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1.  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
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
6.  Umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in active and refractory systemic lupus erythematosus: a multicenter clinical study 
In our present single-center pilot study, umbilical cord (UC)–derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) had a good safety profile and therapeutic effect in severe and refractory systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The present multicenter clinical trial was undertaken to assess the safety and efficacy of allogeneic UC MSC transplantation (MSCT) in patients with active and refractory SLE.
Forty patients with active SLE were recruited from four clinical centers in China. Allogeneic UC MSCs were infused intravenously on days 0 and 7. The primary endpoints were safety profiles. The secondary endpoints included major clinical response (MCR), partial clinical response (PCR) and relapse. Clinical indices, including Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) score, British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) score and renal functional indices, were also taken into account.
The overall survival rate was 92.5% (37 of 40 patients). UC-MSCT was well tolerated, and no transplantation-related adverse events were observed. Thirteen and eleven patients achieved MCR (13 of 40, 32.5%) and PCR (11 of 40, 27.5%), respectively, during 12 months of follow up. Three and four patients experienced disease relapse at 9 months (12.5%) and 12 months (16.7%) of follow-up, respectively, after a prior clinical response. SLEDAI scores significantly decreased at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months follow-up. Total BILAG scores markedly decreased at 3 months and continued to decrease at subsequent follow-up visits. BILAG scores for renal, hematopoietic and cutaneous systems significantly improved. Among those patients with lupus nephritis, 24-hour proteinuria declined after transplantation, with statistically differences at 9 and 12 months. Serum creatinine and urea nitrogen decreased to the lowest level at 6 months, but these values slightly increased at 9 and 12 months in seven relapse cases. In addition, serum levels of albumin and complement 3 increased after MSCT, peaked at 6 months and then slightly declined by the 9- and 12-month follow-up examinations. Serum antinuclear antibody and anti-double-stranded DNA antibody decreased after MSCT, with statistically significant differences at 3-month follow-up examinations.
UC-MSCT results in satisfactory clinical response in SLE patients. However, in our present study, several patients experienced disease relapse after 6 months, indicating the necessity to repeat MSCT after 6 months.
Trial registry identifier: NCT01741857. Registered 26 September 2012.
PMCID: PMC4060570  PMID: 24661633
7.  British isles lupus assessment group 2004 index is valid for assessment of disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2007;56(12):4113-4119.
To determine the construct and criterion validity of the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group 2004 (BILAG-2004) index for assessing disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Patients with SLE were recruited into a multicenter cross-sectional study. Data on SLE disease activity (scores on the BILAG-2004 index, Classic BILAG index, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index 2000 [SLEDAI-2K]), investigations, and therapy were collected. Overall BILAG-2004 and overall Classic BILAG scores were determined by the highest score achieved in any of the individual systems in the respective index. Erythrocyte sedimentation rates (ESRs), C3 levels, C4 levels, anti–double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) levels, and SLEDAI-2K scores were used in the analysis of construct validity, and increase in therapy was used as the criterion for active disease in the analysis of criterion validity. Statistical analyses were performed using ordinal logistic regression for construct validity and logistic regression for criterion validity. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) were calculated.
Of the 369 patients with SLE, 92.7% were women, 59.9% were white, 18.4% were Afro-Caribbean and 18.4% were South Asian. Their mean ± SD age was 41.6 ± 13.2 years and mean disease duration was 8.8 ± 7.7 years. More than 1 assessment was obtained on 88.6% of the patients, and a total of 1,510 assessments were obtained. Increasing overall scores on the BILAG-2004 index were associated with increasing ESRs, decreasing C3 levels, decreasing C4 levels, elevated anti-dsDNA levels, and increasing SLEDAI-2K scores (all P < 0.01). Increase in therapy was observed more frequently in patients with overall BILAG-2004 scores reflecting higher disease activity. Scores indicating active disease (overall BILAG-2004 scores of A and B) were significantly associated with increase in therapy (odds ratio [OR] 19.3, P < 0.01). The BILAG-2004 and Classic BILAG indices had comparable sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV.
These findings show that the BILAG-2004 index has construct and criterion validity.
PMCID: PMC2659367  PMID: 18050213
8.  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
9.  Correlation of 9G4 idiotope with disease activity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1998;57(9):566-570.
