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1.  IRF5 haplotypes demonstrate diverse serological associations which predict serum interferon alpha activity and explain the majority of the genetic association with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(3):463-468.
High serum interferon α (IFNα) activity is a heritable risk factor for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Auto-antibodies found in SLE form immune complexes which can stimulate IFNα production by activating endosomal Toll-like receptors and interferon regulatory factors (IRFs), including IRF5. Genetic variation in IRF5 is associated with SLE susceptibility; however, it is unclear how IRF5 functional genetic elements contribute to human disease.
1034 patients with SLE and 989 controls of European ancestry, 555 patients with SLE and 679 controls of African–American ancestry, and 73 patients with SLE of South African ancestry were genotyped at IRF5 polymorphisms, which define major haplotypes. Serum IFNα activity was measured using a functional assay.
In European ancestry subjects, anti-double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and anti-Ro antibodies were each associated with different haplotypes characterised by a different combination of functional genetic elements (OR > 2.56, p >003C; 1.9×10−14 for both). These IRF5 haplotype-auto-antibody associations strongly predicted higher serum IFNα in patients with SLE and explained > 70% of the genetic risk of SLE due to IRF5. In African–American patients with SLE a similar relationship between serology and IFNα was observed, although the previously described European ancestry-risk haplotype was present at admixture proportions in African–American subjects and absent in African patients with SLE.
The authors define a novel risk haplotype of IRF5 that is associated with anti-dsDNA antibodies and show that risk of SLE due to IRF5 genotype is largely dependent upon particular auto-antibodies. This suggests that auto-antibodies are directly pathogenic in human SLE, resulting in increased IFNα in cooperation with particular combinations of IRF5 functional genetic elements.
SLE is a systemic autoimmune disorder affecting multiple organ systems including the skin, musculoskeletal, renal and haematopoietic systems. Humoral autoimmunity is a hallmark of SLE, and patients frequently have circulating auto-antibodies directed against dsDNA, as well as RNA binding proteins (RBP). Anti-RBP autoantibodies include antibodies which recognize Ro, La, Smith (anti-Sm), and ribonucleoprotein (anti-nRNP), collectively referred to as anti-retinol-binding protein). Anti-retinol-binding protein and anti-dsDNA auto-antibodies are rare in the healthy population.1 These auto-antibodies can be present in sera for years preceding the onset of clinical SLE illness2 and are likely pathogenic in SLE.34
PMCID: PMC3307526  PMID: 22088620
2.  Differential Genetic Associations for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Based on Anti–dsDNA Autoantibody Production 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(3):e1001323.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a clinically heterogeneous, systemic autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody formation. Previously published genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have investigated SLE as a single phenotype. Therefore, we conducted a GWAS to identify genetic factors associated with anti–dsDNA autoantibody production, a SLE–related autoantibody with diagnostic and clinical importance. Using two independent datasets, over 400,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were studied in a total of 1,717 SLE cases and 4,813 healthy controls. Anti–dsDNA autoantibody positive (anti–dsDNA +, n = 811) and anti–dsDNA autoantibody negative (anti–dsDNA –, n = 906) SLE cases were compared to healthy controls and to each other to identify SNPs associated specifically with these SLE subtypes. SNPs in the previously identified SLE susceptibility loci STAT4, IRF5, ITGAM, and the major histocompatibility complex were strongly associated with anti–dsDNA + SLE. Far fewer and weaker associations were observed for anti–dsDNA – SLE. For example, rs7574865 in STAT4 had an OR for anti–dsDNA + SLE of 1.77 (95% CI 1.57–1.99, p = 2.0E-20) compared to an OR for anti–dsDNA – SLE of 1.26 (95% CI 1.12–1.41, p = 2.4E-04), with pheterogeneity<0.0005. SNPs in the SLE susceptibility loci BANK1, KIAA1542, and UBE2L3 showed evidence of association with anti–dsDNA + SLE and were not associated with anti–dsDNA – SLE. In conclusion, we identified differential genetic associations with SLE based on anti–dsDNA autoantibody production. Many previously identified SLE susceptibility loci may confer disease risk through their role in autoantibody production and be more accurately described as autoantibody propensity loci. Lack of strong SNP associations may suggest that other types of genetic variation or non-genetic factors such as environmental exposures have a greater impact on susceptibility to anti–dsDNA – SLE.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can involve virtually any organ system. SLE patients produce antibodies that bind to their own cells and proteins (autoantibodies) which can cause irreversible organ damage. One particular SLE–related autoantibody directed at double-stranded DNA (anti–dsDNA) is associated with kidney involvement and more severe disease. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in SLE have studied SLE itself, not particular SLE manifestations. Therefore, we conducted this GWAS of anti–dsDNA autoantibody production to identify genetic associations with this clinically important autoantibody. We found that many previously identified SLE–associated genes are more strongly associated with anti–dsDNA autoantibody production than SLE itself, and they may be more accurately described as autoantibody propensity genes. No strong genetic associations were observed for SLE patients who do not produce anti–dsDNA autoantibodies, suggesting that other factors may have more influence in developing this type of SLE. Further investigation of these autoantibody propensity genes may lead to greater insight into the causes of autoantibody production and organ damage in SLE.
PMCID: PMC3048371  PMID: 21408207
3.  Analysis of Gender Differences in Genetic Risk: Association of TNFAIP3 Polymorphism with Male Childhood-Onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in the Japanese Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72551.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic multisystem autoimmune disorder influenced by genetic background and environmental factors. Our aim here was to replicate findings of associations between 7 of the implicated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IRF5, BLK, STAT4, TNFAIP3, SPP1, TNIP1 and ETS1 genes with susceptibility to childhood-onset SLE in the Japanese population. In particular, we focused on gender differences in allelic frequencies.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The 7 SNPs were genotyped using TaqMan assays in 75 patients with childhood-onset SLE and in 190 healthy controls. The relationship between the cumulative number of risk alleles and SLE manifestations was explored in childhood-onset SLE. Logistic regression was used to test the effect of each polymorphism on susceptibility to SLE, and Wilcoxon rank sum testing was used for comparison of total risk alleles. Data on rs7574865 in the STAT4 gene and rs9138 in SPP1 were replicated for associations with SLE when comparing cases and controls (corrected P values ranging from 0.0043 to 0.027). The rs2230926 allele of TNFAIP3 was associated with susceptibility to SLE in males, but after Bonferroni correction there were no significant associations with any of the other four SNPs in IRF5, BLK, TNIP1 and ETS1 genes. The cumulative number of risk alleles was significantly increased in childhood-onset SLE relative to healthy controls (P = 0.0000041). Male SLE patients had a slightly but significantly higher frequency of the TNFAIP3 (rs2230926G) risk allele than female patients (odds ratio [OR] = 4.05, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] = 1.46–11.2 P<0.05).
