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1.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in African Americans With Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis care & research  2014;66(2):180-189.
Racial/ethnic differences with regard to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use have been reported in the US. However, specific details of CAM use by African Americans with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are lacking.
Data were collected from African Americans with RA enrolled in a multicenter registry regarding the use of CAM, including food supplements, topical applications, activities, and alternative care providers. Factors associated with CAM use by sex and disease duration were assessed using t-test, Wilcoxon’s rank sum test, chi-square test, and logistic regression analyses.
Of the 855 participants, 85% were women and mean age at enrollment was 54 years. Overall, ever using any of the CAM treatments, activities, and providers was 95%, 98%, and 51%, respectively (median of 3 for number of treatments, median of 5 for activities, and median of 1 for providers). Those with longer disease duration (>2 years) were significantly more likely (odds ratio >2.0, P < 0.05) to use raisins soaked in vodka/gin, to take fish oils, or to drink alcoholic beverages for RA treatment than those with early disease. As compared to men, women were significantly (P < 0.05) more likely to pray/attend church, write in a journal, and use biofeedback, but were less likely to smoke tobacco or topically apply household oils for treatment of RA.
CAM use was highly prevalent in this cohort, even in individuals with early disease. Health care providers need to be aware of CAM use as some treatments may potentially have interactions with conventional medicines. This could be important within this cohort of African Americans, where racial disparities are known to affect access to conventional care.
PMCID: PMC3977347  PMID: 23983105
2.  Impact of Maternal and Infant Antiretroviral Drug Regimens on Drug Resistance in HIV-Infected Breastfeeding Infants 
The Pediatric infectious disease journal  2013;32(4):10.1097/INF.0b013e31827f44ee.
The HPTN 046 trial evaluated the efficacy of extended infant nevirapine (NVP) administration for prevention of HIV transmission through breastfeeding. Infants received daily NVP to 6 weeks of age. HIV-uninfected infants (the intent-to-treat group) received daily NVP or placebo up to 6 months of age. We analyzed emergence of NVP resistance in infants who acquired HIV-infection despite prophylaxis.
HIV genotyping was performed using the ViroSeq HIV Genotyping System. Medians and proportions were used to summarize data. Two-sided Fisher’s exact tests were used to evaluate associations between categorical variables.
NVP resistance was detected in 12 (92.3%) of 13 infants who were HIV-infected by 6 weeks and in seven (28%) of 25 infants who were HIV-uninfected at 6 weeks and HIV-infected at 6 months of age (6/8=75% in the NVP arm, 1/17=5.9% in the placebo arm, P=0.001). Among those 25 infants, 4 had mothers who initiated an antiretroviral (ARV) treatment regimen by 6 months postpartum. In all 4 cases, the treatment regimen included a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NVP or efavirenz). NVP resistance was detected in all four of those infants by 6 months of age (4/4=100%). In contrast, only three (14.2%) of the remaining 21 HIV-infected infants whose mothers did not initiate ARV treatment developed NVP resistance (P=0.003).
Extended NVP prophylaxis significantly increased the risk of NVP resistance in infants who acquired HIV infection after 6 weeks of age. Treatment of maternal HIV infection was also associated with emergence of NVP resistance in HIV-infected, breastfed infants.
PMCID: PMC3826537  PMID: 23249916
Nevirapine resistance; prevention of mother-to-child transmission; extended nevirapine; HIV
3.  Predictors of Undiagnosed Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Seropositivity Among Persons Attending an HIV Care Clinic 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2012;39(11):857-859.
We evaluated herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) seropositivity in an HIV clinic–based population with CD4 lymphocytes counts ≥250 cells/μL and no previous knowledge of HSV-2 infection by history of serology. We demonstrate that although the seroprevalence of HSV-2 is higher in this HIV-infected population, predictors of HSV-2 seropositivity are similar to those in the general population.
PMCID: PMC3941199  PMID: 23064534
4.  Estimating the Efficacy of Preexposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention Among Participants With a Threshold Level of Drug Concentration 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;177(3):256-263.
Assays for detecting levels of antiretroviral drugs in study participants are increasingly popular in preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trials, since they provide an objective measure of adherence. Current correlation analyses of drug concentration data are prone to bias. In this article, we formulate the causal estimand of prevention efficacy among drug compliers, those who would have had a threshold level of drug concentration had they been assigned to the drug arm of the trial. The identifiability of the causal estimand is facilitated by exploiting the exclusion restriction; that is, drug noncompliers do not acquire any prevention benefit. In addition, we develop an approach to sensitivity analysis that relaxes the exclusion restriction. Applications to published data from 2 PrEP trials, namely the Preexposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) trial and the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) 004 trial, suggest high efficacy estimates among drug compliers (in the iPrEx trial, odds ratio = 0.097 (95% confidence interval: 0.027, 0.352); in the CAPRISA 004 trial, odds ratio = 0.104 (95% confidence interval: 0.024, 0.447)). In summary, the proposed inferential method provides an unbiased assessment of PrEP efficacy among drug compliers, thus adding to the primary intention-to-treat analysis and correlation analyses of drug concentration data.
PMCID: PMC3577049  PMID: 23302152
causal inference; compliance; exclusion restriction; potential outcome; principal stratification; two-phase sampling
5.  Maternal obesity is associated with the formation of small dense LDL and hypoadiponectinaemia in the third trimester 
Maternal obesity is associated with high plasma triglyceride, poor vascular function and increased risk for pregnancy complications. In normal weight pregnant women, higher triglyceride is associated with increased small, dense LDL.