OBJECTIVE—To compare the levels of the 9G4 idiotope (9G4 Id) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients with a detailed disease activity index, the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) index, and serological parameters of disease activity by ds DNA antibody levels and serum C3 concentrations.
METHODS—In a cross sectional analysis serum samples from 190 patients with SLE were studied and a further 55 serial bleeds from 14 patients. An enzyme linked immunosorbent assay was used to measure the 9G4 Id, and anti dsDNA and anti-myeloperoxidase (MPO) antibodies. The C3 levels were measured by laser nephelometer.
RESULTS—Seventy six of 190 (40%) of the patients tested had raised 9G4 Id levels. In the cross sectional study 9G4 Id levels were found to correlate with disease activity in the BILAG cardiovascular/respiratory renal, and haematological systems and with global BILAG score (p<0.01). In the serial bleeds 9G4 Id levels correlated with anti-dsDNA antibody and C3 levels, but not with anti-MPO antibodies. No correlations were found with treatment. In six cases the 9G4 Id levels correlated well with global BILAG scores and dsDNA antibody levels. In four cases the BILAG global and 9G4 Id levels alone correlated well.
CONCLUSIONS—Raised levels of the 9G4 Id are present in a substantial proportion of serum samples from patients with lupus, correlate with various aspects of disease activity in SLE. The Id is detectable on anti-dsDNA antibodies, though it must also be present on other immunoglobulins whose specificities remain unknown.

 Keywords: systemic lupus erythematosus; 9G4 idiotope
PMCID: PMC1752742  PMID: 9849317
10.  Anti-C1q antibodies in nephritis: correlation between titres and renal disease activity and positive predictive value in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2004;64(3):444-448.
Objective: To investigate antibodies to complement 1q (anti-C1q) and investigate the correlation between anti-C1q titres and renal disease in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: 151 SLE patients were studied. In patients with biopsy proven lupus nephritis (n = 77), activity of renal disease was categorised according to the BILAG renal score. Sera were tested for anti-C1q by enzyme immunoassay. Serum samples were randomly selected from 83 SLE patients who had no history of renal disease, and the positive and negative predictive value of the antibodies was studied.
Results: Patients with active lupus nephritis (BILAG A or B) had a higher prevalence of anti-C1q than those with no renal disease (74% v 32%; relative risk (RR) = 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.6 to 3.3)) (p<0.0001). There was no significant difference in anti-C1q prevalence between SLE without nephritis and SLE with non-active nephritis (BILAG C or D) (32% v 53%, p = 0.06) or between active and non-active nephritis (74% v 53%, p = 0.06). Patients with nephritis had higher anti-C1q levels than those without nephritis (36.0 U/ml (range 4.9 to 401.0) v 7.3 U/ml (4.9 to 401.0)) (p<0.001). Anti-C1q were found in 33 of 83 patients (39%) without history of renal disease. Nine of the 33 patients with anti-C1q developed lupus nephritis. The median renal disease-free interval was nine months. One patient with positive anti-C1q was diagnosed as having hypocomplementaemic urticarial vasculitis syndrome during follow up.
Conclusions: Anti-C1q in SLE are associated with renal involvement. Monitoring anti-C1q and their titres in SLE patients could be important for predicting renal flares.
PMCID: PMC1755385  PMID: 15286009
11.  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
12.  Investigation of the prevalence and clinical associations of antibodies to human fibronectin in systemic lupus erythematosus. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1995;54(2):117-124.
