Patients with rheumatic disorders have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This excess co-morbidity is not fully explained by traditional risk factors. Disease severity is a major risk factor for CVD in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Shared disease mechanisms in atherosclerosis and rheumatic disorders include immune dysregulation and inflammatory pathways, which are potential targets for therapy. Lessons from RA and SLE may have implications for future research on the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic vascular disease in general. Recent data indicate that suppression of inflammation reduces the risk of CVD morbidity and mortality in patients with severe RA. The modest, but clinically relevant, efficacy of atorvastatin treatment in RA adds to the evidence for important anti-inflammatory properties for statins. There is increased recognition of the need for structured preventive strategies to reduce the risk of CVD in patients with rheumatic disease. Such strategies should be based on insights into the role of inflammation in CVD, as well as optimal management of life style related risk factors. In this review, the research agenda for understanding and preventing CVD co-morbidity in patients with rheumatic disorders is discussed.
rheumatoid arthritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; cardiovascular disease; inflammation
Despite identifying that rheumatic fever (RF) is the result of an immunological reaction following group-A beta-hemolytic streptococcal infection, the pathogenesis remains elusive. RF has been incorrectly designated as causing pancarditis, since it does not cause myocarditis. Research directed toward myocarditis, targeting myosin to unravel the pathogenesis has not succeeded in more than 60 years. RF causes permanent damage to cardiac valves. The mitral valve (MV), derived from the wall of the left ventricle, is composed of a central core of connective tissue, covered on both sides by endothelium. The left ventricle does not have either myocardial or intermyocardial connective tissue involvement in RF. By exclusion, therefore, the primary site of RF damage appears to be the endothelium. Evaluation of the histopathology and immunopathology indicates that RF is a disease of the valvular and vascular endothelium. It is not a connective tissue disorder. Research to identify pathogenesis needs to be focused toward valvular endothelium.
Endothelium; pathogenesis; poststreptococcal; acute glomerulonephritis; myocarditis; myosin; rheumatic fever
Patients with rheumatic diseases have an increased risk of mortality by cardiovascular events. In fact, several rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and ankylosing spondylitis are associated with a higher prevalence of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Although traditional cardiovascular risk factors have been involved in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases in rheumatic patients, these alterations do not completely explain the enhanced cardiovascular risk in this population. Obesity and its pathologic alteration of fat mass and dysfunction, due to an altered pattern of secretion of proinflammatory adipokines, could be one of the links between cardiovascular and rheumatic diseases. Indeed, the incidence of CVDs is augmented in obese individuals with rheumatic disorders. Thus, in this paper we explore in detail the relationships among adipokines, rheumatic diseases, and cardiovascular complications by giving to the reader a holistic vision and several suggestions for future perspectives and potential clinical implications.
Pain patterns vary greatly in the different types of arthritis, from the localized agony without mental overtones in acute gout to the diffuse disorder we call rheumatoid arthritis, where inflammation of many joints, systemic illness, anaemia, anxiety, and depression are usually all present in some degree. Each pain pattern calls for a different therapeutic approach, physical, psychological, and pharmacological. Few patients suffer as much pain and suffering over many years as do chronic arthritics. It is all the more important to instruct them in the essentials of their own treatment. A patient with an occupied and instructed mind usually suffers less than an ignorant and depressed one, fearful of her disease and its complications and of the dark uncertain future that lies ahead.
The pattern of rheumatic disease in Africa differs from that in Europe and the United States and these differences may provide clues to its cause or pathogenesis. In a six month prospective analysis of 141 patients (83 female) attending a rheumatic diseases clinic rheumatoid arthritis was the commonest disorder, occurring in 49 patients. Twenty seven of the 49 (55%) were seropositive, 25 (51%) had erosive disease with rheumatoid nodules (13/49, 27%), and extra-articular complications (6/49, 12%), indicating a pattern of disease unlike the early reports from Africa. Systemic lupus erythematosus found in 18/141 (13%), gout in 12 (9%), ankylosing spondylitis in six (4%), and Reiter's syndrome in five (4%), in contrast with their rarity in previous reports from Africa, were not uncommon, whereas tropical polyarthritis was seldom diagnosed. The pattern of rheumatic disease in Harare, a large city, is changing to approximate more closely the pattern seen in developed countries.
