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1.  Smoking Functions as a Negative Regulator of IGF1 and Impairs Adipokine Network in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Mediators of Inflammation  2016;2016:3082820.
Objectives. Smoking is pathogenic for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) being tightly connected to the genetic and serological risk factors for this disease. This study aims to understand connections between cigarette smoking and serum levels of IGF1 and adipokines in RA. Methods. Serum levels of IGF1 and adipokines leptin, adiponectin, resistin, and visfatin were measured in two independent cohorts of RA patients from Gothenburg (n = 350) and Leiden (n = 193). An association of these parameters with smoking was tested in a direct comparison and proved by bivariate correlation analysis. The obtained associations were further tested in multivariate regression models where the confounders (age, gender, disease duration, and BMI) were controlled. Results. The smokers had significantly lower serum levels of IGF1, adiponectin, and leptin compared to never smokers. In regression analysis, smoking and low leptin, but not adiponectin, were associated and predicted low IGF1. Additionally, high disease activity and high BMI increased the probability of low leptin. Conclusions. The study indicates cigarette smoking as an important cause of a relative IGF1 and leptin deficiency in RA patients. This novel association between smoking and hypoleptinemia may be of importance for long-term prognosis of RA and for prediction of comorbidities.
PMCID: PMC4794568  PMID: 27041823
2.  Survivin co-ordinates formation of follicular T-cells acting in synergy with Bcl-6 
Oncotarget  2015;6(24):20043-20057.
Follicular T helper (Tfh) cells are recognized by the expression of CXCR5 and the transcriptional regulator Bcl-6. Tfh cells control B cell maturation and antibody production, and if deregulated, may lead to autoimmunity. Here, we study the role of the proto-oncogene survivin in the formation of Tfh cells. We show that blood Tfh cells of patients with the autoimmune condition rheumatoid arthritis, have intracellular expression of survivin. Survivin was co-localized with Bcl-6 in the nuclei of CXCR5+CD4 lymphocytes and was immunoprecipitated with the Bcl-6 responsive element of the target genes. Inhibition of survivin in arthritic mice led to the reduction of CXCR5+ Tfh cells and to low production of autoantibodies. Exposure to survivin activated STAT3 and induced enrichment of PD-1+Bcl-6+ subset within Tfh cells. Collectively, our study demonstrates that survivin belongs to the Tfh cell phenotype and ensures their optimal function by regulating transcriptional activity of Bcl-6.
PMCID: PMC4652986  PMID: 26343374
Immune response; Immunity; Immunology and Microbiology Section; survivin; Bcl6; T-cells; autoimmunity; arthritis
3.  Smoking is Associated with Reduced Leptin and Neuropeptide Y Levels and Higher Pain Experience in Patients with Fibromyalgia 
Mediators of Inflammation  2014;2014:627041.
Smoking deregulates neuroendocrine responses to pain supporting production of neuropeptide Y (NpY) by direct stimulation of nicotinic receptors or by inhibiting adipokine leptin. Present study addressed the effect of cigarette smoking on adipokines and pain parameters, in 62 women with fibromyalgia (FM) pain syndrome with unknown etiology. Pain was characterized by a visual analogue scale, tender point (TP) counts, pressure pain threshold, and neuroendocrine markers NpY and substance P (sP). Levels of IGF-1, leptin, resistin, visfatin, and adiponectin were measured in blood and cerebrospinal fluid. Current smokers (n = 18) had lower levels of leptin compared to ex-smokers (n = 25, P = 0.002), while the expected NpY increase was absent in FM patients. In smokers, this was transcribed in higher VAS-pain (P = 0.04) and TP count (P = 0.03), lower pain threshold (P = 0.01), since NpY levels were directly related to the pain threshold (rho = 0.414) and inversely related to TP counts (rho = −0.375). This study shows that patients with FM have no increase of NpY levels in response to smoking despite the low levels of leptin. Deregulation of the balance between leptin and neuropeptide Y may be one of the essential mechanisms of chronic pain in FM.
PMCID: PMC4150510  PMID: 25197167
4.  Pathogenic Transdifferentiation of Th17 Cells Contribute to Perpetuation of Rheumatoid Arthritis during Anti-TNF Treatment 
Molecular Medicine  2015;21(1):436-543.