Associations of polymorphisms in STAT4 and SPP1 with childhood-onset SLE were confirmed in a Japanese population. Although these are preliminary results for a limited number of cases, TNFAIP3 rs2230926G may be an important predictor of disease onset in males. We also replicated findings that the cumulative number of risk alleles was significantly increased in childhood-onset SLE.
PMCID: PMC3758304  PMID: 24023622
4.  Asymptomatic Pulmonary Hypertension in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a serious and often fatal complication of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Because the diagnosis of PAH often is made years after symptom onset, early diagnostic strategies are essential. Doppler echocardiography currently is considered the noninvasive screening test of choice for evaluating pulmonary hypertension.
Screening for asymptomatic pulmonary hypertension in systemic lupus erythematosus patients using Doppler echocardiography, and correlating it with inflammatory parameters of the disease.
Patients and methods:
Doppler echocardiography was performed in 74 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus over one year (66 adult and 8 juvenile), adult SLE included 57 patients with adult-onset and 9 patients with childhood-onset. Pulmonary hypertension was diagnosed if the peak systolic pressure gradient at the tricuspid valve was more than 30 mmHg. All patients were subjected to full history taking, rheumatological examination, laboratory studies and chest x-ray.
In seventy four SLE patients, the pulmonary hypertension was detected in 8 patients (10.8%), 7 adult-onset SLE patients (aged from 19 to 30 years) and 1 juvenile SLE (aged 12 years). The range of pulmonary artery systolic pressure was 34–61.2 mmHg (43.19 ± 9.28). No significant differences between patients with and those without pulmonary hypertension as regard clinical features. Significantly higher frequencies of rheumatoid factor and anti-cardiolipin antibodies were found in patients with pulmonary hypertension versus those without (P = 0.02, P = 0.008 respectively). Positive rheumatoid factor and ACL were significantly associated with occurrence of PAH in SLE (P = 0.007, P = 0.006 respectively). No significant correlations were found between pulmonary artery pressure, disease duration, SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI), ESR, and anti-ds DNA.
Patients with SLE have an increased risk of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Echocardiography should be used as a screening tool in patients at high risk for development of pulmonary hypertension. Positive anti-cardiolipin antibodies and rheumatoid factor were significant predictors of pulmonary hypertension in our study.
PMCID: PMC3201107  PMID: 22084605
systemic lupus erythematosus; pulmonary hypertension; echocardiography; screening
5.  Risk Alleles for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in a Large Case-Control Collection and Associations with Clinical Subphenotypes 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(2):e1001311.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a genetically complex disease with heterogeneous clinical manifestations. Recent studies have greatly expanded the number of established SLE risk alleles, but the distribution of multiple risk alleles in cases versus controls and their relationship to subphenotypes have not been studied. We studied 22 SLE susceptibility polymorphisms with previous genome-wide evidence of association (p<5×10−8) in 1919 SLE cases from 9 independent Caucasian SLE case series and 4813 independent controls. The mean number of risk alleles in cases was 15.1 (SD 3.1) while the mean in controls was 13.1 (SD 2.8), with trend p = 4×10−128. We defined a genetic risk score (GRS) for SLE as the number of risk alleles with each weighted by the SLE risk odds ratio (OR). The OR for high-low GRS tertiles, adjusted for intra-European ancestry, sex, and parent study, was 4.4 (95% CI 3.8–5.1). We studied associations of individual SNPs and the GRS with clinical manifestations for the cases: age at diagnosis, the 11 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria, and double-stranded DNA antibody (anti-dsDNA) production. Six subphenotypes were significantly associated with the GRS, most notably anti-dsDNA (ORhigh-low = 2.36, p = 9e−9), the immunologic criterion (ORhigh-low = 2.23, p = 3e−7), and age at diagnosis (ORhigh-low = 1.45, p = 0.0060). Finally, we developed a subphenotype-specific GRS (sub-GRS) for each phenotype with more power to detect cumulative genetic associations. The sub-GRS was more strongly associated than any single SNP effect for 5 subphenotypes (the above plus hematologic disorder and oral ulcers), while single loci are more significantly associated with renal disease (HLA-DRB1, OR = 1.37, 95% CI 1.14–1.64) and arthritis (ITGAM, OR = 0.72, 95% CI 0.59–0.88). We did not observe significant associations for other subphenotypes, for individual loci or the sub-GRS. Thus our analysis categorizes SLE subphenotypes into three groups: those having cumulative, single, and no known genetic association with respect to the currently established SLE risk loci.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic disabling autoimmune disease, most commonly striking women in their thirties or forties. It can cause a wide variety of clinical manifestations, including kidney disease, arthritis, and skin disorders. Prognosis varies greatly depending on these clinical features, with kidney disease and related characteristics leading to greater morbidity and mortality. It is also complex genetically; while lupus runs in families, genes increase one's risk for lupus but do not fully determine the outcome. The interactions of multiple genes and/or interactions between genes and environmental factors may cause lupus, but the causes and disease pathways of this very heterogeneous disease are not well understood. By examining relationships between the presence of multiple lupus risk genes, lupus susceptibility, and clinical manifestations, we hope to better understand how lupus is triggered and by what biological pathways it progresses. We show in this work that certain clinical manifestations of lupus are highly associated with cumulative genetic variations, i.e. multiple risk alleles, while others are associated with a single variation or none at all.
PMCID: PMC3040652  PMID: 21379322
6.  Autoantibodies predate the onset of systemic lupus erythematosus in northern Sweden 
Autoantibodies have a central role in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The presence of autoantibodies preceding disease onset by years has been reported both in patients with SLE and in those with rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting a gradual development of these diseases. Therefore, we sought to identify autoantibodies in a northern European population predating the onset of symptoms of SLE and their relationship to presenting symptoms.
The register of patients fulfilling the American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE and with a given date of the onset of symptoms was coanalysed with the register of the Medical Biobank, Umeå, Sweden. Thirty-eight patients were identified as having donated blood samples prior to symptom onset. A nested case-control study (1:4) was performed with 152 age- and sex-matched controls identified from within the Medical Biobank register (Umeå, Sweden). Antibodies against anti-Sjögren's syndrome antigen A (Ro/SSA; 52 and 60 kDa), anti-Sjögren's syndrome antigen B, anti-Smith antibody, ribonucleoprotein, scleroderma, anti-histidyl-tRNA synthetase antibody, double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), centromere protein B and histones were analysed using the AtheNA Multi-Lyte ANA II Plus Test System on a Bio-Plex Array Reader (Luminex200). Antinuclear antibodies test II (ANA II) results were analysed using indirect immunofluorescence on human epidermal 2 cells at a sample dilution of 1:100.