In obese pregnancy, increased plasma triglyceride concentrations result in triglyceride enrichment of VLDL-1 particles and formation of small dense LDL via lipoprotein lipase.
Women (n=55) of BMI 18-46 kg/m2 were sampled longitudinally at 12, 26 and 35 weeks’ gestation and 4 months post-natal.
Women were recruited at hospital antenatal appointments and study visits were in a clinical research suite.
Outcome measures
Plasma concentrations of lipids, triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, lipoprotein lipase mass, estradiol, steroid hormone binding globulin, insulin, glucose, leptin and adiponectin were determined.
Obese women commenced pregnancy with higher plasma triglyceride, reached the same maximum and then returned to higher post-natal levels than normal weight women. Estradiol response to pregnancy (trimester 1-3 incremental area under the curve) was positively associated with plasma triglyceride response (r2 adjusted 25%, P<0.001). In the third trimester, the proportion of small, dense LDL-III was 2 fold higher in obese women than normal weight women (mean [SD] 40.7[18.8] vs 21.9[10.9] %, P<0.005), and 35% of obese, 14% of overweight and none of the normal weight women displayed an atherogenic LDL subfraction phenotype. The LDL-III mass response to pregnancy was inversely associated with adiponectin response (17%, P=0.013).
Maternal obesity is associated with an atherogenic LDL subfraction phenotype and may provide a mechanistic link to poor vascular function and adverse pregnancy outcome.
PMCID: PMC3736085  PMID: 23337718
pregnancy; lipids; obesity
6.  SNPs in VKORC1 are Risk Factors for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Asians 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(1):211-215.
The increased risk of thrombosis in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may be partially explained by interrelated genetic pathways for thrombosis and SLE. In a case-control analysis, we investigated whether 33 established and novel single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in 20 genes involved in hemostasis pathways that have been associated with deep venous thrombosis in the general population were risk factors for SLE development among Asians.
Patients in the discovery cohort were enrolled in one of two North American SLE cohorts. Patients in the replication cohort were enrolled in one of four Asian or two North American cohorts. SLE cases met American College of Rheumatology classification criteria. We first genotyped 263 Asian SLE and 357 healthy Asian control individuals for 33 SNPs using Luminex multiplex technology in the discovery phase, and then used Taqman and Immunochip assays to examine 5 SNPs in up to an additional 1496 cases and 993 controls in the Replication phase. SLE patients were compared to healthy controls for association with minor alleles in allelic models. Principal components analysis was used to control for intra-Asian ancestry in an analysis of the replication cohort.
Two genetic variants in the gene VKORC1, rs9934438 and rs9923231, were highly significant in both the discovery and replication cohorts: OR(disc) = 2.45 (p=2×10−9), OR(rep) = 1.53 (p=5×10−6) and OR(disc) = 2.40 (p=6×10−9), OR(rep) = 1.53 (p=5×10−6), respectively. These associations were significant in the replication cohort after adjustment for intra-Asian ancestry: rs9934438 OR(adj) = 1.34 (p=0.0029) and rs9923231 OR(adj) = 1.34 (p=0.0032).
Genetic variants in VKORC1, involved in vitamin K reduction and associated with DVT, are associated with SLE development in Asians. These results suggest intersecting genetic pathways for the development of SLE and thrombosis.
PMCID: PMC3670944  PMID: 23124848
systemic lupus erythematosus; single nucleotide polymorphisms; genetic risk factors
7.  Differences in the Composition of the Human Antibody Repertoire by B Cell Subsets in the Blood 
The vast initial diversity of the antibody repertoire is generated centrally by means of a complex series of V(D)J gene rearrangement events, variation in the site of gene segment joining, and TdT catalyzed N-region addition. Although the diversity is great, close inspection has revealed distinct and unique characteristics in the antibody repertoires expressed by different B cell developmental subsets. In order to illustrate our approach to repertoire analysis, we present an in-depth comparison of V(D)J gene usage, hydrophobicity, length, DH reading frame, and amino acid usage between heavy chain repertoires expressed by immature, transitional, mature, memory IgD+, memory IgD−, and plasmacytes isolated from the blood of a single individual. Our results support the view that in both human and mouse, the H chain repertoires expressed by individual, developmental B cell subsets appear to differ in sequence content. Sequencing of unsorted B cells from the blood is thus likely to yield an incomplete or compressed view of what is actually happening in the immune response of the individual. Our findings support the view that studies designed to correlate repertoire expression with diseases of immune function will likely require deep sequencing of B cells sorted by subset.
PMCID: PMC3958703  PMID: 24678310
human antibody repertoire; CDR-H3; B cells subsets
8.  Impact of Pill Sharing on Drug Resistance Due to a Wide-Scale Oral Prep Intervention in Generalized Epidemics 
Journal of AIDS & clinical research  2012;Suppl 5(4):S5-004.
The first antiretroviral drug (Truvada) to be used as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in preventing HIV transmission is about to be approved. Behavioral studies suggest that a portion of users may share anti-retroviral drugs with sex partners, family, or friends. Pill sharing will decrease PrEP efficacy and adherence level, and potentially create an environment favorable for the development of drug resistance. We aim to evaluate the potential impact of pill sharing on the PrEP effectiveness and on the rates of drug-resistance development in heterosexual populations.