T-helper cells producing interleukin (IL)-17A and IL-17F cytokines (Th17 cells) are considered the source of autoimmunity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In this study, we characterized specific pathogenic features of Th17 cells in RA. By using nano-string technology, we analyzed transcription of 419 genes in the peripheral blood CCR6+CXCR3− CD4+ cells of 14 RA patients and 6 healthy controls and identified 109 genes discriminating Th17 cells of RA patients from the controls. Th17 cells of RA patients had an aggressive pathogenic profile and in addition to signature cytokines IL-17, IL-23 and IL-21, and transcriptional regulators RAR-related orphan receptor gamma of T cells (RORγt) and Janus kinase 2 (JAK2), they produced high levels of IL-23R, C-C chemokine ligand type 20 (CCL20), granulocyte-monocyte colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF ) and transcription factor Tbet required for synovial homing. We showed that Th17 cells are enriched with Helios-producing Foxp3- and IL2RA-deficient cells, indicating altered regulatory profile. The follicular T-helper (Tfh) cells presented a functional profile of adaptor molecules, transcriptional regulator Bcl-6 and B-cell activating cytokines IL-21, IL-31 and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF ). We observed that anti–tumor necrosis factor (TNF) treatment had a limited effect on the transcription signature of Th17 cells. Patients in remission retained the machinery of receptors (IL-23R and IL-1R1), proinflammatory cytokines (IL-17F, IL-23, IL-21 and TNF ) and adaptor molecules (C-X-C chemokine receptor 5 [CXCR5] and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 [CTLA-4]), essential for efficient transdifferentiation and accumulation of Th17 cells. This study convincingly shows that the peripheral blood CCR6+CXCR3− CD4+ cells of RA patients harbor pathogenic subsets of Th17 and Tfh cells, which may transdifferentiate from Tregs and contribute to perpetuation of the disease.
PMCID: PMC4607618  PMID: 26062018
5.  Serum survivin predicts responses to treatment in active rheumatoid arthritis: a post hoc analysis from the SWEFOT trial 
BMC Medicine  2015;13:247.
The identification of biomarkers that predict optimal and individual choices of treatment for patients with rheumatoid arthritis gains increasing attention. The purpose of this study was to investigate if the proto-oncogene survivin might aid in treatment decisions in early rheumatoid arthritis.
Serum survivin levels were measured in 302 patients who completed the Swedish pharmacotherapy (SWEFOT) trial at baseline, 3, 12, and 24 months. Survivin levels > 0.45 ng/mL were considered positive. Based on the survivin status, core set outcomes measuring disease activity, functional disability, as well as global health and pain were evaluated after methotrexate (MTX) monotherapy at 3 months, and at 12 and 24 months of follow-up. Treatment of non-responders was randomly intensified with either a combination of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (triple therapy: MTX, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine) or by adding antibodies against tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF).
Antirheumatic treatment resulted in an overall decrease of serum survivin levels. Survivin-positive patients at baseline who initially responded to MTX had a higher risk of disease re-activation (OR 3.21 (95 % CI 1.12–9.24), P = 0.032) and failed to improve in their functional disability (P = 0.018) if having continued on MTX monotherapy compared to survivin-negative patients. Ever-smokers who were survivin-positive were less likely to respond to MTX than those who were survivin-negative (OR 1.91 (1.01–3.62), P = 0.045). In survivin-positive patients, triple therapy led to better improvements in disease activity than did MTX + anti-TNF. At 24 months, survivin-positive patients randomized to anti-TNF had a higher risk of active disease than those randomized to triple therapy (OR 3.15 (1.09–9.10), P = 0.037).
We demonstrate for the first time that survivin is a valuable serologic marker that can distinguish drug-specific clinical responses in early rheumatoid arthritis through the pragmatic clinical setting of the care-based SWEFOT trial. Although treatment response cannot solely be attributable to survivin status, per protocol sensitivity analyses confirmed the superior effect of triple therapy on survivin-positive patients.
Survivin-positive patients have poor outcomes if treated with MTX monotherapy. A decrease of survivin levels during treatment is associated with better clinical responses. For survivin-positive patients who fail MTX, triple therapy is associated with better outcomes than anti-TNF therapy.
Trial registration
WHO database at the Karolinska University Hospital: CT20080004; NCT00764725, registered 1 October 2008.
PMCID: PMC4589197  PMID: 26420684
Rheumatoid arthritis; Biomarkers; Survivin; Methotrexate; Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs; Anti-TNF; Disease activity; Functional disability
6.  Suppressed diversity of survivin splicing in active rheumatoid arthritis 
Alternative splicing distinguishes normal and pathologic cells. High levels of oncoprotein survivin recognise patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here, we assess clinical relevance of alternative splicing of survivin in leukocytes of peripheral blood (PBMC) and bone marrow (BM) in RA patients.