Autoantibodies against nuclear antigens were detected a mean (±SD) of 5.6 ± 4.7 years before the onset of symptoms and 8.7 ± 5.6 years before diagnosis in 63% of the individuals who subsequently developed SLE. The sensitivity (45.7%) was highest for ANA II, with a specificity of 95%, followed by anti-dsDNA and anti-Ro/SSA antibodies, both with sensitivities of 20.0% at specificities of 98.7% and 97.4%, respectively. The odds ratios (ORs) for predicting disease were 18.13 for anti-dsDNA (95% confidence interval (95% CI), 3.58 to 91.84) and 11.5 (95% CI, 4.54 to 28.87) for ANA. Anti-Ro/SSA antibodies appeared first at a mean of 6.6 ± 2.5 years prior to symptom onset. The mean number of autoantibodies in prediseased individuals was 1.4, and after disease onset it was 3.1 (P < 0.0005). The time predating disease was shorter and the number of autoantibodies was greater in those individuals with serositis as a presenting symptom in comparison to those with arthritis and skin manifestations as the presenting symptoms.
Autoantibodies against nuclear antigens were detected in individuals who developed SLE several years before the onset of symptoms and diagnosis. The most sensitive autoantibodies were ANA, Ro/SSA and dsDNA, with the highest predictive OR being for anti-dsDNA antibodies. The first autoantibodies detected were anti-Ro/SSA.
PMCID: PMC3241374  PMID: 21342502
7.  Educational and vocational outcomes of adults with childhood- and adult-onset systemic lupus erythematosus: 9 years of follow-up 
Arthritis care & research  2014;66(5):717-724.
To compare educational and vocational outcomes among adults with childhood-onset SLE (cSLE) and adult-onset SLE (aSLE).
Data derive from the 2002–2010 cycles of the Lupus Outcomes Study, a longitudinal cohort of 1204 adult subjects with SLE. Subjects age 18–60 living in the U.S. (N=929) were included in the analysis, and were classified as cSLE if age at diagnosis was <18 years (N=115). Logistic regression was used to assess the unadjusted and adjusted effect of cSLE, gender, race/ethnicity, baseline age, urban or rural location and U.S. region on the likelihood of completing a bachelor’s degree. Generalized estimating equations were used to assess the effect of cSLE, demographics, education, and disease-related factors on the odds of employment, accounting for multiple observations over the study period.
Subjects with cSLE were on average younger (29±10 versus 44±9 years), with longer disease duration (15±10 versus 11±8 years). Subjects with aSLE and cSLE subjects were equally likely to complete a bachelor’s degree. However, subjects with cSLE were significantly less likely to be employed, independent of demographic and disease characteristics (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.42–0.91).
While subjects with SLE are just as likely as those with aSLE to complete college education, cSLE significantly increases the risk of not working in adulthood, even when controlling for disease and demographic factors. Exploring reasons for low rates of employment and providing vocational support may be important to maximize long-term functional outcomes in patients with cSLE.
PMCID: PMC4049266  PMID: 24877200
8.  Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in childhood: analysis of clinical and immunological findings in 34 patients and comparison with SLE characteristics in adults 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1998;57(8):456-459.
OBJECTIVE—To define the pattern of disease expression in patients with childhood onset systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
METHODS—Prospective analysis of clinical manifestations and immunological features of 34 patients in whom the first manifestations appeared in childhood from a series of 430 unselected patients with SLE.
RESULTS—Thirty one (91%) patients from the childhood onset group were female and three male (9%) (ratio female/male, 10/1, with no difference compared with the adult onset group). Mean age of this group at disease onset was 11 years (range 5-14) compared with 32 years (15-48) for the remaining patients. The childhood onset patients more often had nephropathy (20% v 9% in adult onset SLE, p=0.04; OR:2.7; 95%CI:1.1, 7), fever (41% v 21%, p=0.006; OR:2.6, 95%CI:1.2, 5.7), and lymphadenopathy (6% v 0.5%, p=0.03, OR: 12.3, 95%CI: 1.2, 127.6), as presenting clinical manifestations. During the evolution of the disease, the childhood onset patients had an increased prevalence of malar rash (79% v 51%, p=0.002; OR:3.7; 95%CI:1.5, 9.5) and chorea (9% v 0%, p<0.0001). This group exhibited a higher prevalence of anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL) of the IgG isotype when compared with the remaining patients (29% v 13%, p=0.017; OR:2.9, 95%CI:1.2, 6.8). No significant differences were found among the other antibodies between the two groups. Childhood onset patients more often received azathioprine (15% v 6%, p=0.00004; OR:11.2; 95%CI:2.8, 44.9) but no differences were detected between the groups concerning side effects or drug toxicity.
CONCLUSIONS—The presentation and the clinical course of SLE varied in this series of 430 patients depending on their age at disease onset. Nephropathy, fever, and lymphadenopathy were more common in childhood onset patients as presenting clinical manifestations, while malar rash, chorea, and detection of IgG aCL were more common during the evolution of the disease.

 Keywords: systemic lupus erythematosus; childhood; age
PMCID: PMC1752720  PMID: 9797549
9.  The predictive value of fluctuations in IgM and IgG class anti-dsDNA antibodies for relapses in systemic lupus erythematosus. A prospective long term observation 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1997;56(11):661-666.
OBJECTIVE—This study investigated the predictive value of rises in IgM class antibodies against double stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) for ensuing relapses in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in comparison with rises in IgG class antibodies. In addition, it was analysed whether rises in IgM class anti-dsDNA were associated with specific clinical manifestations of SLE.
METHODS—Thirty four of a cohort of 72 SLE patients who were positive for IgM class anti-dsDNA at the start of the study or at the time of a relapse were analysed monthly for class specific anti-dsDNA levels during a median observation period of 19.6 months. Disease activity was scored according to the SLE Disease Activity Index. Anti-dsDNA were measured by IgM and IgG class enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and by Farr assay.
RESULTS—During the study 18 of 34 patients experienced 26 relapses. Twenty two (85%) of the relapses were accompanied by a positive test for IgM class anti-dsDNA by ELISA, 23 (89%) were positive for IgG class anti-dsDNA by ELISA, and 25 (96%) were positive by Farr assay. Patients with rises in IgG class anti-dsDNA by ELISA or in anti-dsDNA by Farr assay had a significantly higher cumulative risk for relapses than patients without those increases (p=0.04 and p=0.03, respectively). This was not the case for rises in IgM class anti-dsDNA (p=0.16). Moreover, a rise in IgM class anti-dsDNA before a relapse was not associated, expressed in terms of odds ratios, with specific clinical manifestations of SLE.
CONCLUSION—Relapses of SLE are frequently accompanied by IgM class anti-dsDNA. Rises of IgM class anti-dsDNA, in contrast with rises in IgG class anti-dsDNA, are not a sensitive tool for predicting a relapse and are not associated with specific clinical manifestations of SLE.