A transmission dynamic model was used to assess the population-level impact of oral PrEP. The fractions of new HIV infections prevented (CPF), drug resistance prevalence and the proportion of new infections in which drug-resistant HIV is transmitted (TDR) are evaluated over fixed time periods. The influence of different factors on CPF and TDR is studied through simulations, using epidemic parameters representative of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Without pill sharing, a 70% efficacious PrEP used consistently by 60% of uninfected individuals prevents 52.8% (95% CI 49.4%-56.4%) of all new HIV infections over ten years with drug-resistant HIV transmitted in 2.2% of the new infections. Absolute CPF may vary by 9% if up to 20% of the users share PrEP while the level of TDR and total resistance prevalence may increase by up to 6-fold due to pill sharing in some intervention scenarios.
Pill sharing may increase the PrEP coverage level achieved in the population but it also affects the PrEP efficacy for the users who do not follow the prescribed schedule. More importantly, it creates a pool of untracked users who remain unreached by the effort to avoid sub-optimal PrEP usage by infected people. This increases substantially the potential risk of drug resistance in the population.
PMCID: PMC3870903  PMID: 24371543
HIV; Pill sharing; Pre-exposure prophylaxis
9.  Analytic Review of Modeling Studies of ARV Based PrEP Interventions Reveals Strong Influence of Drug-Resistance Assumptions on the Population-Level Effectiveness 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80927.
Four clinical trials have shown that oral and topical pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) based on tenofovir may be effective in preventing HIV transmission. The expected reduction in HIV transmission and the projected prevalence of drug resistance due to PrEP use vary significantly across modeling studies as a result of the broad spectrum of assumptions employed. Our goal is to quantify the influence of drug resistance assumptions on the predicted population-level impact of PrEP.
All modeling studies which evaluate the impact of oral or topical PrEP are reviewed and key assumptions regarding mechanisms of generation and spread of drug-resistant HIV are identified. A dynamic model of the HIV epidemic is developed to assess and compare the impact of oral PrEP using resistance assumptions extracted from published studies. The benefits and risks associated with ten years of PrEP use are evaluated under identical epidemic, behavioral and intervention conditions in terms of cumulative fractions of new HIV infections prevented, resistance prevalence among those infected with HIV, and fractions of infections in which resistance is transmitted.
Published models demonstrate enormous variability in resistance-generating assumptions and uncertainty in parameter values. Depending on which resistance parameterization is used, a resistance prevalence between 2% and 44% may be expected if 50% efficacious oral PrEP is used consistently by 50% of the population over ten years. We estimated that resistance may be responsible for up to a 10% reduction or up to a 30% contribution to the fraction of prevented infections predicted in different studies.
Resistance assumptions used in published studies have a strong influence on the projected impact of PrEP. Modelers and virologists should collaborate toward clarifying the set of resistance assumptions biologically relevant to the PrEP products which are already in use or soon to be added to the arsenal against HIV.
PMCID: PMC3840039  PMID: 24282559
10.  Two Independent Functional Risk Haplotypes in TNIP1 are Associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3695-3705.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production and altered type I interferon expression. Genetic surveys and genome-wide association studies have identified more than 30 SLE susceptibility genes. One of these genes, TNIP1, encodes the ABIN1 protein. ABIN1 functions in the immune system by restricting the NF-κB signaling. In order to better understand the genetic factors that influence association with SLE in genes that regulate the NF-κB pathway, we analyzed a dense set of genetic markers spanning TNIP1 and TAX1BP1, as well as the TNIP1 homolog, TNIP2, in case-control sets of diverse ethnic origins.
We fine-mapped TNIP1, TNIP2, and TAX1BP1 in a total of 8372 SLE cases and 7492 healthy controls from European-ancestry, African-American, Hispanic, East Asian, and African-American Gullah populations. Levels of TNIP1 mRNA and ABIN1 protein were analyzed using quantitative RT-PCR and Western blotting, respectively, in EBV-transformed human B cell lines.
We found significant associations between genetic variants within TNIP1 and SLE but not in TNIP2 or TAX1BP1. After resequencing and imputation, we identified two independent risk haplotypes within TNIP1 in individuals of European-ancestry that were also present in African-American and Hispanic populations. These risk haplotypes produced lower levels of TNIP1 mRNA and ABIN1 protein suggesting they harbor hypomorphic functional variants that influence susceptibility to SLE by restricting ABIN1 expression.
Our results confirmed the association signals between SLE and TNIP1 variants in multiple populations and provide new insight into the mechanism by which TNIP1 variants may contribute to SLE pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3485412  PMID: 22833143
11.  Impact of Genetic Ancestry and Socio-Demographic Status on the Clinical Expression of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Amerindian-European Populations 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3687-3694.
Amerindian-Europeans, Asians and African-Americans have an excess morbidity from SLE and higher prevalence of lupus nephritis than Caucasians. The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between genetic ancestry and socio-demographic characteristics and clinical features in a large cohort of Amerindian-European SLE patients.
A total of 2116 SLE patients of Amerindian-European origin and 4001 SLE patients of European descent with clinical data were used in the study. Genotyping of 253 continental ancestry informative markers was performed on the Illumina platform. The STRUCTURE and ADMIXTURE software were used to determine genetic ancestry of each individual. Correlation between ancestry and socio-demographic and clinical data were analyzed using logistic regression.