OBJECTIVES--To assess the prevalence of antibodies to human fibronectin (anti-Fn) in sera of patients with certain connective tissue diseases and to determine their association with disease activity and the pattern of organ involvement in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). METHODS--A capture enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed to quantify anti-Fn antibodies in serum samples from 65 patients with well characterised SLE, 50 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 15 with Behçet's disease (BD), 15 with systemic vasculitis and 36 healthy subjects. An anti-Fn antibody titre greater than mean + 3SD of the healthy control log values after back transformation to the normal scale was considered positive. Disease activity in SLE patients was scored using the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) Index. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), concentrations of anti-dsDNA antibody, soluble interleukin-2 receptors (sIL-2R), C3, C4, C3 degradation products (C3dg) and immunoglobulin, and antinuclear antibody (ANA) titres were measured in blood samples from SLE patients; neopterin concentration was measured in corresponding urine samples. RESULTS--Anti-Fn antibodies were found in 22 of 65 SLE patients (33.8%), seven of 50 with RA (14%), one of 15 with BD (6.6%) and none of the 15 subjects with vasculitis. Thirty SLE patients had active disease and 35 had inactive disease; their median anti-Fn concentrations were 117 u/ml (range 47-450) and 68 u/ml (range 17-334), respectively (p = 0.0001). The presence of anti-Fn did not correlate with immunoglobulin concentrations or ANA titres in these sera. No significant difference was found between SLE patients with disease activity in one major organ system compared with multiple organ involvement, as defined by BILAG (p = 0.19). However, patients with musculoskeletal manifestations had consistently greater anti-Fn concentrations compared with patients with other clinical manifestations. There were significant correlations between amounts of anti-Fn in SLE sera and ESR (rs = 0.25, p = 0.045), sIL-2R (rs = 0.28, p = 0.024) and urine neopterin (rs = 0.3, p = 0.016) but not with serum anti-dsDNA antibody titres, plasma C3, C3dg or C4. However multiple regression analysis showed a low significant correlation only with sIL-2R and BILAG score (p = 0.047 and 0.042, respectively). CONCLUSION--Anti-Fn antibodies were detected in 34% of SLE patients and in small proportions of RA and BD patients. An association between serum anti-Fn and disease activity in SLE has been identified and most SLE patients with musculoskeletal involvement had increased anti-Fn antibody concentrations.
PMCID: PMC1005533  PMID: 7702398
13.  Further validation of the BILAG disease activity index in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1996;55(10):756-760.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the association among the BILAG disease activity index components and their relations with global assessments, health status, and laboratory tests with regard to the validity of the BILAG index. METHODS: A cross sectional study of consecutive patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) attending a specialist lupus outpatient clinic between July 1994 and February 1995. The internal consistency of the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) index-a disease activity assessment system for SLE patients, based on the principle of the physician's intention to treat-was examined using Cronbach's coefficient alpha. The association of the components of the BILAG index with health status as measured with the MOS Short Form 20 (SF-20), with patients' and doctors' global assessments of patient wellbeing and with laboratory tests was analysed with Spearman rank correlations. RESULTS: 133 female and eight male patients, age 20.1 to 88.7 years (mean 41.1, SD 12.5), were included. With few exceptions, the components of the BILAG index which reflect disease activity in different organ systems were not associated with each other. With the exception of the mucocutaneous component, we found a significant relation between all components of BILAG and global assessment of patient wellbeing, health status, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, or serum C3 level. CONCLUSIONS: The study confirms the validity of all but the mucocutaneous component of the BILAG index. However, disease activity in different organ systems in SLE does not follow a common pattern. Thus the individual BILAG components should be used rather than the total BILAG score as a primary endpoint in clinical and epidemiological studies. To capture the total effect of SLE on an individual measures of disease activity, damage, and health status are all needed.
PMCID: PMC1010295  PMID: 8984942
14.  Serum levels of autoantibodies against C-reactive protein correlate with renal disease activity and response to therapy in lupus nephritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R188.
Serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) seldom reflect disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We have previously shown that autoantibodies against neo-epitopes of CRP often occur in SLE, but that this does not explain the modest CRP response seen in flares. However, we have repeatedly found that anti-CRP levels parallel lupus disease activity, with highest levels in patients with renal involvement; thus, we aimed to study anti-CRP in a material of well-characterized lupus nephritis patients.
Thirty-eight patients with lupus nephritis were included. Treatment with corticosteroids combined with cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate mofetil or rituximab was started after baseline kidney biopsy. A second biopsy was taken after ≥ 6 months. Serum creatinine, cystatin C, complement, anti-dsDNA, anti-CRP and urinalysis were done on both occasions. Biopsies were evaluated regarding World Health Organisation (WHO) class and indices of activity and chronicity. Renal disease activity was estimated using the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) index.