PMCID: PMC1752296  PMID: 9462168
10.  Adolescent onset of lupus results in more aggressive disease and worse outcomes: results of a nested matched case—control study within LUMINA, a multiethnic US cohort (LUMINA LVII) 
Lupus  2008;17(4):314.
The objective of this study is to examine the clinical features and outcomes of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) whose disease began in adolescence [juvenile-onset SLE (jSLE)] compared with adult-onset patients [adult-onset SLE (aSLE)] from a large multiethnic cohort. Systemic lupus erythematosus patients of African-American, Caucasian, or Hispanic ethnicity and ≥1 year follow-up were studied in two groups: jSLE (diagnosed at ≤18 years); aSLE (diagnosed at 19–50 years; matched for gender and disease duration at enrolment). Sociodemographic data, SLE manifestations, disease activity, damage accrual, SLE-related hospitalizations or emergency room visits, drug utilization, mortality and psychosocial characteristics and quality of life were compared. Data were analysed by univariable and multivariable analyses. Seventy-nine patients were studied (31 jSLE, 48 aSLE); 90% were women. Mean (SD) total disease duration was 6.8 (2.7) years in jSLE and 5.6 (3.3) years in aSLE (p = 0.077). Mean age at cohort entry was 18.4 (1.8) and 33.9 (9.2) years in jSLE and aSLE respectively. By univariable analysis, jSLE patients were more commonly of African-American descent, were more likely to have renal and neurological involvements, and to accrue renal damage; jSLE patients had lower levels of helplessness and scored higher in the physical component measure of the SF-36 than aSLE patients. Renal involvement [OR = 1.549, 95% CI (1.397–15.856)] and neurological involvement [OR = 1.642, 95% CI (1.689–15.786)] were independently associated with jSLE by multivariable analysis. There was a larger proportion of African-Americans within the jSLE group. After adjusting for ethnicity and follow-up time, jSLE patients experienced more renal and neurological manifestations, with more renal damage. There was a two-fold higher mortality rate in the jSLE group.
PMCID: PMC2818044  PMID: 18413413
juvenile-onset SLE; outcome
11.  The effects of previous Hysterectomy on Lupus 
Lupus  2009;18(11):1000-1005.
Hysterectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in United States, and currently, one in three women in United States has had a hysterectomy by the age of 60 years. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a common autoimmune disease and especially targets women of childbearing age at least 10 times higher than men, which reflects the major role of female sex hormones. In this retrospective study, we evaluate the potential effects of previous hysterectomy in our lupus cohort.Data collected fromstudy subject questionnaires were obtained fromthe Lupus Family Registry and Repository (LFRR) at the OklahomaMedical Research Foundation. Hysterectomy data were available from 3389 subjects. SLE patients with a positive history of hysterectomy have been selected and compared with matched lupus patients with a negative history of hysterectomy and healthy controls. Association analyses were performed, and the P values and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were calculated. SLE patients with a negative history of hysterectomy more likely had kidney nephritis or positive anti-dsDNA than age-matched SLE patients with a history of hysterectomy before disease onset. This effect was independent of ethnicity with an OR of 6.66 (95% CI = 3.09–14.38, P = 1.00 × 10−8) in European patients and 2.74 (95% CI = 1.43–5.25, P = 0.001) in African-Americans. SLE patients with a positive history of hysterectomy before disease onset also had a later age of disease onset (P = 0.0001) after adjustment for age and race. Our findings support the notion that the influence of female sex hormones in SLE and various clinical findings are tremendous and that surgical menopause such as this could significantly affect the outcome of disease and clinical manifestations
PMCID: PMC2769169  PMID: 19762402
12.  Multiple Autoantibodies Display Association with Lymphopenia, Proteinuria, and Cellular Casts in a Large, Ethnically Diverse SLE Patient Cohort 
Autoimmune Diseases  2012;2012:819634.
Purpose. This study evaluates high-throughput autoantibody screening and determines associated systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) clinical features in a large lupus cohort. Methods. Clinical and demographic information, along with serum samples, were obtained from each SLE study participant after appropriate informed consent. Serum samples were screened for 10 distinct SLE autoantibody specificities and examined for association with SLE ACR criteria and subcriteria using conditional logistic regression analysis. Results. In European-American SLE patients, autoantibodies against 52 kD Ro and RNP 68 are independently enriched in patients with lymphopenia, anti-La, and anti-ribosomal P are increased in patients with malar rash, and anti-dsDNA and anti-Sm are enriched in patients with proteinuria. In African-American SLE patients, cellular casts associate with autoantibodies against dsDNA, Sm, and Sm/nRNP. Conclusion. Using a high-throughput, bead-based method of autoantibody detection, anti-dsDNA is significantly enriched in patienets with SLE ACR renal criteria as has been previously described. However, lymphopenia is associated with several distinct autoantibody specificities. These findings offer meaningful information to allow clinicians and clinical investigators to understand which autoantibodies correlate with select SLE clinical manifestations across common racial groups using this novel methodology which is expanding in clinical use.
PMCID: PMC3439936  PMID: 22988489
13.  Anti-dsDNA, anti-Sm antibodies, and the lupus anticoagulant: significant factors associated with lupus nephritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2003;62(6):556-560.
Background: Lupus nephritis (LN) is a common manifestation in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Autoantibodies and ethnicity have been associated with LN, but the results are controversial.
Objective: To study the immunological and demographic factors associated with the development of LN.
Patients and methods: A retrospective case-control study of 127 patients with biopsy-proven LN, and 206 randomly selected patients with SLE without nephritis as controls was designed. All patients had attended our lupus unit during the past 12 years. Standard methods were used for laboratory testing.
Results: Patients with LN were significantly younger than the controls at the time of SLE diagnosis (mean (SD) 25.6 (8.8) years v 33.7 (12.5) years; p<0.0001). The proportion of patients of black ethnic origin was significantly higher in the group with nephritis (p=0.02). There were no differences in sex distribution or duration of follow up. A higher proportion of anti-dsDNA, anti-RNP, anti-Sm, and lupus anticoagulant (LA) was seen in the group with nephritis (p=0.002; p=0.005; p=0.0001; p=0.01, respectively). In univariate, but not in multivariate, analysis male sex and absence of anti-dsDNA were associated with earlier onset of renal disease (p=0.03; p=0.008). In multivariate analysis the only factors associated with nephritis were younger age at diagnosis of SLE, black race, presence of anti-dsDNA, anti-Sm, and LA. No demographic or immunological associations were seen with WHO histological classes.
Conclusions: Young, black patients with anti-dsDNA, anti-Sm antibodies, and positive LA, appear to have a higher risk of renal involvement. These patients should be carefully monitored for the development of LN.
