. Treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin resulted in clinical and electrophysiological improvement.
Peripheral neuropathy in systemic lupus erythematosus can, by itself, be a disabling feature. Nerve conduction studies should be considered when relevant. Neuropathy in systemic lupus erythematosus should be given greater recognition, and rarer forms of presentation should be entertained in the differential diagnosis when the clinical picture is atypical. Intravenous immunoglobulin may have role in treatment of sensory neuronopathy in systemic lupus erythematosus.
PMCID: PMC4229803  PMID: 24884917
Dorsal root ganglionopathy; Intravenous immunoglobulins; Sensory neuronopathy; Systemic lupus erythematosus
15.  Elevated Serum Levels of Interferon-Regulated Chemokines Are Biomarkers for Active Human Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e491.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a serious systemic autoimmune disorder that affects multiple organ systems and is characterized by unpredictable flares of disease. Recent evidence indicates a role for type I interferon (IFN) in SLE pathogenesis; however, the downstream effects of IFN pathway activation are not well understood. Here we test the hypothesis that type I IFN-regulated proteins are present in the serum of SLE patients and correlate with disease activity.
Methods and Findings
We performed a comprehensive survey of the serologic proteome in human SLE and identified dysregulated levels of 30 cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, and soluble receptors. Particularly striking was the highly coordinated up-regulation of 12 inflammatory and/or homeostatic chemokines, molecules that direct the movement of leukocytes in the body. Most of the identified chemokines were inducible by type I IFN, and their levels correlated strongly with clinical and laboratory measures of disease activity.
These data suggest that severely disrupted chemokine gradients may contribute to the systemic autoimmunity observed in human SLE. Furthermore, the levels of serum chemokines may serve as convenient biomarkers for disease activity in lupus.
A comprehensive survey of the serologic proteome in human SLE suggests that severely disrupted chemokine gradients may contribute to the systemic autoimmunity observed.
Editors' Summary
The term “lupus,” meaning wolf in Latin, is often used as an abbreviation for the disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The name may have been given because some people with SLE have a rash that slightly resembles a wolf's face. The condition affects around 50 to 100 people per 100,000, and is much more common in women than men. SLE is a complicated disease that comes about when antibodies inappropriately attack the body's own connective tissues, although it is not known why this happens. Symptoms vary between different people; the disease may get better and then worse, without explanation; and can affect many different organs including the skin, joints, kidneys, blood cells, and brain and nervous system. SLE is difficult for doctors to diagnose. Although the disease cannot be cured, patients who are diagnosed with SLE can be treated for their symptoms, and the right management can slow progress of the disease. One area of SLE research focuses on finding “molecular markers” (e.g., proteins or other compounds) that could be tested for in the blood. Researchers hope this would help doctors to more accurately diagnose SLE initially, and then also help to track progress in a patient's condition.
Why Was This Study Done?
“Gene expression” is a term meaning the process by which a gene's DNA sequence is converted into the structures and functions of a cell. These investigators had found in previous studies that certain genes were more “highly expressed” in the blood cells of patients with SLE. Some of these genes were already known to be regulated by interferons (a group of proteins, produced by certain blood cells, that are important in helping to defend against viral infections). The investigators performing this study wanted to understand more clearly the role of interferon in SLE and to see whether the genes that are more highly expressed in patients with SLE go on to produce higher levels of protein, which might then provide useful markers for monitoring the condition.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
This research project was a “case-control” study, in which the researchers compared the levels of certain proteins in the blood of people who had SLE with the levels in people who did not have the condition. Thirty people were recruited as cases, from a group of patients with SLE who have been under evaluation at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine since 1987. Fifteen controls were recruited from a group of healthy people of similar age and sex as the patients with SLE; everyone involved in the study gave their consent to take part. Blood samples were taken from each individual, and the serum (liquid component of blood) was separated out. The serum levels of 160 different blood proteins were then measured. When comparing levels of blood proteins between the groups, the researchers found that 30 specific proteins were present at higher or lower levels in the SLE-affected patients. Many of these proteins are cytokines, which are regulated by interferons and are involved in the process of “signaling” within the immune system. A few proteins were found at lower levels. Levels of the interferon-regulated proteins were, on average, seen at higher levels in people whose condition was more severe.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results suggest that patients with SLE are likely to have a very different pattern of regulation of certain proteins within the blood, particularly the proteins involved in signaling within the immune system. The authors propose that these proteins may be involved in the progression of the disease. There is also the possibility that some of these proteins may prove useful in diagnostic tests, or in tests for monitoring how the disease progresses. However, before any such tests could be used in clinical practice, they would need to be further developed and then thoroughly tested in clinical trials.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Patient information from the UK National Health Service on systemic lupus erythematosus
Patient handout from the US National Institutes of Health
MedlinePLUS encyclopedia entry on lupus
Information on lupus from the UK Arthritis Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC1702557  PMID: 17177599