Transcription of survivin wild-type (survivin-WT), survivin-2B and survivin-ΔEx3 was measured in 67 randomly selected RA patients and in 23 patients before and after B cell depletion with rituximab. Analysis was done in relation to disease activity, anti-rheumatic treatment and serum levels of rheumatoid factor (RF) and survivin.
Survivin-WT was the dominant splice variant equally expressed in T and B cells, while survivin-2B and survivin-ΔEx3 were higher in B cells. High disease activity (DAS28>5.1) was associated with an excess of survivin-WT and low ratios between survivin-2B/WT (p=0.035) and survivin-ΔEx3/WT in PBMC. Depletion of B cells by rituximab caused a decrease in survivin-WT (p=0.005) in PBMC, increasing the ratio between survivin-2B/WT (p=0.009) and survivin-ΔEx3/WT (p=0.001) in BM. This increase in survivin-2B/WT was associated with reduction in CD19+ BM cells (r=0.929, p=0.007), RF (IgM, r=0.857, p=0.024; IgA, r=0.739, p=0.021), and DAS28 (0.636, p=0.054). The increase in survivin-ΔEx3 in BM was associated with a reduction of CD19+ BM cells (r=0.714, p=0.058) and DAS28 (r=0.648, p=0.049), while survivin-ΔEx3/WT was associated with RF (IgG, r=0.882, p=0.016).
This study demonstrates that the suppressed diversity of survivin splicing in leukocytes may attribute to adverse self-recognition in RA. Depletion of autoantibody producing B cells improves the balance of survivin splicing.
PMCID: PMC4702383  PMID: 26160473
7.  Recognizing Rheumatoid Arthritis: Oncoprotein Survivin Opens New Possibilities 
Medicine  2015;94(4):e468.
Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text
Survivin is a biomarker of cancer known for its anti-apoptotic and cell-cycle regulating properties. In the context of non-cancer pathology, high levels of survivin may be measured in blood and synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and associate with early joint damage and poor therapy response.
The aim of the study was to investigate the value of survivin measurements in blood for diagnosis of RA in the frame of the Malaysian epidemiological investigation of rheumatoid arthritis (MyEIRA) study. The study enrolled RA patients from eight rheumatology centres in Peninsular Malaysia. The healthy controls matched by age, gender and ethnicity were recruited on the community basis from the residential area of the patients. Levels of survivin were measured in blood of RA patients (n = 1233) and controls (n = 1566) by an enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay (ELISA). The risk for RA was calculated as odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals in the individuals with high levels of survivin. The risk was calculated in relation to antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides (ACPA), detected by ELISA and HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) alleles, identified by the polymerase chain reaction using sequence specific oligonucleotide method.
High levels of survivin were detected in 625 of 1233 (50.7%) RA cases and in 85 of 1566 (5.4%) controls, indicating its high specificity for RA. Survivin was association with an increase in RA risk in the patients having neither SE-alleles nor ACPA (OR = 5.40, 95% CI 3.81–7.66). For the patients combining survivin, SE, and ACPA, the estimated risk for RA was 16-folds higher compared to the survivin negative patients with SE and ACPA(OR = 16.21, 95% CI 5.70–46.18).
To conclude, detection of survivin in blood provides a simple test to improve diagnostic and to increase predictability for RA.
PMCID: PMC4602940  PMID: 25634192
8.  Smoking in combination with antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptides is associated with persistently high levels of survivin in early rheumatoid arthritis: a prospective cohort study 
High levels of the oncoprotein survivin may be detected in the majority of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Survivin is a sensitive predictor of joint damage and persistent disease activity. Survivin-positive patients are often poor responders to antirheumatic and biological treatment. The aim of this study was to investigate the reproducibility of survivin status and its significance for clinical and immunological assessment of RA patients.
Survivin levels were measured in 339 patients from the Better Anti-Rheumatic FarmacOTherapy (BARFOT) cohort of early RA at baseline and after 24 months. The association of survivin status with joint damage (total Sharp-van der Heijde score), disease activity (Disease Activity Score based on evaluation of 28 joints (DAS28)), functional disability (Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ)), and pain perception (Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)) was calculated in the groups positive and negative for survivin on both occasions, and for the positive-negative and negative-positive groups.