Many rheumatologic disorders, most notably Sjögren's syndrome, are associated with dental complications and in some cases oral diseases may trigger or drive connective tissue disease. During the past three decades the treatment in rheumatology was revolutionized by the introduction of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. Advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis of rheumatic diseases have led to the discovery of critical mechanisms of inflammation and autoimmunity and the invention of new target-specific biologic agents. In this review, we will summarize the current state of biologic therapies in rheumatology and discuss the implications of these on oral health and disease.
autoimmunity; biologic therapies; monoclonal antibodies; rheumatic diseases; Sjögren's syndrome
Inflammatory joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other rheumatic conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and ankylosing spondylitis, comprise a heterogeneous group of joint disorders that are all associated with extra-articular side effects, including bone loss and fractures. The concept of osteoimmunology is based on growing insights into the links between the immune system and bone. The pathogenesis of osteoporosis in these patients is multifactorial. We have, more or less as an example, described this extensively for patients with SLE. High disease activity (inflammation) and immobility are common factors that substantially increase fracture risk in these patients, on top of the background fracture risk based on, among other factors, age, body mass index, and gender. Although no fracture reduction has been shown in intervention studies in patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases, we present treatment options that might be useful for clinicians who are treating these patients.
Osteoporosis; Fractures; Rheumatoid arthritis; Systemic lupus erythematosus; SLE; Ankylosing spondylitis; Metabolic bone disease; Inflammation; Bone; Medicine & Public Health; Rheumatology
Rheumatic diseases are a diverse group of disorders. Most of these diseases are heterogeneous in nature and show varying responsiveness to treatment. Because our understanding of the molecular complexity of rheumatic diseases is incomplete and criteria for categorization are limited, we mainly refer to them in terms of group averages. The advent of DNA microarray technology has provided a powerful tool to gain insight into the molecular complexity of these diseases; this technology facilitates open-ended survey to identify comprehensively the genes and biological pathways that are associated with clinically defined conditions. During the past decade, encouraging results have been generated in the molecular description of complex rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren syndrome and systemic sclerosis. Here, we describe developments in genomics research during the past decade that have contributed to our knowledge of pathogenesis, and to the identification of biomarkers for diagnosis, patient stratification and prognostication.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is both hepatotropic and lymphotropic, responsible for a great number of hepatic and extrahepatic immune-system disorders that comprise the so-called HCV syndrome. HCV-associated rheumatic diseases are characterized by frequent clinico-serological overlap; therefore, correct classification of individual patients is necessary before therapeutic decisions are made. This is particularly difficult to do, however, because of the coexistence of viral infection and complex autoimmune alterations. In this context, mixed cryoglobulinemia syndrome (MCs) represents the prototype of virus-related autoimmune-lymphoproliferative diseases. MCs can be treated at different levels by means of etiological treatment with antivirals (peg-interferon-alpha plus ribavirin) aimed at HCV eradication and/or pathogenetic/symptomatic treatments directed to both immune-system alterations and the vasculitic process (rituximab, cyclophosphamide, steroids, plasmapheresis, and so on). In clinical practice, the therapeutic strategy should be modulated according to severity/activity of the MCs and possibly tailored to each individual patient's conditions. Cryoglobulinemic skin ulcers may represent a therapeutic challenge, which should be managed by means of both local and systemic treatments. HCV-associated arthritis should be differentiated from the simple comorbidity of HCV infection and classical rheumatoid arthritis. It may be treated with low doses of steroids and/or hydroxychloroquine; the use of biologics (rituximab) may be considered in more severe cases. Primary Sjögren's syndrome is rarely associated with HCV infection, while sicca syndrome and myalgia are frequently detectable in hepatitis C patients, with or without cryoglobulinemic vasculitis. Other autoimmune rheumatic disorders (poly/dermatomyositis, polyarteritis nodosa, osteosclerosis, fibromyalgia, and so on) have been reported as potentially associated with HCV infection in patient populations from different countries, suggesting the role of genetic and/or environmental co-factors. The therapeutic approach to these disorders should be decided according to each individual patient's evaluation, including hepatic, virological, and immunological findings.