The average Amerindian genetic ancestry of 2116 SLE patients was 40.7%. There was an increased risk of having renal involvement (P<0.0001, OR= 3.50 95%CI 2.63-4.63) and an early age of onset with the presence of Amerindian genetic ancestry (P<0.0001). Amerindian ancestry protected against photosensitivity (P<0.0001, OR= 0.58 95%CI 0.44-0.76), oral ulcers (P<0.0001, OR= 0.55 95%CI 0.42-0.72), and serositis (P<0.0001, OR= 0.56 95%CI 0.41-0.75) after adjustment by age, gender and age of onset. However, gender and age of onset had stronger effects on malar rash, discoid rash, arthritis and neurological involvement than genetic ancestry.
In general, genetic Amerindian ancestry correlates with lower socio-demographic status and increases the risk for developing renal involvement and SLE at an earlier age of onset.
PMCID: PMC3485439  PMID: 22886787
12.  Integrative taxonomy resolves the cryptic and pseudo-cryptic Radula buccinifera complex (Porellales, Jungermanniopsida), including two reinstated and five new species 
PhytoKeys  2013;1-113.
Molecular data from three chloroplast markers resolve individuals attributable to Radula buccinifera in six lineages belonging to two subgenera, indicating the species is polyphyletic as currently circumscribed. All lineages are morphologically diagnosable, but one pair exhibits such morphological overlap that they can be considered cryptic. Molecular and morphological data justify the re-instatement of a broadly circumscribed ecologically variable R. strangulata, of R. mittenii, and the description of five new species. Two species Radula mittenii Steph. and R. notabilis sp. nov. are endemic to the Wet Tropics Bioregion of north-east Queensland, suggesting high diversity and high endemism might characterise the bryoflora of this relatively isolated wet-tropical region. Radula demissa sp. nov. is endemic to southern temperate Australasia, and like R. strangulata occurs on both sides of the Tasman Sea. Radula imposita sp. nov. is a twig and leaf epiphyte found in association with waterways in New South Wales and Queensland. Another species, R. pugioniformis sp. nov., has been confused with Radula buccinifera but was not included in the molecular phylogeny. Morphological data suggest it may belong to subg. Odontoradula. Radula buccinifera is endemic to Australia including Western Australia and Tasmania, and to date is known from south of the Clarence River on the north coast of New South Wales. Nested within R. buccinifera is a morphologically distinct plant from Norfolk Island described as R. anisotoma sp. nov. Radula australiana is resolved as monophyletic, sister to a species occurring in east coast Australian rainforests, and nesting among the R. buccinifera lineages with strong support. The molecular phylogeny suggests several long-distance dispersal events may have occurred. These include two east-west dispersal events from New Zealand to Tasmania and south-east Australia in R. strangulata, one east-west dispersal event from Tasmania to Western Australia in R. buccinifera, and at least one west-east dispersal from Australia to New Zealand in R. australiana. Another west-east dispersal event from Australia to Norfolk Island may have led to the budding speciation of R. anisotoma. In contrast, Radula demissa is phylogeographically subdivided into strongly supported clades either side of the Tasman Sea, suggesting long distance dispersal is infrequent in this species.
PMCID: PMC3821098  PMID: 24223490
Radulaceae; Radula subg. Metaradula; Radula anisotoma; Radula australiana; Radula buccinifera; Radula demissa; Radula imposita; Radula mittenii; Radula notabilis; Radula pugioniformis; Radula strangulata; sp. nov.; morphology; DNA sequence data; Australia; New Zealand; Flora; liverwort; dispersal; biogeography; cryptic species
13.  Preferential Binding to Elk-1 by SLE-Associated IL10 Risk Allele Upregulates IL10 Expression 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003870.
Immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) is elevated in sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) correlating with disease activity. The established association of IL10 with SLE and other autoimmune diseases led us to fine map causal variant(s) and to explore underlying mechanisms. We assessed 19 tag SNPs, covering the IL10 gene cluster including IL19, IL20 and IL24, for association with SLE in 15,533 case and control subjects from four ancestries. The previously reported IL10 variant, rs3024505 located at 1 kb downstream of IL10, exhibited the strongest association signal and was confirmed for association with SLE in European American (EA) (P = 2.7×10−8, OR = 1.30), but not in non-EA ancestries. SNP imputation conducted in EA dataset identified three additional SLE-associated SNPs tagged by rs3024505 (rs3122605, rs3024493 and rs3024495 located at 9.2 kb upstream, intron 3 and 4 of IL10, respectively), and SLE-risk alleles of these SNPs were dose-dependently associated with elevated levels of IL10 mRNA in PBMCs and circulating IL-10 protein in SLE patients and controls. Using nuclear extracts of peripheral blood cells from SLE patients for electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we identified specific binding of transcription factor Elk-1 to oligodeoxynucleotides containing the risk (G) allele of rs3122605, suggesting rs3122605 as the most likely causal variant regulating IL10 expression. Elk-1 is known to be activated by phosphorylation and nuclear localization to induce transcription. Of interest, phosphorylated Elk-1 (p-Elk-1) detected only in nuclear extracts of SLE PBMCs appeared to increase with disease activity. Co-expression levels of p-Elk-1 and IL-10 were elevated in SLE T, B cells and monocytes, associated with increased disease activity in SLE B cells, and were best downregulated by ERK inhibitor. Taken together, our data suggest that preferential binding of activated Elk-1 to the IL10 rs3122605-G allele upregulates IL10 expression and confers increased risk for SLE in European Americans.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a debilitating autoimmune disease characterized by the production of pathogenic autoantibodies, has a strong genetic basis. Variants of the IL10 gene, which encodes cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) with known function of promoting B cell hyperactivity and autoantibody production, are associated with SLE and other autoimmune diseases, and serum IL-10 levels are elevated in SLE patients correlating with increased disease activity. In this study, to discover SLE-predisposing causal variant(s), we assessed variants within the genomic region containing IL10 and its gene family member IL19, IL20 and IL24 for association with SLE in case and control subjects from diverse ancestries. We identified SLE-associated SNP rs3122605 located at 9.2 kb upstream of IL10 as the most likely causal variant in subjects of European ancestry. The SLE-risk allele of rs3122605 was dose-dependently associated with elevated IL10 expression at both mRNA and protein levels in peripheral blood samples from SLE patients and controls, which could be explained, at least in part, by its preferential binding to Elk-1, a transcription factor activated in B cells during active disease of SLE patients. Elk-1-mediated IL-10 overexpression could be downregulated by inhibiting activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, suggesting a potential therapeutic target for SLE.