In 268 patients (79%) the levels of survivin were similar at baseline and after 24 months, 15% converted from survivin-positive to survivin-negative, and 5% from survivin-negative to survivin-positive. A combination of smoking and antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides (aCCP) predicted persistently (baseline and 24 months) high levels of survivin (odds ratio 4.36 (95% CI: 2.64 to 7.20), P < 0.001), positive predictive value 0.66 and specificity 0.83). The independent nature of survivin and aCCP was demonstrated by statistical and laboratory analysis. Survivin positivity on both test occasions was associated with the progression of joint damage, significantly higher DAS28 and lower rate of remission at 24 and 60 months compared to negative-negative patients. Survivin status was less associated with changes in HAQ and VAS.
Survivin is a relevant and reproducible marker of severe RA. Persistently high levels of survivin were associated with smoking and the presence of aCCP and/or RF antibodies and predicted persistent disease activity and joint damage.
PMCID: PMC3978453  PMID: 24428870
9.  Profile of Cerebrospinal microRNAs in Fibromyalgia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78762.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is characterized by chronic pain and reduced pain threshold. The pathophysiology involves disturbed neuroendocrine function, including impaired function of the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 axis. Recently, microRNAs have been shown to be important regulatory factors in a number of diseases.
The aim of this study was to try to identify cerebrospinal microRNAs with expression specific for FM and to determine their correlation to pain and fatigue.
The genome-wide profile of microRNAs in cerebrospinal fluid was assessed in ten women with FM and eight healthy controls using real-time quantitative PCR. Pain thresholds were examined by algometry. Levels of pain (FIQ pain) were rated on a 0-100 mm scale (fibromyalgia impact questionnaire, FIQ). Levels of fatigue (FIQ fatigue) were rated on a 0-100 mm scale using FIQ and by multidimensional fatigue inventory (MFI-20) general fatigue (MFIGF).
Expression levels of nine microRNAs were significantly lower in patients with FM patients compared to healthy controls. The microRNAs identified were miR-21-5p, miR-145-5p, miR-29a-3p, miR-99b-5p, miR-125b-5p, miR-23a-3p, 23b-3p, miR-195-5p, miR-223-3p.
The identified microRNAs with significantly lower expression in FM were assessed with regard to pain and fatigue. miR-145-5p correlated positively with FIQ pain (r=0.709, p=0.022, n=10) and with FIQ fatigue (r=0.687, p=0.028, n=10).
To our knowledge, this is the first study to show a disease-specific pattern of cerebrospinal microRNAs in FM.
We have identified nine microRNAs in cerebrospinal fluid that differed between FM patients and healthy controls. One of the identified microRNAs, miR-145 was associated with the cardinal symptoms of FM, pain and fatigue.
PMCID: PMC3808359  PMID: 24205312
10.  Exercise and obesity in fibromyalgia: beneficial roles of IGF-1 and resistin? 
Severe fatigue is a major health problem in fibromyalgia (FM). Obesity is common in FM, but the influence of adipokines and growth factors is not clear. The aim was to examine effects of exercise on fatigue, in lean, overweight and obese FM patients.
In a longitudinal study, 48 FM patients (median 52 years) exercised for 15 weeks. Nine patients were lean (body mass index, BMI 18.5 to 24.9), 26 overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) and 13 obese. Fatigue was rated on a 0 to 100 mm scale (fibromyalgia impact questionnaire [FIQ] fatigue) and multidimensional fatigue inventory (MFI-20) general fatigue (MFIGF). Higher levels in FIQ fatigue and MFIGF indicate greater degree of fatigue. Free and total IGF-1, neuropeptides, adipokines were determined in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
Baseline FIQ fatigue correlated negatively with serum leptin (r = -0.345; P = 0.016) and nerve growth factor (NGF; r = -0.412; P = 0.037). In lean patients, baseline MFIGF associated negatively with serum resistin (r = -0.694; P = 0.038). FIQ Fatigue associated negatively with CSF resistin (r = -0.365; P = 0.073). Similarly, FIQ fatigue (r = -0.444; P = 0.026) and MFIGF correlated negatively with CSF adiponectin (r = -0.508; P = 0.01). In lean patients, FIQ fatigue (P = 0.046) decreased after 15 weeks. After 30 weeks, MFIGF decreased significantly in lean (MFIGF: P = 0.017), overweight (MFIGF: P = 0.001), and obese patients (MFIGF: P = 0.016). After 15 weeks, total IGF-1 increased in lean (P = 0.043) patients. ∆Total IGF-1 differed significantly between lean and obese patients (P = 0.010). ∆Total IGF-1 related negatively with ∆MFIGF after 15 weeks (r = -0.329; P = 0.050). After 30 weeks, ∆FIQ fatigue negatively correlated with ∆NGF (r = -0.463; P = 0.034) and positively with ∆neuropeptide Y (NPY) (r = 0.469; P = 0.032). Resistin increased after 30 weeks (P = 0.034). ∆MFIGF correlated negatively with ∆resistin (r = -0.346; P = 0.031), being strongest in obese patients (r = -0.815; P = 0.007). In obese patients, ∆FIQ fatigue after 30 weeks correlated negatively with ∆free IGF-1 (r = -0.711; P = 0.032).