At baseline, 34/38 patients had renal BILAG-A; 4/38 had BILAG-B. Baseline biopsies showed WHO class III (n = 8), IV (n = 19), III to IV/V (n = 3) or V (n = 8) nephritis. Seventeen out of 38 patients were anti-CRP-positive at baseline, and six at follow-up. Overall, anti-CRP levels had dropped at follow-up (P < 0.0001) and anti-CRP levels correlated with renal BILAG (r = 0.29, P = 0.012). A positive anti-CRP test at baseline was superior to anti-dsDNA and C1q in predicting poor response to therapy as judged by renal BILAG. Baseline anti-CRP levels correlated with renal biopsy activity (r = 0.33, P = 0.045), but not with chronicity index. Anti-CRP levels were positively correlated with anti-dsDNA (fluorescence-enhanced immunoassay: r = 0.63, P = 0.0003; Crithidia luciliae immunofluorescence microscopy test: r = 0.44, P < 0.0001), and inversely with C3 (r = 0.35, P = 0.007) and C4 (r = 0.29, P = 0.02), but not with C1q (r = 0.14, P = 0.24). No associations with urinary components, creatinine, cystatin C or the glomerular filtration rate were found.
In the present study, we demonstrate a statistically significant correlation between anti-CRP levels and histopathological activity in lupus nephritis, whereas a baseline positive anti-CRP test predicted poor response to therapy. Our data also confirm previous findings of associations between anti-CRP and disease activity. This indicates that anti-CRP could be helpful to assess disease activity and response to therapy in SLE nephritis, and highlights the hypothesis of a pathogenetic role for anti-CRP antibodies in lupus nephritis.
PMCID: PMC3003497  PMID: 20003354
15.  Effects of belimumab, a B lymphocyte stimulator-specific inhibitor, on disease activity across multiple organ domains in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: combined results from two phase III trials 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;71(11):1833-1838.
To evaluate the effects of belimumab versus placebo, plus standard systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) therapy, on organ domain-specific SLE disease activity.
Data obtained after 52 weeks of treatment from two phase III trials (BLISS-52 and BLISS-76) comparing belimumab 1 and 10 mg/kg versus placebo, plus standard therapy, in 1684 autoantibody-positive patients were analysed post hoc for changes in British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) and Safety of Estrogens in Lupus National Assessment–Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SELENA–SLEDAI) organ domain scores.
At baseline, the domains involved in the majority of patients were musculoskeletal and mucocutaneous by both BILAG and SELENA–SLEDAI, and immunological by SELENA–SLEDAI. At 52 weeks, significantly more patients treated with belimumab versus placebo had improvement in BILAG musculoskeletal and mucocutaneous domains (1 and 10 mg/kg), and in SELENA–SLEDAI mucocutaneous (10 mg/kg), musculoskeletal (1 mg/kg) and immunological (1 and 10 mg/kg) domains. Improvement was also observed in other organ systems with a low prevalence (≤16%) at baseline, including the SELENA–SLEDAI vasculitis and central nervous system domains. Significantly fewer patients treated with belimumab versus placebo had worsening in the BILAG haematological domain (1 mg/kg) and in the SELENA–SLEDAI immunological (10 mg/kg), haematological (10 mg/kg) and renal (1 mg/kg) domains.
Belimumab treatment improved overall SLE disease activity in the most common musculoskeletal and mucocutaneous organ domains. Less worsening occurred in the haematological, immunological and renal domains.
PMCID: PMC3465857  PMID: 22550315
16.  B cell depletion therapy in systemic lupus erythematosus: long‐term follow‐up and predictors of response 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(9):1259-1262.
To describe the long‐term clinical outcome and safety profile of B cell depletion therapy (BCDT) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It was also determined whether baseline parameters can predict the likelihood of disease flare.
32 patients with refractory SLE were treated with BCDT using a combination protocol (rituximab and cyclo‐phosphamide). Patients were assessed with the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) activity index, and baseline serology was measured. Flare was defined as a new BILAG ‘A' or two new subsequent ‘B's in any organ system.
Of the 32 patients, 12 have remained well after one cycle of BCDT (median follow‐up 39 months). BCDT was followed by a decrease of median global BILAG scores from 13 to 5 at 6 months (p = 0.006). Baseline anti‐extractable nuclear antigen (ENA) was the only identified independent predictor of flare post‐BCDT (p = 0.034, odds ratio = 8, 95% CI 1.2 to 55) from multivariable analysis. Patients with low baseline serum C3 had a shorter time to flare post‐BCDT (p = 0.008). Four serious adverse events were observed.