PMCID: PMC3794920  PMID: 24130510
14.  Placental Malaria and Mother-to-Child Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 
There are few studies of the association between placental malaria (PM) and mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1), and the results of published studies are inconsistent. To determine the association between PM and MTCT of HIV-1, we performed a secondary analysis of data from a clinical trial of antibiotics to reduce chorioamnionitis. Data regarding 1,662 HIV-1–infected women with live born singleton and first-born twin infants with information regarding PM and infant HIV-1 infection status at birth were analyzed. At the time of the study, women did not have access to antiretroviral drugs for treatment of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome but had received nevirapine prophylaxis to reduce the risk of MTCT of HIV-1. Placental malaria was not associated with the infant HIV-1 infection status at birth ( P = 0.67). Adjustment for maternal plasma viral load and CD4+ cell count did not change these results (odds ratio = 1.06, 95% confidence interval = 0.51–2.20, P = 0.87). Placental malaria was more likely to be related to HIV-1 infection at birth among women with low viral load at baseline (P for interaction = 0.08). In conclusion, PM was not associated with infant HIV-1 infection status at birth. The interaction of maternal plasma viral load, PM, and MTCT of HIV-1 warrants further studies.
PMCID: PMC3775571  PMID: 19346367
15.  Population-Level Benefits from Providing Effective HIV Prevention Means to Pregnant Women in High Prevalence Settings 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73770.
HIV prevalence among pregnant women in Southern Africa is extremely high. Epidemiological studies suggest that pregnancy increases the risk of HIV sexual acquisition and that HIV infections acquired during pregnancy carry higher risk of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). We analyze the potential benefits from extending the availability of effective microbicide to pregnant women (in addition to non-pregnant women) in a wide-scale intervention.
Methods and Findings
A transmission dynamic model was designed to assess the impact of microbicide use in high HIV prevalence settings and to estimate proportions of new HIV infections, infections acquired during pregnancy, and MTCT prevented over 10 years. Our analysis suggests that consistent use of microbicide with 70% efficacy by 60% of non-pregnant women may prevent approximately 40% and 15% of new infections in women and men respectively over 10 years, assuming no additional increase in HIV risk to either partner during pregnancy (RRHIV/preg = 1). It may also prevent 8–15% MTCT depending on the increase in MTCT risk when HIV is acquired during pregnancy compared to before pregnancy (RRMTCT/preg). Extending the microbicides use during pregnancy may improve the effectiveness of the intervention by 10% (RRHIV/preg = 1) to 25% (RRHIV/preg = 2) and reduce the number of HIV infections acquired during pregnancy by 40% to 70% in different scenarios. It may add between 6% (RRHIV/preg = 1, RRMTCT/preg = 1) and 25% (RRHIV/preg = 2, RRMTCT/preg = 4) to the reduction in the residual MTCT.
Providing safe and effective microbicide to pregnant women in the context of wide-scale interventions would be desirable as it would increase the effectiveness of the intervention and significantly reduce the number of HIV infections acquired during pregnancy. The projected benefits from covering pregnant women by the HIV prevention programs is more substantial in communities in which the sexual risk during pregnancy is elevated.
PMCID: PMC3774771  PMID: 24066069
16.  Measurement of Erythrocyte Methotrexate Polyglutamate Levels: Ready for Clinical Use in Rheumatoid Arthritis? 
Current rheumatology reports  2010;12(5):342-347.
Methotrexate (MTX) is one of the most commonly prescribed and most effective drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Given the partial response of many patients and the side effect profile of the drug, there is considerable interest in identification of biomarkers to guide MTX therapy in RA. Upon entering cells, MTX is polyglutamated. Measuring methotrexate polyglutamates (MTX PGs) levels in circulating red blood cells (RBC) has been proposed as an objective measure that can help to optimize MTX therapy in RA. There is conflicting data with regard to the clinical utility of measurement of MTX PGs measurements as a predictor of the efficacy or toxicity of low-dose MTX effects in RA. Should large, randomized clinical trials of this assay show consistent, reproducible, long-term correlations between MTX PG levels and efficacy and toxicity, this test could become a prominent tool for clinicians to optimize the use of MTX in RA.