PMCID: PMC1754557  PMID: 12759294
14.  Alpha-actinin-binding antibodies in relation to systemic lupus erythematosus and lupus nephritis 
This study investigated the overall clinical impact of anti-α-actinin antibodies in patients with pre-selected autoimmune diseases and in a random group of anti-nuclear antibody (ANA)-positive individuals. The relation of anti-α-actinin antibodies with lupus nephritis and anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies represented a particular focus for the study. Using a cross-sectional design, the presence of antibodies to α-actinin was studied in selected groups, classified according to the relevant American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (n = 99), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (n = 68), Wegener's granulomatosis (WG) (n = 85), and fibromyalgia (FM) (n = 29), and in a random group of ANA-positive individuals (n = 142). Renal disease was defined as (increased) proteinuria with haematuria or presence of cellular casts. Sera from SLE, RA, and Sjøgren's syndrome (SS) patients had significantly higher levels of anti-α-actinin antibodies than the other patient groups. Using the geometric mean (± 2 standard deviations) in FM patients as the upper cutoff, 20% of SLE patients, 12% of RA patients, 4% of SS patients, and none of the WG patients were positive for anti-α-actinin antibodies. Within the SLE cohort, anti-α-actinin antibody levels were higher in patients with renal flares (p = 0.02) and correlated independently with anti-dsDNA antibody levels by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (p < 0.007) but not with other disease features. In the random ANA group, 14 individuals had anti-α-actinin antibodies. Of these, 36% had SLE, while 64% suffered from other, mostly autoimmune, disorders. Antibodies binding to α-actinin were detected in 20% of SLE patients but were not specific for SLE. They correlate with anti-dsDNA antibody levels, implying in vitro cross-reactivity of anti-dsDNA antibodies, which may explain the observed association with renal disease in SLE.
PMCID: PMC1794505  PMID: 17062137
15.  Mutations in Complement Regulatory Proteins Predispose to Preeclampsia: A Genetic Analysis of the PROMISSE Cohort 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1001013.
Jane Salmon and colleagues studied 250 pregnant patients with SLE and/or antiphospholipid antibodies and found an association of risk variants in complement regulatory proteins in patients who developed preeclampsia, as well as in preeclampsia patients lacking autoimmune disease.
Pregnancy in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or antiphospholipid antibodies (APL Ab)—autoimmune conditions characterized by complement-mediated injury—is associated with increased risk of preeclampsia and miscarriage. Our previous studies in mice indicate that complement activation targeted to the placenta drives angiogenic imbalance and placental insufficiency.
Methods and Findings
We use PROMISSE, a prospective study of 250 pregnant patients with SLE and/or APL Ab, to test the hypothesis in humans that impaired capacity to limit complement activation predisposes to preeclampsia. We sequenced genes encoding three complement regulatory proteins—membrane cofactor protein (MCP), complement factor I (CFI), and complement factor H (CFH)—in 40 patients who had preeclampsia and found heterozygous mutations in seven (18%). Five of these patients had risk variants in MCP or CFI that were previously identified in atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease characterized by endothelial damage. One had a novel mutation in MCP that impairs regulation of C4b. These findings constitute, to our knowledge, the first genetic defects associated with preeclampsia in SLE and/or APL Ab. We confirmed the association of hypomorphic variants of MCP and CFI in a cohort of non-autoimmune preeclampsia patients in which five of 59 were heterozygous for mutations.
The presence of risk variants in complement regulatory proteins in patients with SLE and/or APL Ab who develop preeclampsia, as well as in preeclampsia patients lacking autoimmune disease, links complement activation to disease pathogenesis and suggests new targets for treatment of this important public health problem.
Study Registration NCT00198068
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Most pregnancies culminate in the birth of a healthy baby but, sadly, about a quarter of women lose their babies during pregnancy. A common pregnancy-related medical problem that threatens the life of both baby and mother is preeclampsia. Mild and severe preeclampsia affects up to 10% and 1%–2% of pregnancies, respectively. Preeclampsia occurs because of a problem with the function of the placenta, the organ that transfers nutrients and oxygen from mother to baby and removes waste products from the baby. Although preeclampsia begins early in pregnancy, it is diagnosed by the onset of high blood pressure (hypertension) and the appearance of protein in the urine (proteinuria) after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Other warning signs include headaches and swelling of the hands and face. The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery, and labor is usually induced early to prevent eclampsia (seizures), stroke, liver and kidney failure, and breathing and blood vessel problems developing in the mother. Although delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy is not generally recommended, in cases of preeclampsia it may be too dangerous for both the baby and the mother to allow the pregnancy to continue. Unfortunately when severe preeclampsia occurs in the second trimester, babies weighing only 500 grams may be delivered and they may not survive.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because the exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown, it is difficult to develop treatments for the condition or to find ways to prevent it. Many experts think that immune system problems—in particular, perturbations in complement activation—may be involved in preeclampsia. The complement system is a set of blood proteins that attacks invading bacteria and viruses. The activation of complement proteins is usually tightly regulated (overactivation of the complement system causes tissue damage) and, because preeclampsia may run in families, one hypothesis is that mutations (genetic changes) in complement regulatory proteins might predispose women to preeclampsia. In this study, the researchers test this hypothesis by sequencing genes encoding complement regulatory proteins in pregnant women with the autoimmune diseases systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and/or antiphospholipid antibodies (APL Ab) who developed preeclampsia. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks healthy human cells instead of harmful invaders. Both SLE and APL Ab are characterized by complement-mediated tissue injury and are associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia and miscarriage.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Two hundred fifty women with SLE and/or APL Ab were enrolled into the PROMISSE study (a multi-center observational study to identify predictors of pregnancy outcome in women with SLE and/or APL Ab) when they were 12 weeks pregnant and followed through pregnancy. Thirty patients developed preeclampsia during the study and ten more had had preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy. The researchers sequenced the genes for complement regulatory proteins: membrane cofactor protein (MCP), factor I, and factor H in these 40 patients. Seven women (18%) had mutations in one copy of one of these genes (there are two copies of most genes in human cells). Five mutations were alterations in MCP or factor I that are gene variants that increase the risk of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease characterized by blood vessel damage. The sixth mutation was a new MCP mutation that impaired MCP's ability to regulate complement component C4b. The final mutation was a factor H mutation that did not have any obvious functional effect. No mutations in complement regulatory proteins were found in 34 matched participants in PROMISSE without preeclampsia but, among a group of non-autoimmune women who developed preeclampsia during pregnancy, 10% had mutations in MCP or factor I.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify MCP and factor I mutations as genetic defects associated with preeclampsia in pregnant women with SLE and/or APL Ab. Importantly, they also reveal an association between similar mutations and preeclampsia in women without any underlying autoimmune disease. Taken together with evidence from previous animal experiments, these findings suggest that dysregulation of complement activation is involved in the development of preeclampsia. Although further studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings, these results suggest that proteins involved in the regulation of complement activation could be new targets for the treatment of preeclampsia and raise the possibility that tests could be developed to identify women at risk of developing preeclampsia.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Tommy's, a UK charity that funds scientific research into the causes and prevention of miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth, has information on preeclampsia
The March of Dimes Foundation, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, has information on preeclampsia
The UK National Health Services Choices website also has information about preeclampsia
Wikipedia has pages on the complement system, on autoimmune disease, and on preeclampsia (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
More information on the PROMISSE study is available
PMCID: PMC3062534  PMID: 21445332
16.  Differences in Long-Term Disease Activity and Treatment of Adult Patients With Childhood-and Adult-Onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;61(1):13-20.