Autoantibody profiling may help identify patients who will have a more sustained response. Although the long‐term safety profile of BCDT is favourable, ongoing vigilance is recommended.
PMCID: PMC1955162  PMID: 17412738
17.  Novel Evidence-Based Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Responder Index 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;61(9):1143-1151.
To describe a new systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) Responder Index (SRI) based on the belimumab phase II SLE trial and demonstrate its potential utility in SLE clinical trials.
Data from a 449-patient randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 3 doses of belimumab (1, 4, 10 mg/kg) or placebo plus standard of care therapy (SOC) over a 56-week period were analyzed. SELENA-SLEDAI and BILAG SLE disease activity instruments, SF-36 Health Survey, and biomarker analyses were used to create a novel SRI. Response to treatment in a subset of SLE patients (n=321) who were serologically active (ANA ≥1:80 and/or anti-dsDNA antibody ≥30 IU) at baseline was retrospectively evaluated using the SRI.
SRI response is defined as: 1) ≥4-point reduction in SELENA-SLEDAI score; 2) no new BILAG A or no more than 1 new BILAG B domain score; and 3) no deterioration from baseline in the Physician’s Global Assessment (PGA) by ≥0.3 points. In serologically active patients, addition of belimumab to SOC resulted in a response in 46% of patients at week 52 compared with 29% for the placebo patients (P=0.006). SRI responses were independent of baseline autoantibody subtype.
Evidence-based evaluation of a large randomized, placebo-controlled trial in SLE resulted in the ability to define a robust responder index based on improvement in disease activity without worsening of the overall condition or the development of significant disease activity in new organ systems.
PMCID: PMC2748175  PMID: 19714615
18.  Clinical, laboratory and health-related quality of life correlates of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Responder Index response: a post hoc analysis of the phase 3 belimumab trials 
Lupus Science & Medicine  2014;1(1):e000031.
Correlates of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) Responder Index (SRI) response with clinical trial end points were examined using pooled data from the Study of Belimumab in Subjects with SLE (BLISS) trials (N=1684).
Changes in clinical, laboratory and health-related quality of life measures from baseline at 52 weeks were compared between SRI responders (n=761) and non-responders (n=923).
More SRI responders than non-responders had ≥4-point (100% vs 3.8%) and ≥7-point (40.3% vs 1.3%) Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index reductions, no new British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) A and ≤1 new B scores (91.9% vs 35.9%), and a 25% reduction in corticosteroid dose decrease of 25% from >7.5 mg/d to ≤7.5 mg/d (25.5% vs 13.9%), and fewer had a corticosteroid increase from ≤7.5 mg/d to >7.5 mg/d (4.1% vs 21.3%; all p<0.001). More responders than non-responders had improved organ domains: Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (mean 1.45 vs 0.40), BILAG (2.00 vs 0.39), and greater improvement in Physician's Global Assessment (all p<0.001). Risks for developing any SLE flare or severe flare were reduced in responders by 42% and 87%, respectively (p<0.001). Responders reported greater improvements in Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form version 2 Physical and Mental Components and all domain scores, and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue score compared with non-responders (all p<0.001).
Overall, SRI response in patients with active, autoantibody-positive SLE was associated with improvements in clinical, laboratory and patient-reported outcome measures, indicating that SRI response was associated with a global benefit.
Trial registration number
NCT00424476; NCT00410384.
PMCID: PMC4225741  PMID: 25396065
Belimumab; Bilag; Facit-Fatigue; Health-Related Quality of Life; PGA
19.  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
20.  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
21.  Rapamycin Reduces Disease Activity and Normalizes T Cell Activation–Induced Calcium Fluxing in Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2006;54(9):2983-2988.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease of unknown origin. Current treatment options are often ineffective or poorly tolerated. Recent observations have revealed mitochondrial hyperpolarization and enhanced Ca2+ fluxing in T cells from SLE patients. Rapamycin, a lipophilic macrolide antibiotic that regulates mitochondrial transmembrane potential and Ca2+ fluxing, has been used safely and effectively to treat renal transplant rejection since 1999. In addition, rapamycin has been shown to ameliorate T cell function and to prolong survival in lupus-prone MRL/lpr mice. We therefore undertook the present study to investigate whether rapamycin is beneficial in patients with SLE.