PMCID: PMC3769795  PMID: 20665136
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Methotrexate; Polyglutamates
17.  PTPN22 Association in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) with Respect to Individual Ancestry and Clinical Sub-Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e69404.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 (PTPN22) is a negative regulator of T-cell activation associated with several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Missense rs2476601 is associated with SLE in individuals with European ancestry. Since the rs2476601 risk allele frequency differs dramatically across ethnicities, we assessed robustness of PTPN22 association with SLE and its clinical sub-phenotypes across four ethnically diverse populations. Ten SNPs were genotyped in 8220 SLE cases and 7369 controls from in European-Americans (EA), African-Americans (AA), Asians (AS), and Hispanics (HS). We performed imputation-based association followed by conditional analysis to identify independent associations. Significantly associated SNPs were tested for association with SLE clinical sub-phenotypes, including autoantibody profiles. Multiple testing was accounted for by using false discovery rate. We successfully imputed and tested allelic association for 107 SNPs within the PTPN22 region and detected evidence of ethnic-specific associations from EA and HS. In EA, the strongest association was at rs2476601 (P = 4.7×10−9, OR = 1.40 (95% CI = 1.25–1.56)). Independent association with rs1217414 was also observed in EA, and both SNPs are correlated with increased European ancestry. For HS imputed intronic SNP, rs3765598, predicted to be a cis-eQTL, was associated (P = 0.007, OR = 0.79 and 95% CI = 0.67–0.94). No significant associations were observed in AA or AS. Case-only analysis using lupus-related clinical criteria revealed differences between EA SLE patients positive for moderate to high titers of IgG anti-cardiolipin (aCL IgG >20) versus negative aCL IgG at rs2476601 (P = 0.012, OR = 1.65). Association was reinforced when these cases were compared to controls (P = 2.7×10−5, OR = 2.11). Our results validate that rs2476601 is the most significantly associated SNP in individuals with European ancestry. Additionally, rs1217414 and rs3765598 may be associated with SLE. Further studies are required to confirm the involvement of rs2476601 with aCL IgG.
PMCID: PMC3737240  PMID: 23950893
18.  Variable association of reactive intermediate genes with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in populations with different African ancestry 
The Journal of rheumatology  2013;40(6):842-849.
Little is known about the genetic etiology of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in individuals of African ancestry, despite its higher prevalence and greater disease severity. Overproduction of nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species are implicated in the pathogenesis and severity of SLE, making NO synthases and other reactive intermediate related genes biological candidates for disease susceptibility. This study analyzed variation in reactive intermediate genes for association with SLE in two populations with African ancestry.
A total of 244 SNPs from 53 regions were analyzed in non-Gullah African Americans (AA; 1432 cases and 1687 controls) and the genetically more homogeneous Gullah of the Sea Islands of South Carolina (133 cases and 112 controls) and. Single-marker, haplotype, and two-locus interaction tests were computed for these populations.
The glutathione reductase gene GSR (rs2253409, P=0.0014, OR [95% CI]=1.26 [1.09–1.44]) was the most significant single-SNP association in AA. In the Gullah, the NADH dehydrogenase NDUFS4 (rs381575, P=0.0065, OR [95%CI]=2.10 [1.23–3.59]) and nitric oxide synthase gene NOS1 (rs561712, P=0.0072, OR [95%CI]=0.62 [0.44–0.88]) were most strongly associated with SLE. When both populations were analyzed together, GSR remained the most significant effect (rs2253409, P=0.00072, OR [95%CI]=1.26 [1.10–1.44]). Haplotype and two-locus interaction analyses also uncovered different loci in each population.
These results suggest distinct patterns of association with SLE in African-derived populations; specific loci may be more strongly associated within select population groups.
PMCID: PMC3735344  PMID: 23637325
systemic lupus erythematosus; African Americans; genetic association studies; oxygen compounds; single nucleotide polymorphism
19.  Mutations in the INF2 gene account for a significant proportion of familial but not sporadic focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis 
Kidney international  2012;83(2):316-322.
Mutations in the inverted formin 2 gene (INF2) have recently been identified as the most common cause of autosomal dominant focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). In order to quantify the contribution of various genes contributing to FSGS, we sequenced INF2 where all mutations have previously been described (exons 2 to 5) in a total of 215 probands and 281 sporadic individuals with FSGS, along with other known genes accounting for autosomal dominant FSGS (ACTN4, TRPC6 and CD2AP) in 213 probands. Variants were classified as disease-causing if they altered the amino acid sequence, were not found in control samples, and in families segregated with disease. Mutations in INF2 were found in a total of 20 of the 215 families (including those previously reported) in our cohort of autosomal dominant familial nephrotic syndrome or FSGS, thereby explaining disease in 9 percent. INF2 mutations were found in 2 of 281 individuals with sporadic FSGS. In contrast, ACTN4 and TRPC6-related disease accounted for 3 and 2 percent of our familial cohort, respectively. INF2-related disease showed variable penetrance, with onset of disease ranging widely from childhood to adulthood and commonly leading to ESRD in the third and fourth decade of life. Thus, mutations in INF2 are more common, although still minor, monogenic cause of familial FSGS when compared to other known autosomal dominant genes associated with FSGS.