16.  Selective Involvement of the Amygdala in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e499.
Antibodies specifically affect the amygdala in a mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The aim of our study was to investigate whether there is also specific involvement of the amygdala in human SLE.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed a group of 37 patients with neuropsychiatric SLE (NP-SLE), 21 patients with SLE, and a group of 12 healthy control participants with diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). In addition, in a subset of eight patients, plasma was available to determine their anti-NMDAR antibody status. From the structural magnetic resonance imaging data, the amygdala and the hippocampus were segmented, as well as the white and gray matter, and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) was retrieved. ADC values between controls, patients with SLE, and patients with NP-SLE were tested using analysis of variance with post-hoc Bonferroni correction. No differences were found in the gray or white matter segments. The average ADC in the amygdala of patients with NP-SLE and SLE (940 × 10−6 mm2/s; p = 0.006 and 949 × 10−6 mm2/s; p = 0.019, respectively) was lower than in healthy control participants (1152 × 10−6 mm2/s). Mann-Whitney analysis revealed that the average ADC in the amygdala of patients with anti-NMDAR antibodies (n = 4; 802 × 10−6 mm2/s) was lower (p = 0.029) than the average ADC of patients without anti-NMDAR antibodies (n = 4; 979 × 10−6 mm2/s) and also lower (p = 0.001) than in healthy control participants.
This is the first study to our knowledge to observe damage in the amygdala in patients with SLE. Patients with SLE with anti-NMDAR antibodies had more severe damage in the amygdala compared to SLE patients without anti-NMDAR antibodies.
Patients with SLE who also had antibodies against the NMDA receptor had more severe damage in the amygdala as compared with patients with SLE without these antibodies.
Editors' Summary
The human body is continually attacked by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, but the immune system usually prevents these pathogens from causing disease. To be effective, the immune system has to respond rapidly to foreign antigens (bits of proteins that are unique to the pathogen) but ignore self-antigens. In autoimmune diseases, this ability to discriminate between self and nonself fails for unknown reasons, and the immune system begins to destroy human tissues. In the chronic autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), the immune system attacks the skin, joints, nervous system, and many other organs. Patients with SLE make numerous “autoantibodies” (antibodies are molecules made by the immune system that recognize and attack antigens; autoantibodies attack self-antigens). These autoantibodies start the attack on the body; then other parts of the immune system join in, causing inflammation and forming deposits of immune cells, both of which damage tissues. Common symptoms of SLE include skin rashes and arthritis, but some patients develop NP-SLE, a form of SLE that includes neuropsychiatric symptoms such as amnesia, dementia, mood disorders, strokes, and seizures. There is no cure for SLE, but mild cases are controlled with ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; severe cases are kept in check with corticosteroids and other powerful immunosuppressants.
Why Was This Study Done?