To compare differences in long-term outcome between adults with childhood-onset (age at diagnosis <18 years) systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and with adult-onset SLE.
Data were derived from the University of California Lupus Outcomes Study, a longitudinal cohort of 885 adult subjects with SLE (90 childhood-onset [cSLE], 795 adult-onset [aSLE]). Baseline and 1-year followup data were obtained via structured 1-hour telephone interviews conducted between 2002 and 2006. Using self-report data, differences in organ involvement and disease morbidity, current disease status and activity, past and current medication use, and number of physician visits were compared, based on age at diagnosis of SLE.
Average disease duration for the cSLE and aSLE subgroups was 16.5 and 13.4 years, respectively, and mean age at followup was 30.5 and 49.9 years, respectively. When compared with aSLE subjects, cSLE subjects had a higher frequency of SLE-related renal disease, whereas aSLE subjects were more likely to report a history of pulmonary disease. Rates of clotting disorders, seizures, and myocardial infarction were similar between the 2 groups. At followup, cSLE subjects had lower overall disease activity, but were more likely to be taking steroids and other immunosuppressive therapies. The total number of yearly physician visits was similar between the 2 groups, although cSLE subjects had a higher number of nephrology visits.
This study demonstrates important differences in the outcomes of patients with cSLE and aSLE, and provides important prognostic information about long-term SLE disease activity and treatment.
PMCID: PMC2875186  PMID: 19116979
17.  Time to Renal Disease and End-Stage Renal Disease in PROFILE: A Multiethnic Lupus Cohort 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e396.
Renal involvement is a serious manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); it may portend a poor prognosis as it may lead to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The purpose of this study was to determine the factors predicting the development of renal involvement and its progression to ESRD in a multi-ethnic SLE cohort (PROFILE).
Methods and Findings
PROFILE includes SLE patients from five different United States institutions. We examined at baseline the socioeconomic–demographic, clinical, and genetic variables associated with the development of renal involvement and its progression to ESRD by univariable and multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression analyses. Analyses of onset of renal involvement included only patients with renal involvement after SLE diagnosis (n = 229). Analyses of ESRD included all patients, regardless of whether renal involvement occurred before, at, or after SLE diagnosis (34 of 438 patients). In addition, we performed a multivariable logistic regression analysis of the variables associated with the development of renal involvement at any time during the course of SLE.
In the time-dependent multivariable analysis, patients developing renal involvement were more likely to have more American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE, and to be younger, hypertensive, and of African-American or Hispanic (from Texas) ethnicity. Alternative regression models were consistent with these results. In addition to greater accrued disease damage (renal damage excluded), younger age, and Hispanic ethnicity (from Texas), homozygosity for the valine allele of FcγRIIIa (FCGR3A*GG) was a significant predictor of ESRD. Results from the multivariable logistic regression model that included all cases of renal involvement were consistent with those from the Cox model.
Fcγ receptor genotype is a risk factor for progression of renal disease to ESRD. Since the frequency distribution of FCGR3A alleles does not vary significantly among the ethnic groups studied, the additional factors underlying the ethnic disparities in renal disease progression remain to be elucidated.
Fcγ receptor genotype is a risk factor for progression of renal disease to ESRD but does not explain the ethnic disparities in renal disease progression.
Editors' Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE, commonly known as “lupus”) is an illness of many manifestations that appear to result from the immune system attacking components of the body's own cells. One of the unfortunate effects of SLE is kidney damage, which can, in a minority of patients, progress to kidney failure (formally called “end-stage renal disease,” or ESRD). Compared to White Americans, other ethnic groups tend to develop renal complications of lupus more often and with worse outcomes.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is unclear why some people with lupus develop kidney problems. The purpose of this US-based study was to confirm the factors that increase the risk of kidney damage and kidney failure, particularly in racial and ethnic minority patients, and to determine which of these factors accelerate the pace of kidney disease. Knowing these risk factors could allow the development and targeting of interventions, such as screening tests and preventive treatments, to prevent long-term loss of kidney function in patients with lupus.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured a number of factors in a multi-ethnic group of 1,008 patients with lupus, almost half of whom had some degree of kidney involvement. They found that those who developed kidney damage after being diagnosed with lupus tended to be younger, to have had lupus for a longer time, and to have experienced more effects of lupus in general than those who did not have kidney involvement. Those who developed kidney problems were also more likely to have been unemployed, to have had fewer years of formal education, and to have had high blood pressure before developing kidney involvement. African-American and Texan Hispanic individuals with lupus were more likely to develop kidney involvement, and tended to develop it more rapidly, than White Americans or Puerto Rican Hispanic ethnicity. Actual kidney failure (ESRD requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation) was more likely to occur among Texan Hispanics with kidney involvement than in the other ethnic groups. Diabetes and high blood pressure were not found to predict ESRD, but people with a particular variant of a protein that helps antibodies bind to cells (know as Fc-gamma receptor IIIa, or FcγRIIIa) were found to be more likely to develop ESRD, and to develop it more quickly.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results suggest that the emergence and progression of kidney disease in patients with lupus depends on medical, genetic, and socioeconomic factors. Because no single test or intervention can be expected to address all of these factors, those treating patients with lupus must remain aware of the complexity of their patients lives at a variety of levels. In particular, ethnic disparities in the risk of serious kidney disease remain to be addressed.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
MedlinePlus page on lupus
Lupus Foundation of America
American College of Rheumatology pages on lupus
Wikipedia entry on lupus (note: Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
PMCID: PMC1626549  PMID: 17076550
18.  Amelioration of Lupus Nephritis by Serum Amyloid P Component Gene Therapy with Distinct Mechanisms Varied from Different Stage of the Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22659.