PMCID: PMC3647680  PMID: 23014460
INF2; FSGS; nephrotic syndrome; mutations; familial FSGS; sporadic cases
20.  Trans-Ancestral Studies Fine Map the SLE-Susceptibility Locus TNFSF4 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(7):e1003554.
We previously established an 80 kb haplotype upstream of TNFSF4 as a susceptibility locus in the autoimmune disease SLE. SLE-associated alleles at this locus are associated with inflammatory disorders, including atherosclerosis and ischaemic stroke. In Europeans, the TNFSF4 causal variants have remained elusive due to strong linkage disequilibrium exhibited by alleles spanning the region. Using a trans-ancestral approach to fine-map the locus, utilising 17,900 SLE and control subjects including Amerindian/Hispanics (1348 cases, 717 controls), African-Americans (AA) (1529, 2048) and better powered cohorts of Europeans and East Asians, we find strong association of risk alleles in all ethnicities; the AA association replicates in African-American Gullah (152,122). The best evidence of association comes from two adjacent markers: rs2205960-T (P = 1.71×10−34, OR = 1.43[1.26–1.60]) and rs1234317-T (P = 1.16×10−28, OR = 1.38[1.24–1.54]). Inference of fine-scale recombination rates for all populations tested finds the 80 kb risk and non-risk haplotypes in all except African-Americans. In this population the decay of recombination equates to an 11 kb risk haplotype, anchored in the 5′ region proximal to TNFSF4 and tagged by rs2205960-T after 1000 Genomes phase 1 (v3) imputation. Conditional regression analyses delineate the 5′ risk signal to rs2205960-T and the independent non-risk signal to rs1234314-C. Our case-only and SLE-control cohorts demonstrate robust association of rs2205960-T with autoantibody production. The rs2205960-T is predicted to form part of a decameric motif which binds NF-κBp65 with increased affinity compared to rs2205960-G. ChIP-seq data also indicate NF-κB interaction with the DNA sequence at this position in LCL cells. Our research suggests association of rs2205960-T with SLE across multiple groups and an independent non-risk signal at rs1234314-C. rs2205960-T is associated with autoantibody production and lymphopenia. Our data confirm a global signal at TNFSF4 and a role for the expressed product at multiple stages of lymphocyte dysregulation during SLE pathogenesis. We confirm the validity of trans-ancestral mapping in a complex trait.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/lupus) is a complex disease in which the body's immune cells cause inflammation in one or more systems to cause the associated morbidity. Hormones, the environment and genes are all causal contributors to SLE and over the past several years the genetic component of SLE has been firmly established. Several genes which are regulators of the immune system are associated with disease risk. We have established one of these, the tumour-necrosis family superfamily member 4 (TNFSF4) gene, as a lupus susceptibility gene in Northern Europeans. A major obstacle in pinpointing the marker(s) at TNFSF4 which best explain the risk of SLE has been the strong correlation (linkage disequilibrium, LD) between adjacent markers across the TNFSF4 region in this population. To address this, we have typed polymorphisms in several populations in addition to the European groups. The mixed ancestry of these populations gives a different LD pattern than that found in Europeans, presenting a method of pinpointing the section of the TNFSF4 region which results in SLE susceptibility. The Non-European populations have allowed identification of a polymorphism likely to regulate expression of TNFSF4 to increase susceptibility to SLE.
PMCID: PMC3715547  PMID: 23874208
21.  C868T Single Nucleotide Polymorphism and HIV Type 1 Disease Progression Among Postpartum Women in Kenya 
The C868T single nucleotide polymorphism in the CD4 receptor encodes an amino acid substitution of tryptophan for arginine in the third domain. Previous studies suggest that C868T increases the risk of HIV-1 acquisition; however, the influence of this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) on disease progression has not been established. The presence of the C868T polymorphism was not statistically significantly associated with HIV-1 disease progression outcomes in a cohort of postpartum Kenyan women.
PMCID: PMC3358105  PMID: 21902583
22.  Evaluation of TRAF6 in a Large Multi-Ancestral Lupus Cohort 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(6):1960-1969.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease with significant immune system aberrations resulting from complex heritable genetics as well as environmental factors. TRAF6 is a candidate gene for SLE, which has a major role in several signaling pathways that are important for immunity and organ development.
Fifteen single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), across TRAF6 were evaluated in 7,490 SLE and 6,780 control subjects from different ancestries. Population-based case-control association analyses and meta-analyses were performed. P values, false discovery rate q values, and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Evidence of associations in multiple SNPs was detected. The best overall p values were obtained for SNPs rs5030437 and rs4755453 (p=7.85×10−5 and p=4.73×10−5, respectively) without significant heterogeneity among populations (p=0.67 and p=0.50 in Q-statistic). In addition, rs540386 previously reported to be associated with RA was found to be in LD with these two SNPs (r2= 0.95) and demonstrated evidence of association with SLE in the same direction (meta-analysis p=9.15×10−4, OR=0.89, 95%CI=0.83–0.95). Thrombocytopenia improved the overall results in different populations (meta-analysis p=1.99×10−6, OR=0.57, 95%CI=0.45–0.72, for rs5030470). Finally evidence of family based association in 34 African-American pedigrees with the presence of thrombocytopenia were detected in one available SNP rs5030437 with Z score magnitude of 2.28 (p=0.02) under a dominant model.