D8/17, an alloantigen found on B lymphocytes, has been reported to be elevated in patients susceptible to rheumatic fever and may be associated with autoimmune types of neuropsychiatric disorders. The pediatric-autoimmune-neuropsychiatric-disorders-associated-with-streptococci model is a putative model of pathogenesis for a group of children whose symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's disorder (TD) are abrupt and may be triggered by an infection with group A streptococci. As a test of this model, we have examined D8/17 levels on the B cells of patients with TD and acute rheumatic fever (ARF) along with those on the B cells of normal controls by flow cytometry. We have utilized several different preparations of D8/17 antibody along with a variety of secondary antibodies but have been unable to show an association with an elevated percentage of D8/17-positive, CD19-positive B cells in either ARF or TD. We did find, however, that the percentages of CD19-positive B cells in ARF and TD patients were significantly elevated compared to those in normal controls. Group A streptococcal pharyngitis patients also had an elevated percentage of CD19 B cells, however. These studies failed to confirm the utility of determining the percentage of B cells expressing the D8/17 alloantigen in ARF patients or our sample of TD patients. In contrast, the percentage of CD19-positive B cells was significantly elevated in ARF and TD patients, as well as group A streptococcal pharyngitis patients, suggesting a role for inflammation and/or autoimmunity in the pathogenesis of these disorders.
Many of the chronic inflammatory and degenerative disorders that present to clinical rheumatologists have a complex genetic aetiology. Over the past decade a dramatic improvement in technology and methodology has accelerated the pace of gene discovery in complex disorders in an exponential fashion. In this review, we focus on rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and ankylosing spondylitis and describe some of the recently described genes that underlie these conditions and the extent to which they overlap. The next decade will witness a full account of the main disease susceptibility genes in these diseases and progress in establishing the molecular basis by which genetic variation contributes to pathogenesis.
miRNAs have been shown to play essential regulatory roles in the innate immune system. They function at multiple levels to shape the innate immune response and maintain homeostasis by direct suppression of the expression of their target proteins, preferentially crucial signaling components and transcription factors. Studies in humans and in disease models have revealed that dysregulation of several miRNAs such as miR-146a and miR-155 in rheumatic diseases leads to aberrant production of and/or signaling by inflammatory cytokines and, thus, critically contributes to disease pathogenesis. In addition, the recent description of the role of certain extracellular miRNAs as innate immune agonist to induce inflammatory response would have direct relevance to rheumatic diseases.
Pain that accompanies musculoskeletal conditions should be regarded as an illness entity in its own right and deserves treatment in parallel with the management of the underlying condition. Recent understanding of the pathophysiology of rheumatic pain invokes interplay of the nociceptive mechanisms driven by local tissue factors and the neurogenic responses that sustain chronic pain. In line with other pain conditions, ideal treatment of rheumatic pain should be through a multimodal approach, integrating nonpharmacologic as well as pharmacologic treatments. In the light of this new concept of pain mechanisms, future pharmacologic treatment options may encompass a wider scope than the use of traditional analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There is currently limited experience for use of pharmacologic treatments that act primarily on neurogenic mechanisms in rheumatic conditions. Drug combination studies are lacking, but this strategy seems clinically reasonable to allow for an approach to treating pain from different mechanistic perspectives. An added advantage would be the opportunity to use lower doses of individual drugs and thereby reduce the side effect profile. Ideal pain management must also include attention to the important co-associates of pain such as effects on sleep, mood and energy, which all have an impact on the global burden of suffering. Although complete relief of pain is still an unrealistic objective, reasonable outcome goals for symptom relief should be accompanied with an improvement in function.
adjuvant; rheumatic pain; treatment
Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) was originally identified in the culture medium of activated T lymphocytes as a soluble factor that inhibited the random migration of macrophages. MIF is now recognized to be a multipotent cytokine involved in the regulation of immune and inflammatory responses. Moreover, the pivotal nature of its involvement highlights the importance of MIF to the pathogenesis of various inflammatory disorders and suggests that blocking MIF may be a useful therapeutic strategy for treating these diseases. This paper discusses the function and expressional regulation of MIF in several rheumatic diseases and related conditions.
Angiogenesis is important in the pathogenesis of systemic inflammatory rheumatic diseases, a family of related disorders that includes rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis. Rheumatoid arthritis is the rheumatic disease in which the role of angiogenesis has been studied most extensively. However, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by excessive angiogenesis, the situation is not as clear cut in other rheumatic diseases. For example, systemic sclerosis is characterized by reduced capillary density with insufficient angiogenic responses. Results with angiogenesis inhibitors are controversial, and there is – in parallel – a wide range of upregulated angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor. Dysregulation of angiogenesis in systemic sclerosis is accompanied by other pathogenic processes, including fibrosis, autoimmunity and vasculopathy. Animal models with at least partial features of the vasculopathy observed in systemic sclerosis include wound healing models, graft versus host disease models and, in particular, the University of California at Davis line 200 chicken model of systemic sclerosis.