Our previous study revealed that administration of syngeneic female BALB/c mice with excessive self activated lymphocyte-derived DNA (ALD-DNA) could induce systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) disease, indicating that overload of self-DNA might exceed normal clearance ability and comprise the major source of autoantigens in lupus mice. Serum amyloid P component (SAP), an acute-phase serum protein with binding reactivity to DNA in mice, was proved to promote the clearance of free DNA and prevent mice against self-antigen induced autoimmune response. It is reasonable to hypothesize that SAP treatment might contribute to alleviation of SLE disease, whereas its role in ALD-DNA-induced lupus nephritis is not fully understood.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The ratios of SAP to DNA significantly decreased and were negatively correlated with the titers of anti-dsDNA antibodies in ALD-DNA-induced lupus mice, indicating SAP was relatively insufficient in lupus mice. Herein a pcDNA3-SAP plasmid (pSAP) was genetically constructed and intramuscularly injected into BALB/c mice. It was found that SAP protein purified from the serum of pSAP-treated mice bound efficiently to ALD-DNA and inhibited ALD-DNA-mediated innate immune response in vitro. Treatment of ALD-DNA-induced lupus mice with pSAP in the early stage of SLE disease with the onset of proteinuria reversed lupus nephritis via decreasing anti-dsDNA autoantibody production and immune complex (IC) deposition. Further administration of pSAP in the late stage of SLE disease that had established lupus nephritis alleviated proteinuria and ameliorated lupus nephritis. This therapeutic effect of SAP was not only attributable to the decreased levels of anti-dsDNA autoantibodies, but also associated with the decreased infiltration of lymphocytes and the reduced production of inflammatory markers.
These results suggest that SAP administration could effectively alleviated lupus nephritis via modulating anti-dsDNA antibody production and the inflammation followed IC deposition, and SAP-based intervening strategy may provide new approaches for treating SLE disease.
PMCID: PMC3143173  PMID: 21799927
19.  Clinical and Laboratory Manifestations of Yemeni Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterised by multi-systemic involvement. This is the first study undertaken to determine the relationships between serological marker positivity and age, gender, signs and symptoms, risk factors and the treatment of SLE in Yemen.
We investigated the cases of 149 patients with SLE admitted to Al-Thawra Hospital in Sana’a city between November 2009 and November 2010. Of the 149 patients, females represented 75.2% and males, 24.8%.
The most frequent presenting signs and symptoms were fatigue (84.6%), fever (81.9%), arthropathy (81.2%), anaemia (64.4%), photosensitivity (54.4%), renal involvement (53%), malar rash (52.3%), and alopecia (49%). Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) were detected in 95.3% of the patients and were associated significantly with most clinical presentations, except weight loss, hypertension and serositis. Anti-ds deoxyribonucleic acid (anti-dsDNA) was detected in 59.7% of the patients, and was associated significantly with fever and fatigue. Anti-Smith (anti-Sm) antibodies were detected in 27.5% of the patients, but were not significantly associated with all clinical presentations. Social stress was the most important risk factor for inducing SLE, with an odds ratio (OR) of 6.0, followed by common exposure to sunlight (OR = 2.2).
In this study, SLE was more prevalent among females and young adults. The clinical presentation was characterised by a high incidence of fatigue and fever, and a low incidence of oral ulcers and serositis. ANA was associated with most clinical presentations except weight loss, hypertension, and serositis. Anti-dsDNA antibodies were most frequently associated with fever, fatigue and hypertension. There was no significant association of the anti-Sm antibodies with any clinical presentations.
PMCID: PMC3916282  PMID: 24516759
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); Autoantibodies; Antinuclear antibodies (ANA); Anti-ds DNA; Anti-Smith Antibodies (Anti-Sm); Yemen
20.  Association of the oestrogen receptor α gene polymorphisms with disease onset in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Lee, Y | Shin, K | Kang, S | Lee, C | Yoo, B | Cha, H | Koh, E | Yoon, S | Lee, J
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2004;63(10):1244-1249.
Objective: To evaluate the genetic influence of PvuII and XbaI polymorphisms of oestrogen receptor α (ORα) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in Korea.
Methods: Genomic DNA from 268 female controls and 137 female SLE patients (41 childhood onset and 96 adult onset) were analysed using PvuII and XbaI restriction fragment length polymorphism. Comparison of the frequencies of alleles and genotypes was made in control and patient groups and in childhood onset and adult onset SLE subgroups.
Results: Although the Pp genotype occurred more often in SLE patients than in controls (pc = 0.017), ORα genotype distributions of adult onset SLE did not differ significantly from controls. The PP, Pp, and xx genotypes occurred less often in childhood onset SLE (pc = 0.0045, 0.0498, and 0.0255, respectively) than in controls. Additionally, the PP genotype was less common in childhood onset than in adult onset SLE (pc = 0.016). SLE patients with the PP genotypes were older at disease onset than those with the other genotypes (p = 0.001). Patients with the Xx genotype had an earlier onset of SLE than those with the xx genotype (p = 0.025). The frequency of the combined ppXx genotype was greater in childhood onset SLE than in controls (pc = 0.0009) or adult onset SLE (pc = 0.027). The same trend was supported by subgroup analyses according to age at menarche and logistic multivariate analyses.
Conclusions: ORα polymorphisms are significantly associated with the age at disease onset in Koreans with SLE.
PMCID: PMC1754755  PMID: 15361380
21.  Genetic Variation at the IRF7/PHRF1 Locus Is Associated With Autoantibody Profile and Serum Interferon-α Activity in Lupus Patients 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(2):553-561.
Interferon-α (IFNα) is a heritable risk factor for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Genetic variation near IRF7 is implicated in SLE susceptibility. SLE-associated autoantibodies can stimulate IFNα production through the Toll-like receptor/IRF7 pathway. This study was undertaken to determine whether variants of IRF7 act as risk factors for SLE by increasing IFNα production and whether autoantibodies are important to this phenomenon.
We studied 492 patients with SLE (236 African American, 162 European American, and 94 Hispanic American subjects). Serum levels of IFNα were measured using a reporter cell assay, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the IRF7/PHRF1 locus were genotyped.
In a joint analysis of European American and Hispanic American subjects, the rs702966 C allele was associated with the presence of anti–double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies (odds ratio [OR] 1.83, P = 0.0069). The rs702966 CC genotype was only associated with higher serum levels of IFNα in European American and Hispanic American patients with anti-dsDNA antibodies (joint analysis P = 4.1 × 10−5 in anti-dsDNA–positive patients and P = 0.99 in anti-dsDNA–negative patients). In African American subjects, anti-Sm antibodies were associated with the rs4963128 SNP near IRF7 (OR 1.95, P = 0.0017). The rs4963128 CT and TT genotypes were associated with higher serum levels of IFNα only in African American patients with anti-Sm antibodies (P = 0.0012). In African American patients lacking anti-Sm antibodies, an effect of anti-dsDNA–rs702966 C allele interaction on serum levels of IFNα was observed, similar to the other patient groups (overall joint analysis P = 1.0 × 10−6). In European American and Hispanic American patients, the IRF5 SLE risk haplotype showed an additive effect with the rs702966 C allele on IFNα level in anti-dsDNA–positive patients.