Our data indicate the presence of association of TRAF6 with SLE in agreement with the previous report of association with RA. These data provide further support for the involvement of TRAF6 in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3380425  PMID: 22231568
TRAF6; polymorphism; systemic lupus erythematosus
23.  Analysis of autosomal genes reveals gene–sex interactions and higher total genetic risk in men with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(5):694-699.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a sexually dimorphic autoimmune disease which is more common in women, but affected men often experience a more severe disease. The genetic basis of sexual dimorphism in SLE is not clearly defined. A study was undertaken to examine sex-specific genetic effects among SLE susceptibility loci.
A total of 18 autosomal genetic susceptibility loci for SLE were genotyped in a large set of patients with SLE and controls of European descent, consisting of 5932 female and 1495 male samples. Sex-specific genetic association analyses were performed. The sex–gene interaction was further validated using parametric and nonparametric methods. Aggregate differences in sex-specific genetic risk were examined by calculating a cumulative genetic risk score for SLE in each individual and comparing the average genetic risk between male and female patients.
A significantly higher cumulative genetic risk for SLE was observed in men than in women. (P = 4.52×10−8) A significant sex–gene interaction was seen primarily in the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) region but also in IRF5, whereby men with SLE possess a significantly higher frequency of risk alleles than women. The genetic effect observed in KIAA1542 is specific to women with SLE and does not seem to have a role in men.
The data indicate that men require a higher cumulative genetic load than women to develop SLE. These observations suggest that sex bias in autoimmunity could be influenced by autosomal genetic susceptibility loci.
PMCID: PMC3324666  PMID: 22110124
24.  Association of Discoid Lupus with Clinical Manifestations and Damage Accrual in PROFILE: A Multiethnic Lupus Cohort 
Arthritis care & research  2012;64(5):704-712.
To determine the clinical manifestations and disease damage associated with discoid rash in a large multiethnic systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) cohort.
SLE patients (per ACR criteria), age ≥ 16 years, disease duration ≤ 10 years at enrollment, and defined ethnicity (African American, Hispanic or Caucasian), from a longitudinal cohort were studied. Socioeconomic-demographic features, clinical manifestations and disease damage [as per the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Damage Index (SDI)] were determined. The association of DLE with clinical manifestations and disease damage was examined using multivariable logistic regression.
A total of 2,228 SLE patients were studied. The mean (standard deviation, SD) age at diagnosis was 34.3 (12.8) years and the mean (SD) disease duration was 7.9 (6.0) years; 91.8% were women. Discoid lupus was observed in 393 (17.6%) of patients with SLE. In the multivariable analysis, patients with discoid lupus were more likely to be smokers and of African-American ethnicity, and to have malar rash, photosensitivity, oral ulcers, leukopenia and vasculitis. DLE patients were less likely to be of Hispanic (from Texas) ethnicity, and to have arthritis, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and antinuclear, anti-dsDNA and anti-phospholipid antibodies. Patients with DLE had more damage accrual, particularly chronic seizures, scarring alopecia, scarring of the skin, and skin ulcers.
In this cohort of SLE patients, discoid lupus was associated with several clinical features including serious manifestations such as vasculitis and chronic seizures.
PMCID: PMC3559016  PMID: 22190480
discoid rash; systemic lupus erythematosus; disease damage
25.  Phylogenetic Analysis Reveals a Cryptic Species Blastomyces gilchristii, sp. nov. within the Human Pathogenic Fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59237.
Analysis of the population genetic structure of microbial species is of fundamental importance to many scientific disciplines because it can identify cryptic species, reveal reproductive mode, and elucidate processes that contribute to pathogen evolution. Here, we examined the population genetic structure and geographic differentiation of the sexual, dimorphic fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis, the causative agent of blastomycosis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Criteria for Genealogical Concordance Phylogenetic Species Recognition (GCPSR) applied to seven nuclear loci (arf6, chs2, drk1, fads, pyrF, tub1, and its-2) from 78 clinical and environmental isolates identified two previously unrecognized phylogenetic species. Four of seven single gene phylogenies examined (chs2, drk1, pyrF, and its-2) supported the separation of Phylogenetic Species 1 (PS1) and Phylogenetic Species 2 (PS2) which were also well differentiated in the concatenated chs2-drk1-fads-pyrF-tub1-arf6-its2 genealogy with all isolates falling into one of two evolutionarily independent lineages. Phylogenetic species were genetically distinct with interspecific divergence 4-fold greater than intraspecific divergence and a high Fst value (0.772, P<0.001) indicative of restricted gene flow between PS1 and PS2. Whereas panmixia expected of a single freely recombining population was not observed, recombination was detected when PS1 and PS2 were assessed separately, suggesting reproductive isolation. Random mating among PS1 isolates, which were distributed across North America, was only detected after partitioning isolates into six geographic regions. The PS2 population, found predominantly in the hyper-endemic regions of northwestern Ontario, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, contained a substantial clonal component with random mating detected only among unique genotypes in the population.
These analyses provide evidence for a genetically divergent clade within Blastomyces dermatitidis, which we use to describe a novel species, Blastomyces gilchristii sp. nov. In addition, we discuss the value of population genetic and phylogenetic analyses as a foundation for disease surveillance, understanding pathogen evolution, and discerning phenotypic differences between phylogenetic species.
PMCID: PMC3606480  PMID: 23533607

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