Exercise reduced fatigue in all FM patients, this effect was achieved earlier in lean patients. Baseline levels of resistin in both serum and CSF associated negatively with fatigue. Resistin was increased after the exercise period which correlated with decreased fatigue. Changes in IGF-1 indicate similar long-term effects in obese patients. This study shows reduced fatigue after moderate exercise in FM and indicates the involvement of IGF-1 and resistin in these beneficial effects.
Trial registration NCT00643006
PMCID: PMC3672794  PMID: 23446104
11.  Fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3 Ligand Controls Formation of Regulatory T Cells in Autoimmune Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54884.
Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) is known as the primary differentiation and survival factor for dendritic cells (DCs). Furthermore, Flt3L is involved in the homeostatic feedback loop between DCs and regulatory T cell (Treg). We have previously shown that Flt3L accumulates in the synovial fluid in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and that local exposure to Flt3L aggravates arthritis in mice, suggesting a possible involvement in RA pathogenesis. In the present study we investigated the role of Flt3L on DC populations, Tregs as well as inflammatory responses in experimental antigen-induced arthritis. Arthritis was induced in mBSA-immunized mice by local knee injection of mBSA and Flt3L was provided by daily intraperitoneal injections. Flow cytometry analysis of spleen and lymph nodes revealed an increased formation of DCs and subsequently Tregs in mice treated with Flt3L. Flt3L-treatment was also associated with a reduced production of mBSA specific antibodies and reduced levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-α. Morphological evaluation of mBSA injected joints revealed reduced joint destruction in Flt3L treated mice. The role of DCs in mBSA arthritis was further challenged in an adoptive transfer experiment. Transfer of DCs in combination with T-cells from mBSA immunized mice, predisposed naïve recipients for arthritis and production of mBSA specific antibodies. We provide experimental evidence that Flt3L has potent immunoregulatory properties. Flt3L facilitates formation of Treg cells and by this mechanism reduces severity of antigen-induced arthritis in mice. We suggest that high systemic levels of Flt3L have potential to modulate autoreactivity and autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3549988  PMID: 23349985
12.  Activation of Fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3 Signaling Enhances Survivin Expression in a Mouse Model of Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47668.
Survivin is known as an inhibitor of apoptosis and a positive regulator of cell division. We have recently identified survivin as a predictor of joint destruction in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Flt3 ligand (Flt3L) is expressed in the inflamed joints and has adjuvant properties in arthritis. Studies on 90 RA patients (median age 60.5 years [range, 24–87], disease duration 10.5 years [range, 0–35]) show a strong positive association between the levels of survivin and Flt3L in blood. Here, we present experimental evidence connecting survivin and Flt3L signaling. Treatment of BALB/c mice with Flt3L led to an increase of survivin in the bone marrow and in splenic dendritic cells. Flt3L changed the profile of survivin splice variants, increasing transcription of the short survivin40 in the bone marrow. Treatment with an Flt3 inhibitor reduced total survivin expression in bone marrow and in the dendritic cell population in spleen. Inhibition of survivin transcription in mice, by shRNA lentiviral constructs, reduced the gene expression of Flt3L. We conclude that expression of survivin is a downstream event of Flt3 signaling, which serves as an essential mechanism supporting survival of leukocytes during their differentiation, and maturation of dendritic cells, in RA.
PMCID: PMC3474718  PMID: 23082191
13.  Factor H autoantibodies and deletion of Complement Factor H-Related protein-1 in rheumatic diseases in comparison to atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(4):R185.
Complement activation is involved in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS). Autoantibodies to complement inhibitor factor H (FH), particularly in association with deletions of the gene coding for FH-related protein 1 (CFHR1), are associated with aHUS.