In most of the tissues affected by SLE, the damage done by autoantibodies and immune cells can be seen when the tissues are examined with a microscope. But there is little microscopic damage visible in the brains of patients with NP-SLE. More generally, it is unclear how or even whether the immune system affects mental functions and emotion. In this study, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate whether there are any structural changes in the brains of patients with NP-SLE that could explain their neuropsychiatric symptoms. They have also examined whether any changes in the brain can be linked to the presence of autoantibodies that recognize a protein called the NMDA receptor (anti-NMDAR antibodies) that is present on brain cells.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used an MRI technique called diffusion weighted imaging to examine the brains of several patients with NP-SLE or SLE and the brains of several healthy individuals. Using this technique, it is possible to quantify the amount of structural damage in different regions of the brain. The researchers found no differences in most areas of the brain between the two groups of patients and the healthy controls. However, there were clear signs of damage in the amygdala (the part of the brain that regulates emotions and triggers responses to danger) in the patients with SLE or NP-SLE when compared to the control individuals. The researchers also found that the damage was more severe in the patients who had anti-NMDAR autoantibodies than in those that did not have these autoantibodies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that autoantibodies produced by patients with SLE specifically damage the amygdala, a discovery that helps to explain some of the neuropsychiatric symptoms of this condition. Previous work has shown that the treatment of mice with anti-NMDAR antibodies and epinephrine, a stress hormone that causes leaks in the blood-brain barrier (antibodies can't usually get into the brain because of this barrier), results in damage to the amygdala and a deficient response to dangerous stimuli. The researchers suggest that a similar series of events might happen in SLE—patients often mention that a period of major stress precedes the development of symptoms. To provide stronger evidence for such a scenario, a detailed study of how stress relates to neuropsychiatric symptoms is needed. The damage to the amygdala (and the lack of damage elsewhere in the brain) and the possible association between brain damage and anti-NMDAR antibodies seen in this small study also need to be confirmed in more patients. Nevertheless, these findings provide an intriguing glimpse into the interplay between the immune system and the brain and into how stress might lead to physical damage in the brain.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
MedlinePlus encyclopedia pages on autoimmunity and on systemic lupus erythematosus
US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases booklet for patients with SLE
American College of Rheumatology information for patients on SLE
NHS Direct Online Health Encyclopedia pages on SLE
The Lupus Foundation of America information and support for patients with SLE
PMCID: PMC1702559  PMID: 17177602
17.  Understanding lupus nephritis: diagnosis, management, and treatment options 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) predominantly affects women in their reproductive years. Renal disease (glomerulonephritis) is one of the most frequent and serious manifestations of SLE. Of the various histological types of lupus glomerulonephritis, diffuse proliferative nephritis carries the worst prognosis. Combined with high-dose prednisone, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) has emerged as a first-line immunosuppressive treatment, although data regarding the efficacy of MMF on the long-term preservation of renal function are forthcoming. Cyclophosphamide is reserved for more severe forms of lupus nephritis, such as crescentic glomerulonephritis with rapidly deteriorating renal function, patients with significant renal function impairment at presentation, and refractory renal disease. Evidence for the calcineurin inhibitors in the treatment of lupus nephritis is weaker, and it concerns patients who are intolerant or recalcitrant to other agents. While further controlled trials are mandatory, B cell modulation therapies, such as rituximab, belimumab and epratuzumab are confined to refractory disease. Non-immunosuppressive measures, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, vigorous blood pressure control, prevention and treatment of hyperlipidemia and osteoporosis, are equally important.
PMCID: PMC3367406  PMID: 22675266
lupus; nephritis; nephropathy; glomerulonephritis; treatment; therapy; women
18.  Chemoimmunotherapy Reinduction With Epratuzumab in Children With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Marrow Relapse: A Children's Oncology Group Pilot Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2008;26(22):3756-3762.
To determine the tolerability and serum concentration of epratuzumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody targeting CD22, administered alone and in combination with reinduction chemotherapy in children with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and to preliminarily assess tumor targeting and efficacy.