Nine patients with clinically active SLE that had been treated unsuccessfully with other immunosuppressive medications began therapy with rapamycin, 2 mg/day orally. Disease activity was assessed with the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) score, SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI), and requirement for prednisone therapy. Mitochondrial transmembrane potential and Ca2+ fluxing were assessed by flow cytometry.
In patients treated with rapamycin, the BILAG score was reduced by a mean ± SEM of 1.93 ± 0.9 (P = 0.0218), the SLEDAI by 5.3 ± 0.8 (P = 0.00002), and concurrent prednisone use by 26.4 ± 6.7 mg/day (P = 0.0062) compared with pre–rapamycin treatment. While mitochondrial hyperpolarization persisted, pretreatment cytosolic and mitochondrial Ca2+ levels and T cell activation–induced rapid Ca2+ fluxing were normalized in rapamycin-treated patients.
Rapamycin appears to be a safe and effective therapy for SLE that has been refractory to traditional medications. Mitochondrial dysfunction and Ca2+ fluxing could serve as biomarkers to guide decisions regarding future therapeutic interventions in SLE.
PMCID: PMC4034146  PMID: 16947529
22.  TAM receptor ligands in lupus: Protein S but not Gas6 levels reflect disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(4):R146.
The TAM (tyro 3, axl, mer) kinases are key regulators of innate immunity and are important in the phagocytosis of apoptotic cells. Gas6 and protein S are ligands for these TAM kinases and bind to phosphatidyl serine residues exposed during apoptosis. In animal models, absence of TAM kinases is associated with lupus-like disease. To test whether human systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients might have deficient levels of TAM ligands, we measured Gas 6 and protein S levels in SLE.
107 SLE patients were recruited. Of these, 45 SLE patients were matched age, gender and ethnicity with normal controls (NC). Gas6 and free protein S were measured with sandwich enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs).
Overall, the plasma concentrations of Gas6 and free protein S were not different between 45 SLE patients and 45 NC. In SLE patients, the levels of free protein S were positively correlated with age (r = 0.2405, P = 0.0126), however those of Gas6 were not. There was no correlation between the concentrations of Gas6 and free protein S in individuals. Levels of free protein S were significantly lower in SLE patients with a history of serositis, neurologic disorder, hematologic disorder and immunologic disorder. Gas6 levels were elevated in patients with a history of neurologic disorder. The SLE patients with anti-Sm or anti-cardiolipin IgG showed lower free protein S levels. Circulating free protein S was positively correlated with complement component 3 (C3) (r = 0.3858, P < 0.0001) and complement component 4 (C4) (r = 0.4275, P < 0.0001). In the patients with active BILAG hematologic involvement, the levels of free protein S were lower and those of Gas6 were higher.
In SLE, free protein S was decreased in patients with certain types of clinical history and disease activity. Levels of free protein S were strongly correlated with C3 and C4 levels. Gas6 levels in SLE patients differed little from levels in NC, but they were elevated in the small numbers of patients with a history of neurological disease. The correlation of decreased protein S levels with lupus disease activity is consistent with a role for the TAM receptors in scavenging apoptotic cells and controlling inflammation. Protein S appears more important functionally in SLE patients than Gas6 in this regard.
PMCID: PMC2945040  PMID: 20637106
23.  Pharmacokinetics and tolerability of human mouse chimeric anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody in Chinese patients with CD22-positive non-Hodgkin lymphoma 
mAbs  2012;4(2):256-266.