Our findings indicate that IRF7/PHRF1 variants in combination with SLE-associated autoantibodies result in higher serum levels of IFNα, providing a biologic relevance for this locus at the protein level in human SLE in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2832192  PMID: 20112359
22.  Fcγ receptor IIa, IIIa, and IIIb polymorphisms in German patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: association with clinical symptoms 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2002;61(9):786-792.
Background: Receptors for IgG play an important part in immune complex clearance. Several studies have identified polymorphisms of receptors for the Fc fragment of IgG (FcγR) as genetic factors influencing susceptibility to disease or disease course of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Objective: To examine these possibilities by evaluating a panel of clinical parameters in a cohort of 140 German patients with SLE for correlations with the FcγRIIa, IIIa, and IIIb polymorphisms in an explorative study.
Methods: 140 German patients with SLE according to American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria and 187 German controls were genotyped for the FcγRIIa, IIIa, and IIIb polymorphisms. Associations between FcγR genotypes, combined genotypes and clinical as well as laboratory features were analysed.
Results: No significant skewing of any of the three FcγR polymorphisms was seen in the German SLE cohort studied. Various clinical and serological parameters were found more frequently and at younger age in homozygous patients with the genotypes IIA-R/R131 or IIIA-F/F158 than in patients with IIA-H/H131 or IIIA-V/V158. These effects were even more pronounced in patients with the low binding combined phenotypes of the FcγRIIa, IIIa (double negative phenotypes) and FcγRIIa, IIIa, and IIIb (triple negative phenotypes). In patients with the double negative IIA and IIIA genotypes significantly higher frequencies of nephritis (63% v 33%) and proteinuria according to ACR criteria (58% v 11%), anaemia (84% v 55%), and anticardiolipin antibodies (63% v 22%) were found than in patients with the double positive genotypes. Patients with the IIA-R/R131 genotype and the double negative homozygous genotype had an earlier incidence of clinical symptoms, haematological and immunological abnormalities. Accordingly, SLE is diagnosed earlier in these patients, the difference reaching statistical significance only in the double negative v the double positive genotype (26.3 v 39.5 years) and the IIIA-F/F158 genotype v the rest (26.7 v 32.0 years). Most relevant is the fact that a higher median disease activity (ECLAM score) was demonstrated, both in the IIA-R/R131 homozygous (3.3 v 2.7) and the double negative (3.4 v 2.3) patients, reaching statistical significance in the first group.
Conclusion: The results of this explorative study support the view that the FcγRIIa/IIIa and IIIb polymorphisms constitute factors influencing clinical manifestations and the disease course of SLE but do not represent genetic risk factors for the occurrence of SLE. Higher frequencies of clinical symptoms, haematological and immunological abnormalities as well as an earlier onset of clinical symptoms, haematological and immunological markers of active disease were found in patients with the IIA-R/R131 genotype and the double negative and triple negative genotypes.
PMCID: PMC1754233  PMID: 12176802
23.  Clinical features and race-specific incidence/prevalence rates of systemic lupus erythematosus in a geographically complete cohort of patients. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1994;53(10):675-680.
OBJECTIVES--To assess race-specific incidence and prevalence rates for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) using 1991 National Census data and to ascertain the frequency of clinical/laboratory features of a geographically complete cohort of patients with SLE. METHODS--Multiple methods of retrieval were used to ascertain SLE patients including screening request cards for immunology investigations. Patients were classified according to the revised ARA criteria. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to study the effects of age at diagnosis on the frequency of clinical/laboratory SLE features. RESULTS--The overall one year period prevalence rate for SLE was 24.7 (age adjusted, 95% CI: 20.7-28.8)/100,000. Highest rates were seen in Afro-Caribbeans (207 (111-302)/100,000), followed by Asians (48.8 (10.5-87.1)/100,000), and then Whites (20.3 (16.6-24.0)/100,000). The mean age at diagnosis of SLE was 40.9 years (range: 11-83) with a mean interval between first definite SLE symptom and diagnosis of 61 months (0-518). In 85% of patients the first definite lupus feature was musculoskeletal and/or cutaneous. In this SLE cohort renal disease (22%) was observed less commonly than in previous studies and the 'classic' butterfly rash was present in only 30% of patients. Malar rash, thrombocytopaenia, positive anti-dsDNA antibodies, hypocomplementaemia (C4), and positive IgG anticardiolipin antibodies were all seen less commonly with increasing age at diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS--A closer estimate of the true frequency of clinical/laboratory SLE manifestations is likely from this geographically complete cohort of patients compared with studies that may be skewed by referral patterns.
PMCID: PMC1005435  PMID: 7979581
24.  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
25.  Cross-sectional analysis of adverse outcomes in 1,029 pregnancies of Afro-Caribbean women in Trinidad with and without systemic lupus erythematosus 
The objective of the study was to examine pregnancy outcomes in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and population controls in Trinidad. We performed a cross-sectional analysis of adverse outcomes in pregnancies of Afro-Caribbean women with SLE and without SLE. One hundred and twenty-two female adult cases of SLE and 203 neighbourhood age-matched women without SLE were interviewed concerning details of their reproductive history, and the anticardiolipin antibody (ACL) status was established for women with SLE. A total of 1,029 pregnancies were reported (356 by women with SLE, 673 by women without SLE). In women with ≥ 1 pregnancy the total number of pregnancies was similar in women with a diagnosis of SLE and women without; however, a lower proportion of women with SLE had ever been pregnant compared with women without SLE (80% versus 91%, P = 0.002). In multivariate logistic regression analyses adjusted for maternal age, district of residence, pregnancy order and smoking, SLE pregnancies were more than twice as likely to end in foetal death than non-SLE pregnancies (odds ratio (OR), 2.4; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.2–4.7). This effect was driven by a large increase in the odds of stillbirth (OR, 8.5; 95% CI, 2.5–28.8). The odds of early miscarriage (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 0.6–3.1) and of mid-trimester miscarriage (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 0.4–9.5) were higher, but were not statistically significantly different, in SLE pregnancies than in non-SLE pregnancies. The odds of ectopic pregnancy (OR, 7.5; 95% CI, 0.9–62.5) and of preterm birth (OR, 3.4; 95% CI, 1.2–10.0) were higher in SLE pregnancies conceived after diagnosis than in non-SLE pregnancies. There was no evidence of raised levels of IgG or IgM ACL among the majority (93/97 women, 96%) of SLE cases who reported sporadic mid-trimester miscarriage or stillbirth, although there was evidence of high levels of IgM and IgG ACL among women reporting three or more miscarriages and three consecutive miscarriages, and of raised IgG ACL among those experiencing ectopic pregnancy. In conclusion, we found evidence for a large increase in risk of stillbirth in the pregnancies of Afro-Caribbean Trinidadian women with SLE (not accounted for by high ACL status). There was some evidence of an increased risk of preterm delivery and ectopic pregnancy in pregnancies conceived after a diagnosis of maternal SLE.
PMCID: PMC2246243  PMID: 18042277

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