Patients and Methods
Therapy consisted of a single-agent phase (epratuzumab 360 mg/m2/dose intravenously twice weekly × four doses), followed by four weekly doses of epratuzumab in combination with standard reinduction chemotherapy. Morphologic and minimal residual disease (MRD) responses were determined at the end of this 6-week period. Serum concentrations of epratuzumab were determined before and 30 minutes after infusions, and CD22 targeting efficiency was determined by quantifying changes in CD22 expression after epratuzumab administration.
Fifteen patients (12 fully assessable for toxicity) with first or later CD22-positive ALL marrow relapse enrolled on the feasibility portion of this study from December 2005 to June 2006. Two dose-limiting toxicities occurred: one grade 4 seizure of unclear etiology and one asymptomatic grade 3 ALT elevation. In all but one patient, surface CD22 was not detected by flow cytometry on peripheral blood leukemic blasts within 24 hours of drug administration, indicating effective targeting of leukemic cells by epratuzumab. Nine patients achieved a complete remission after chemoimmunotherapy, seven of whom were MRD negative.
Treatment with epratuzumab plus standard reinduction chemotherapy is feasible and acceptably tolerated in children with relapsed CD22-positive ALL. CD22 targeting was efficient, and the majority of patients achieved favorable early responses.
PMCID: PMC2654811  PMID: 18669463
19.  Dual B Cell Immunotherapy Is Superior to Individual Anti-CD20 Depletion or BAFF Blockade in Murine Models of Spontaneous or Accelerated Lupus 
To determine whether a combination of B cell depletion and BAFF blockade is more effective than monotherapy in treating models of spontaneous or accelerated systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in (NZB × NZW)F1 mice.
Clinical parameters such as disease progression–free survival, proteinuria, and renal injury were assessed in models of spontaneous, interferon-α (IFNα)–accelerated, or pristane-accelerated lupus in (NZB × NZW)F1 mice. Treatment arms included anti-CD20 (B cell depletion), B lymphocyte stimulator receptor 3 fusion protein (BR-3-Fc) (BAFF blockade), the combination of anti-CD20 and BR-3-Fc, isotype control, or cyclophosphamide. In models of spontaneous, IFNα-accelerated, or pristane-accelerated lupus, mice were treated for 24 weeks, 8 weeks, or 12 weeks, respectively. Peripheral and resident B cell subsets and various autoantibodies were examined.
Compared to B cell depletion or BAFF blockade alone, combined therapy significantly improved disease manifestations in all 3 lupus models. In addition, marginal zone B cells, plasmablasts, and circulating and tissue plasma cells were decreased more effectively. Dual B cell immunotherapy also reduced multiple classes of pathogenic autoantibodies, consistent with its observed effectiveness in reducing immune complex–mediated renal injury.
Dual immunotherapy via B cell depletion and BAFF blockade is more efficacious than single agent immunotherapy in murine SLE models, and this combination treatment is predicted to be an effective strategy for immunotherapy in human SLE.
PMCID: PMC4312898  PMID: 25303150
20.  Biologic therapy for autoimmune diseases: an update 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:88.
Biologic therapies for rheumatologic diseases, which are targeted at molecules involved in the mechanisms of the immune system, provide an alternative to the existing treatment methods of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and other immunosuppressive medications. However, the current drawbacks of biologic therapies, including the inconvenience of intravenous administration, the high costs of these drugs, and the adverse events associated with them, prevent their wide use as first-line medications. This review provides an update of the recent literature on the new biologic therapies available. The review concentrates on nine drugs: tocilizumab, rituximab, ofatumumab, belimumab, epratuzumab, abatacept, golimumab, certolizumab, and sifalimumab, which are used as therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, or vasculitis.
PMCID: PMC3616818  PMID: 23557513
Biologics; Anti-TNF; B cell depletion; Autoimmune diseases; Rheumatoid arthritis; Spondyloarthritis; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Systemic sclerosis; Vasculitis
21.  Central retinal vein occlusion in a pediatric patient with SLE and antiphospholipid antibodies without anti-cardiolipin or anti-β2 glycoprotein I antibodies 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:116.
Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome is characterized by venous and/or arterial thrombosis, and is found in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Its diagnosis requires the presence of both clinical and laboratory findings, such as positive anti-cardiolipin and anti-β2 glycoprotein I antibodies and lupus anticoagulant. However, cardiolipin is a minor component of the vascular endothelial cells in human, and phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine are major components.
Case presentation
A 15-year-old female suddenly developed massive left intraretinal hemorrhaging due to central retinal vein occlusion. She also had a butterfly rash, and her laboratory findings revealed positive serum anti-nuclear antibodies and decreased serum complement. During this episode, she was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus. Although she was negative for serum anti-cardiolipin IgG and anti-β2 glycoprotein I antibodies as well as lupus anticoagulant, her serum anti-phosphatidylcholine, anti-phosphatidylethanolamine, anti-phosphatidylinositol and phosphatidylserine IgG antibodies levels were increased.
Pediatric cases of central retinal vein occlusion are rare. Even in patients without anti-cardiolipin or anti-β2 glycoprotein I antibodies and lupus anticoagulant, there is the potential for the development of antiphospholipid antibody-related thrombosis.
PMCID: PMC4028004  PMID: 24885875
Central retinal vein occlusion; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome; Anti-phosphatidylcholine antibody
The critical role of IFNα in the pathogenesis of human systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been highlighted in recent years. Exposure of young lupus-prone NZB/W F1 mice to IFNα in vivo leads to an accelerated lupus phenotype that is dependent on T cells and is associated with elevated serum levels of BAFF, IL-6 and TNFα, increased splenic expression of IL-6 and IL-21, formation of large germinal centers and the generation of large numbers of short-lived plasma cells that produce IgG2a and IgG3 autoantibodies. Here we show that both IgG2a and IgG3 autoantibodies are pathogenic in IFNα accelerated lupus and their production can be dissociated by using low dose CTLA4Ig. Only high dose CTLA4Ig attenuates both IgG2a and IgG3 autoantibody production and significantly delays death from lupus nephritis. In contrast, BAFF/APRIL blockade has no effect on germinal centers or the production of IgG anti-dsDNA antibodies but, if given at the time of IFNα challenge, delays the progression of lupus by attenuating systemic and renal inflammation. Temporary remission of nephritis induced by combination therapy with cyclophosphamide (CTX), anti-CD40L antibody and CTLA4Ig is associated with abrogation of germinal centers and depletion of short-lived plasma cells but relapse occurs more rapidly than in conventional NZB/W F1 mice. Our study demonstrates that IFNα renders NZB/W F1 relatively resistant to therapeutic intervention and suggests that the IFN signature should be taken into account when randomizing patients into and analyzing the results of human clinical trials in SLE.
PMCID: PMC3140572  PMID: 21705616
23.  The role of anti-α-actinin antibodies in the pathogenesis and monitoring of lupus nephritis 
Antibodies to double-stranded DNA are important in the pathogenesis of nephritis, a major clinical manifestation in lupus patients. Since earlier diagnosis of renal involvement may lead to better outcomes, identification of the nephritogenic specificity of lupus-associated autoantibodies is important in understanding the disease, while monitoring their titer clinically may serve as an improved biomarker. Based upon work in animal models and cross-sectional human studies, kidney α-actinin was thought to be a plausible cross-reactive target for pathogenic lupus antibodies. Manson and colleagues longitudinally evaluated anti-nucleosome, anti-DNA, and anti-α-actinin antibodies in 16 lupus patients with new-onset nephritis. While anti-nucleosome and anti-DNA antibody levels were significantly associated and correlated with measures of kidney disease, these were not found to be significant with anti-α-actinin antibodies. While in lupus patients the diagnostic use of serum anti-α-actinin antibodies, alone or with other novel biomarkers, is still under investigation, such studies are vital in improving our monitoring of systemic lupus erythematosus patients and in developing new treatment paradigms that meet the continuing clinical challenge of lupus nephritis.