Autoantibodies against FH, factor I (FI) and C4b-binding protein (C4BP) were measured by ELISA, while CFHR1 homozygous deletion was determined with Western blotting of sera. Epitopes for FH autoantibodies were mapped using recombinant fragments of FH.
FH autoantibodies were detected in SLE (6.7%, n = 60, RA patients (16.5%, n = 97 in the Swedish cohort and 9.2%, n = 217 in the Dutch cohort) and thrombosis patients positive for the lupus anticoagulants (LA+) test (9.4%, n = 64) compared with aHUS patients (11.7%, n = 103). In the control groups (n = 354), an average of 4% of individuals were positive for FH autoantibodies. The frequencies observed in both RA cohorts and LA+ patients were statistically significantly higher than in controls. We also found that an average of 15.2% of the FH-autoantibody positive individuals in all studied disease groups had homozygous deficiency of CFHR1 compared with 3.8% of the FH autoantibody negative patients. The levels of FH autoantibodies varied in individual patients over time. FH autoantibodies found in LA+, SLE and RA were directed against several epitopes across FH in contrast to those found in aHUS, which bound mainly to the C-terminus. Autoantibodies against FI and C4BP were detected in some patients and controls but they were not associated with any of the diseases analyzed in this study.
Autoantibodies against FH are not specific for aHUS but are present at a significant frequency in rheumatic diseases where they could be involved in pathophysiological mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3580581  PMID: 22894814
14.  Changes in pain and insulin-like growth factor 1 in fibromyalgia during exercise: the involvement of cerebrospinal inflammatory factors and neuropeptides 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(4):R162.
Fibromyalgia (FM) is characterized by chronic pain. Impaired growth hormone responses and reduced serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) are common in FM. The aim was to examine changes in serum IGF-1, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), neuropeptides, and cytokines during aerobic exercise in FM patients.
In total, 49 patients (median age, 52 years) with FM were included in the study. They were randomized to either the moderate- to high-intensity Nordic Walking (NW) program (n = 26) or the supervised low-intensity walking (LIW) program (n = 23). Patients participated in blood tests before and after 15 weeks of aerobic exercise. Changes in serum levels of free IGF-1, pain rating on a 0- to 100-mm scale, pain threshold, and 6-minute walk test (6MWT) were examined. CSF, neuropeptides, matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3), and inflammatory cytokines were determined. Nonparametric tests were used for group comparisons and correlation analyses.
Serum free IGF-1 levels did not change during 15 weeks of exercise between the two groups, although the 6MWT significantly improved in the NW group (p = 0.033) when compared with LIW. Pain did not significantly change in any of the groups, but tended to decrease (p = 0.052) over time in the total group. A tendency toward a correlation was noted between baseline IGF-1 and a decrease of pain in response to exercise (r = 0.278; p = 0.059). When adjusted for age, this tendency disappeared. The change in serum free IGF-1 correlated positively with an alteration in CSF substance P (SP) levels (rs = 0.495; p = 0.072), neuropeptide Y (NPY) (rs = 0.802; p = 0.001), and pain threshold (rs = 0.276; p = 0.058). Differing CSF SP levels correlated positively to a change in pain threshold (rs = 0.600; p = 0.023), whereas the shift in CSF MMP-3 inversely correlated with an altered pain threshold (rs = -0.569; p = 0.034).
The baseline level of serum free IGF-1 did not change during high or low intensity of aerobic exercise. Changes in IGF-1 correlated positively with a variation in CSF SP, NPY, and pain threshold. These data indicate a beneficial role of IGF-1 during exercise in FM.
Trial registration: NCT00643006.
PMCID: PMC3580554  PMID: 22776095
15.  The tumour-associated glycoprotein podoplanin is expressed in fibroblast-like synoviocytes of the hyperplastic synovial lining layer in rheumatoid arthritis 
Activated fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) share many characteristics with tumour cells and are key mediators of synovial tissue transformation and joint destruction. The glycoprotein podoplanin is upregulated in the invasive front of several human cancers and has been associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition, increased cell migration and tissue invasion. The aim of this study was to investigate whether podoplanin is expressed in areas of synovial transformation in RA and especially in promigratory RA-FLS.
Podoplanin expression in human synovial tissue from 18 RA patients and nine osteoarthritis (OA) patients was assessed by immunohistochemistry and confirmed by Western blot analysis. The expression was related to markers of synoviocytes and myofibroblasts detected by using confocal immunofluoresence microscopy. Expression of podoplanin, with or without the addition of proinflammatory cytokines and growth factors, in primary human FLS was evaluated by using flow cytometry.