Major developments have taken place to further our understanding of the relationship between genetics and the environment in the pathogenesis of rheumatic disorders. The association between HLA markers and human disease is becoming clearer. For instance, HLA-DRW4 frequently occurs in patients with rheumatoid disease, and penicillamine and gold toxicity are seen most often in patients with HLA-DRW2 or DRW3. Antisera to B alloantigens help define the genetic differences between systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. As yet, the most dramatic link is that between HLA-B27 and primary ankylosing spondylitis. This same antigen is related, to varying degrees, with other members of the seronegative spondylarthritides and there is strong evidence that this association is related to HLA-B27, itself, rather than an associated disease gene. Nevertheless, some data refute a single gene theory. We are just beginning to learn more about interactions between different genes on the sixth chromosome and genes on other chromosomes.
The sex ratio of the spondylarthritides is now better defined. Sacroiliitis may have a comparable sex distribution although females have more peripheral joint disease and males have greater spinal involvement. Unfortunately, the explanation for these differences remains elusive.
The specific infective agents related to the development of rheumatic disorders are becoming clarified. Chlamydia, Salmonella, Yersinia and Shigella flexneri types 1b and 2a are arthritogenic, while Shigella sonnei appears not to cause disease. Although the Reiter syndrome is now considered a chronic disease, the reason for remissions and relapses remains unclear.
Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease are serious autoimmune sequelae to infections with Streptococcus pyogenes. Streptococcal M-proteins have been implicated in ARF pathogenesis. Their interaction with collagen type IV (CIV) is a triggering step that induces generation of collagen-specific auto-antibodies. Electron microscopy of the protein complex between M-protein type 3 (M3-protein) and CIV identified two prominent binding sites of which one is situated in the CB3-region of CIV. In a radioactive binding assay, M3-protein expressing S. pyogenes and S. gordonii bound the CB3-fragment. Detailed analysis of the interactions by surface plasmon resonance measurements and site directed mutagenesis revealed high affinity interactions with dissociation constants in the nanomolar range that depend on the recently described collagen binding motif of streptococcal M-proteins. Because of its role in the induction of disease-related collagen autoimmunity the motif is referred to as “peptide associated with rheumatic fever” (PARF). Both, sera of mice immunized with M3-protein as well as sera from patients with ARF contained anti-CB3 auto-antibodies, indicating their contribution to ARF pathogenesis. The identification of the CB3-region as a binding partner for PARF directs the further approaches to understand the unusual autoimmune pathogenesis of PARF-dependent ARF and forms a molecular basis for a diagnostic test that detects rheumatogenic streptococci.
Diseases such as degenerative or rheumatoid arthritis are accompanied by joint destruction. Clinically applied tissue engineering technologies like autologous chondrocyte implantation, matrix-assisted chondrocyte implantation, or in situ recruitment of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells target the treatment of traumatic defects or of early osteoarthritis. Inflammatory conditions in the joint hamper the application of tissue engineering during chronic joint diseases. Here, most likely, cartilage formation is impaired and engineered neocartilage will be degraded. Based on the observations that mesenchymal stem cells (a) develop into joint tissues and (b) in vitro and in vivo show immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory qualities indicating a transplant-protecting activity, these cells are prominent candidates for future tissue engineering approaches for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. Tissue engineering also provides highly organized three-dimensional in vitro culture models of human cells and their extracellular matrix for arthritis research.
The future of personalized medicine depends on advanced diagnostic tools to characterize responders and non-responders to treatment. Systems diagnosis is a new approach which aims to capture a large amount of symptom information from patients to characterize relevant sub-groups.
49 patients with a rheumatic disease were characterized using a systems diagnosis questionnaire containing 106 questions based on Chinese and Western medicine symptoms. Categorical principal component analysis (CATPCA) was used to discover differences in symptom patterns between the patients. Two Chinese medicine experts where subsequently asked to rank the Cold and Heat status of all the patients based on the questionnaires. These rankings were used to study the Cold and Heat symptoms used by these practitioners.
The CATPCA analysis results in three dimensions. The first dimension is a general factor (40.2% explained variance). In the second dimension (12.5% explained variance) ‘anxious’, ‘worrying’, ‘uneasy feeling’ and ‘distressed’ were interpreted as the Internal disease stage, and ‘aggravate in wind’, ‘fear of wind’ and ‘aversion to cold’ as the External disease stage. In the third dimension (10.4% explained variance) ‘panting s’, ‘superficial breathing’, ‘shortness of breath s’, ‘shortness of breath f’ and ‘aversion to cold’ were interpreted as Cold and ‘restless’, ‘nervous’, ‘warm feeling’, ‘dry mouth s’ and ‘thirst’ as Heat related. ‘Aversion to cold’, ‘fear of wind’ and ‘pain aggravates with cold’ are most related to the experts Cold rankings and ‘aversion to heat’, ‘fullness of chest’ and ‘dry mouth’ to the Heat rankings.