PMCID: PMC3003496  PMID: 20017900
24.  Epratuzumab for patients with moderate to severe flaring SLE: health-related quality of life outcomes and corticosteroid use in the randomized controlled ALLEVIATE trials and extension study SL0006 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2013;53(3):502-511.
Objective. To evaluate health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and corticosteroid use in patients with moderate to severely active SLE enrolled in two international, multicentre, randomized controlled trials of epratuzumab (ALLEVIATE-1 and -2) and a long-term extension study (SL0006).
Methods. Ninety ALLEVIATE patients (43% BILAG A, mean BILAG score 13.2) were randomized to receive 360 mg/m2 (n = 42) or 720 mg/m2 (n = 11) epratuzumab or placebo (n = 37), plus standard of care, in 12-week cycles. Corticosteroid use, patient and physician global assessments of disease activity (PtGA and PGA) and 36-item Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form (SF-36) results were recorded at baseline and every 4 weeks. Both trials were prematurely discontinued due to a drug supply interruption; patients followed for ≥6 months were analysed. Twenty-nine patients continued in SL0006, with interim analysis at a median exposure of 120 (range 13–184) weeks.
Results. At week 12, proportions of patients with a PGA ≥20% above baseline or with a PtGA improvement greater than or equal to the minimum clinically important difference were higher in the epratuzumab arms than the placebo arm. PGA and PtGA improvements were sustained but did not reach statistical significance. At week 24, mean cumulative corticosteroid doses with epratuzumab 360 and 720 mg/m2 were 1051 and 1973 mg less than placebo (P = 0.034 and 0.081, respectively). At week 48, SF-36 scores approached or exceeded US age- and gender-matched norms in five domains with the 360 mg/m2 treatment. Improvements were maintained in SL0006 over ∼2 years.
Conclusion. Epratuzumab treatment produced clinically meaningful and sustained improvements in PGA, PtGA and HRQOL and reductions in corticosteroid doses.
PMCID: PMC3930886  PMID: 24273022
epratuzumab; CD22; ALLEVIATE; lupus; SLE; HRQOL; SF-36; corticosteroids; clinical trial; monoclonal antibody
25.  353 Alopecia as a Symptom of Neonatal Lupus: A Report of Case 
Neonatal Lupus is a rare disease, described in 1954, which only occurs in children of mothers with antibodies to specific antigens of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Such antigens pass, transplacentally during gestation and is characterized by cutaneous manifestations such as rash, erythematous macules, papules or plaques which tend to coalesce; less frequent are blood disorders including aplastic anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, hemolytic anemia, pancytopenia; liver disorders with elevated liver enzymes and cholestasis; central nervous system disease such as mielopaias, convulsions; pulmonary as pneumonitis, and gastrointestinal tract such as bloody diarrhea. Alopecia is a common symptom in SLE but has not been reported in the literature in neonatal presentation.
Case report: A 1 month and 4 day old infant female, who presented 3 days after birth with a persistent bloody diarrhea, without mucus also presents dehydration and metabolic acidosis that warrant intravenous correction. An infectious etiology is discarded and is referred to an allergist for study of a possible lactose intolerance which is discarded initially. However, the physical finding of hair loss is evident with areas of alopecia which together with the persistence of the diarrhea and rash is suspect of a possible immunological etiology. Therefore, it was decided to test Anti-Ro autoimmunity in the infant and his mother; given a positive results.
With the Anti-Ro test the presence of Neonatal Lupus is confirmed. A treatment with EV-dose methylprednisolone was initiated, which had little clinical response, meriting a treatment with azathioprine with a good clinical response, which improved and reduced Anti-Ro values.
The importance of clinical observation is evident when there are unusual features which allows for a rare diagnosis. This striking case, given the unusual presentation with alopecia which together with the clinical observations was indicative of this disease, and not of other syndromes characteristic of this age, like sepsis.
PMCID: PMC3512969

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