Podoplanin was highly expressed in cadherin-11-positive cells throughout the synovial lining layer in RA. The expression was most pronounced in areas with lining layer hyperplasia and high matrix metalloproteinase 9 expression, where it coincided with upregulation of α-smooth muscle actin (α-sma). The synovium in OA was predominantly podoplanin-negative. Podoplanin was expressed in 50% of cultured primary FLSs, and the expression was increased by interleukin 1β, tumour necrosis factor α and transforming growth factor β receptor 1.
Here we show that podoplanin is highly expressed in FLSs of the invading synovial tissue in RA. The concomitant upregulation of α-sma and podoplanin in a subpopulation of FLSs indicates a myofibroblast phenotype. Proinflammatory mediators increased the podoplanin expression in cultured RA-FLS. We conclude that podoplanin might be involved in the synovial tissue transformation and increased migratory potential of activated FLSs in RA.
PMCID: PMC3132020  PMID: 21385358
16.  Epstein–Barr virus in bone marrow of rheumatoid arthritis patients predicts response to rituximab treatment 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2010;49(10):1911-1919.
Objectives. Viruses may contribute to RA. This prompted us to monitor viral load and response to anti-CD20 therapy in RA patients.
Methods. Blood and bone marrow from 35 RA patients were analysed for CMV, EBV, HSV-1, HSV-2, parvovirus B19 and polyomavirus using real-time PCR before and 3 months after rituximab (RTX) treatment and related to the levels of autoantibodies and B-cell depletion. Clinical response to RTX was defined as decrease in the 28-joint disease activity score (DAS-28) >1.3 at 6 months.
Results. Before RTX treatment, EBV was identified in 15 out of 35 patients (EBV-positive group), of which 4 expressed parvovirus. Parvovirus was further detected in eight patients (parvo-positive group). Twelve patients were negative for the analysed viruses. Following RTX, EBV was cleared, whereas parvovirus was unaffected. Eighteen patients were responders, of which 12 were EBV positive. The decrease in the DAS-28 was significantly higher in EBV-positive group compared with parvo-positive group (P = 0.002) and virus-negative patients (P = 0.04). Most of EBV-negative patients that responded to RTX (75%) required retreatment within the following 11 months compared with only 8% of responding EBV-positive patients. A decrease of RF, Ig-producing cells and CD19+ B cells was observed following RTX but did not distinguish between viral infections. However, EBV-infected patients had significantly higher levels of Fas-expressing B cells at baseline as compared with EBV-negative groups.
Conclusions. EBV and parvovirus genomes are frequently found in bone marrow of RA patients. The presence of EBV genome was associated with a better clinical response to RTX. Thus, presence of EBV genome may predict clinical response to RTX.
PMCID: PMC2936947  PMID: 20547657
Rheumatoid arthritis; Biological therapy; B-cell depletion; Viral infection; Epstein–Barr virus
17.  Vaccination response to protein and carbohydrate antigens in patients with rheumatoid arthritis after rituximab treatment 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(3):R111.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is frequently complicated with infections. The aim of our study was to evaluate vaccination response in patients with RA after B-cell depletion by using rituximab.
Influenza (Afluria) and pneumococcal polysaccharides (Pneumo23) vaccines were given 6 months after rituximab (post-RTX group, n = 11) or 6 days before rituximab treatment (pre-RTX group; n = 8). RA patients never exposed to RTX composed the control group (n = 10). Vaccine-specific cellular responses were evaluated on day 6 after vaccination, and vaccine-specific humoral responses, on day 21.
On day 6 after vaccination, formation of influenza-specific B cells was lower in post-RTX group as compared with the pre-RTX group and controls (P = 0.04). Polysaccharide-specific B cells were found in 27% to 50%, being equally distributed between the groups. On day 21, the impairment of humoral responses was more pronounced with respect to influenza as compared with the pneumococcal vaccine and affected both IgG and light-chain production. Total absence of influenza-specific IgG production was observed in 55% of the post-RTX group.
RTX compromises cellular and humoral vaccine responses in RA patients. However, repeated RTX treatment or previous anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) treatment did not accentuate these defects.