The safety and pharmacokinetics assessment of antibodies targeting CD22 (e.g., epratuzumab) have been established in western Caucasian populations, but there are no reports of the effects in Chinese populations. This dose-escalation study examines the safety, pharmacokinetics and biologic effects of multiple doses of anti-CD22 human-murine chimeric monoclonal antibody SM03 in 21 Chinese patients with CD22-positive non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Most of drug-related adverse events (AEs) were mild and reversible. Two patients experienced serious AEs (hemorrhage); one patient had grade 4 neutropenia; one patient had asymptomatic grade III prolongation of activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT). Major AEs included fever (71%), prolongation of APTT (42.8%), leukocytopenia (44.4%), alanine transaminase elevation (28.6%), elevated serum creatinine (23.8%) and injection site skin redness (14.3%). Circulating B cells transiently decreased without significant effects on T cells or immunoglobulin levels. Pharmacokinetic data revealed that mean maximum observed SM03 concentration and mean AUC from time zero to infinity increased in a dose-dependent manner up to 360 mg/m2 SM03. Mean clearance was similar at doses ≤360 mg/m2 and decreased significantly at dose 480 mg/m2, supporting saturation of B-cell binding at 360 mg/m2. Across all dose levels and histologies, one patient achieved partial response at 480 mg/m2 dose; 14 patients had stable disease as best response and four patients progressed. Overall, SM03 was tolerated at doses ranging from 60–480 mg/m2 and had potential efficacy in Chinese patients with follicular lymphoma.
PMCID: PMC3361661  PMID: 22453099
anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody; tolerance; pharmacokinetics
24.  Urine neopterin as a parameter of disease activity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: comparisons with serum sIL-2R and antibodies to dsDNA, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and plasma C3, C4, and C3 degradation products. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1993;52(6):429-435.
OBJECTIVES--To investigate urine neopterin as a parameter of disease activity in an unselected group of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and to study the relation between urine neopterin and certain patterns of organ disease and differing drug regimens in the treatment of SLE. METHODS--Neopterin was determined by high performance liquid chromatography in 115 early morning urine samples from 68 patients with SLE. Serum soluble interleukin 2 receptor (sIL-2R) and antibodies to double stranded DNA (dsDNA) were determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), plasma C3, C4, and C3 degradation products (C3dg) were measured in corresponding blood samples. Disease activity was scored using the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) index. RESULTS--Urine neopterin was significantly increased in patients with active and inactive SLE compared with the control group and was significantly higher in patients with active than in those with inactive SLE. Urine neopterin did not distinguish between subsets of patients with SLE with particular patterns of organ disease, as defined by the BILAG index, nor was its level primarily influenced by differing drug regimens. Levels of serum sIL-2R, antibodies to dsDNA, the ESR, and plasma C3, C4, and C3dg were also significantly different between the patients with active and inactive SLE. Unlike urine neopterin there was considerable overlap in the values of these parameters between the two activity groups. Highly significant correlations found between urine neopterin and serum sIL-2R, ESR, and plasma C3, C4, and C3dg suggest the close association of neopterin with clinical activity in SLE. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that urine neopterin > 300 mumol/mol creatinine was a highly significant predictor of disease activity with an odds ratio of 3.51. CONCLUSIONS--Determination of urine neopterin, a non-invasive, relatively simple and inexpensive measurement, appears to be the best parameter for assessing and monitoring disease activity and treatment in patients with SLE.
PMCID: PMC1005067  PMID: 8323394
25.  Repeated B cell depletion in treatment of refractory systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2005;65(7):942-945.
To report the clinical outcome and safety profile of repeated B cell depletion in seven patients with refractory systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Since June 2000, seven patients with refractory SLE had repeated cycles of B cell depletion (18 cycles in total, up to three cycles per patient) because of disease relapse. The clinical response (assessed by the British Isles Lupus Activity Guide (BILAG) activity index), duration of B cell depletion, and adverse events in these patients was reviewed.
Four patients (Nos 1, 2, 3, 6) had three cycles of treatment and three (Nos 4, 5, 7) had two cycles. Four of the seven patients (Nos 1, 3, 5, 6) improved. The mean global BILAG scores dropped from 15 to 6 at 5–7 months. The median duration of clinical response and B cell depletion was 13 months and 6 months, respectively. After the third cycle, 2/4 patients (Nos 1 and 2) improved. The median duration of clinical benefit was 12 months. Most patients tolerate re‐treatment very well.
Re‐treatment with B cell depletion of patients with severe SLE is safe and may be effective for 6–12 months on average.
PMCID: PMC1798232  PMID: 16269424
systemic lupus erythematosus; rituximab; re‐treatment; B cell depletion

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