This study shows that the presented systems diagnosis questionnaire is able to identify groups of symptoms that are relevant for sub-typing patients with a rheumatic disease.
There is a debate whether post-streptococcal reactive arthritis (PSRA) is a separate entity or a condition on the spectrum of acute rheumatic fever (ARF). We believe that PSRA is a distinct entity and in this paper we review the substantial differences between PSRA and ARF. We show how the demographic, clinical, genetic and treatment characteristics of PSRA differ from ARF. We review diagnostic criteria and regression formulas that attempt to classify patients with PSRA as opposed to ARF. The important implication of these findings may relate to the issue of prophylactic antibiotics after PSRA. However, future trials will be necessary to conclusively answer that question.
Autoimmune rheumatic diseases, such as RA and SLE, are caused by genetic, hormonal and environmental factors. Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) may be triggers of autoimmune rheumatic disease. HERVs are fossil viruses that began to be integrated into the human genome some 30-40 million years ago and now make up 8% of the genome. Evidence suggests HERVs may cause RA and SLE, among other rheumatic diseases. The key mechanisms by which HERVS are postulated to cause disease include molecular mimicry and immune dysregulation. Identification of HERVs in RA and SLE could lead to novel treatments for these chronic conditions. This review summarises the evidence for HERVs as contributors to autoimmune rheumatic disease and the clinical implications and mechanisms of pathogenesis are discussed.
Human endogenous retrovirus; HERV; rheumatoid arthritis; molecular mimicry; bioinformatics.
Angiogenesis plays a key role in several rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, systemic sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and vasculitides. An imbalance between angiogenic inducers and inhibitors seems to be a critical factor in pathogenesis of these diseases. Macrophages promote angiogenesis during rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, macrophages can produce a variety of pro-angiogenic factors that have been associated with the angiogenic response occurring during other rheumatic diseases. Lastly, macrophages could be a target in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Nevertheless, further studies are needed to better elucidate the exact role of macrophage in angiogenesis in these diseases.
Angiogenesis; Arthritis; Connectivities; Macrophage; Vasculitides
The majority of autoimmune diseases predominate in females. In searching for an explanation for this female excess, most attention has focused on hormonal changes - both exogenous changes (for example, oral contraceptive pill) and fluctuations in endogenous hormone levels particularly related to menstruation and pregnancy history. Other reasons include genetic differences, both direct (influence of genes on sex chromosomes) and indirect (such as microchimerism), as well as gender differences in lifestyle factors. These will all be reviewed, focusing on the major autoimmune connective tissue disorders: rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and scleroderma.
Management of patients with inflammatory rheumatic disease and a history of (or even a current) malignant disease poses some particular challenges. As direct evidence of the risk of (recurrent or de novo) malignancy in patients with a history of malignant disease is scarce, such a risk may be estimated indirectly from the principal carcinogenicity of the respective drug to be used or (also indirectly) from cancer reactivation data from the transplant literature. In general, cancer risk is increased in patients receiving combination immunosuppressive treatment, but the risk in patients receiving individual drugs (with the exception of alkylating agents) remains entirely unclear. Indirect evidence supports the intuitive concept that the risk of cancer decreases over time after a successful cancer treatment. The only two studies in rheumatic patients with a cancer history were small and have not been able to show an increase in cancer reactivation. The risk of reactivation also depends on the site and location of the prior malignancy. In conclusion, the decision to treat a patient with a history of cancer immunosuppressively should be shared by the rheumatologist and the oncologist. Once the decision is established, such patients need intensive and close monitoring.
The principles of when to refer in rheumatologic disorders vary little from the general pattern, but some disease-specific advice is helpful. Follow the age-old tenets of referring if diagnosis is uncertain, if treatment advice is needed, or if you are unable to meet the many needs of patients with chronic illnesses. It is often valuable to ask why the patient wants a referral. Education, referral to allied health professionals, and assessing how well you are supporting the patient are all important. It is also essential to maintain contact with both patient and consultant if referral is necessary.
family medicine; referral; rheumatology; specialist consultants