PMCID: PMC2911904  PMID: 20529331
18.  Resistin competes with lipopolysaccharide for binding to toll-like receptor 4 
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are a family of cellular structures activated by recognition of pathogen associated molecular sequences. The activation of TLRs triggers a variety of intracellular mechanisms aiming to protect the host from the invading microorganisms. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is the main ligand for TLR4. Here we show that resistin, a cystein-rich protein believed to regulate carbohydrate metabolism, competes with LPS for binding to TLR4. Binding of recombinant resistin to human myeloid and epithelial cells was assessed by flow cytometry and its co-precipitation with TLR4 was demonstrated. Antibodies against TLR4 abolished resistin binding to human leucocytes and cytokine production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells in response to resistin stimulation. In contrast, isotype-matched murine IgG or TLR2 antibodies were unable to prevent binding of resistin to the cells. Similarly, TLR4-dependent pattern of resistin binding was observed in epithelial cell line HEK293 (human epithelial kidney cell), where TLR4 transfected, but not myeloid differentiation factor 2/CD14-transfected, TLR2 transfected or HEKnull cells, responded functionally to resistin stimulation. Intracellular signalling of resistin was assessed using inhibitors of transcription factors mitogen activated protein kinases, nuclear factor-κB, phosphoinositide 3-kinase and siRNA targeting TLR4 and human myeloid differentiation factor 88. Results demonstrate that TLR4 serves as a receptor for the pro-inflammatory effects of resistin in human cells. This may partly explain the multifunctional role of resistin in chronic inflammation, atherosclerosis and insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3829009  PMID: 19754671
toll-like receptor 4; resistin; inflammation; lipopolysaccharide
19.  Short- and long-term effects of anti-CD20 treatment on B cell ontogeny in bone marrow of patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R123.
In the present study we evaluated changes in the B cell phenotype in peripheral blood and bone marrow (BM) of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) following anti-CD20 treatment using rituximab.
Blood and BM samples were obtained from 37 patients with RA prior to rituximab treatment. Ten of these patients were resampled 1 month following rituximab, 14 patients after 3 months and the remaining 13 patients were included in the long-term follow up. B cell populations were characterized by CD27/IgD/CD38/CD24 expression.
One and three months following rituximab BM retained up to 30% of B cells while circulation was totally depleted of B cells. Analysis of the remaining BM B cells showed prevalence of immature and/or transitional B cells (CD38++CD24++) and CD27+IgD- memory cells, while IgD+ cells were completely depleted. A significant reduction of CD27+ cells in BM and in circulation was observed long after rituximab treatment (mean 22 months), while levels of naive B cells in BM and in circulation were increased. The levels of rheumatoid factor decline after rituximab treatment but returned to baseline levels at the time of retreatment.
Anti-CD20 treatment achieves a depletion of IgD+ B cells shortly after the treatment. At the long term follow up, a reduction of CD27+ B cells was observed in blood and BM. The prolonged inability to up-regulate CD27 may inhibit the renewal of memory B cells. This reduction of CD27+ B cells does not prevent autoantibody production suggesting that mechanisms regulating the formation of auto reactive clones are not disrupted by rituximab.
PMCID: PMC2745807  PMID: 19686595
20.  Tissue factor as a proinflammatory agent 
Arthritis Research  2002;4(3):190-195.
Tissue factor (TF) is a transmembrane glycoprotein and the main triggering element of blood coagulation. TF expression on monocytes and endothelial cells is induced by exposure to endotoxin, tumor necrosis factor, and IL-1 and is considered to appear in consequence of inflammation. In order to assess the proinflammatory capacity of TF itself, the recombinant extracellular domain of TF was injected intra-articularly into healthy mice. To characterize the role of immune cells in the TF-induced arthritis, mice deprived of lymphocytes, neutrophils and monocytes were used. Histomorphological analysis of the joints with respect to inflammatory cell infiltration, pannus formation and erosion formation revealed development of arthritis in 80% of animals injected with TF. In most of the cases synovial proliferation was accompanied by pannus formation and cartilage destruction. Inflammatory cell infiltrate consisted of CD4-Mac1+ macrophages. Depletion of monocytes was, however, not enough to abolish inflammation. Indeed, combined deficiency of monocytes and lymphocytes was required to prevent inflammation following the injection of TF. We observed that TF induced chemokine production (MIP-1α and RANTES), but did not induce a proliferative response nor cytokine release by mouse spleen cells. TF has strong inflammatogenic properties mediated predominantly by monocytes and their release of chemokines. Our study shows that TF can simultaneously trigger the immune and coagulation systems.
PMCID: PMC111021  PMID: 12010569
arthritis; inflammation; monocyte; tissue factor

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