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1.  Human Leukocyte Antigens and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Protective Role for the HLA-DR6 Alleles DRB1*13:02 and *14:03 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87792.
Many studies on associations between human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele frequencies and susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have been performed. However, few protective associations with HLA-DRB1 alleles have been reported. Here, we sought protective, as well as predispositional, alleles of HLA-DRB1 in Japanese SLE patients. An association study was conducted for HLA-DRB1 in Japanese SLE patients. Relative predispositional effects were analyzed by sequential elimination of carriers of each allele with the strongest association. We also explored the association of DRB1 alleles with SLE phenotypes including the presence of autoantibody and clinical manifestations. Significantly different carrier frequencies of certain DRB1 alleles were found to be associated with SLE as follows: increased DRB1*15:01 (P = 5.48×10−10, corrected P (Pc) = 1.59×10−8, odds ratio [OR] 2.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.69–2.79), decreased DRB1*13:02 (P = 7.17×10−5, Pc = 0.0020, OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.34–0.63) and decreased DRB1*14:03 (P = 0.0010, Pc = 0.0272, OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.18–0.63). Additionally, the “*15:01/*13:02 or *14:03” genotype tended to be negatively associated with SLE (P = 0.4209, OR 0.66), despite there being significant positive associations with *15:01 when present together with alleles other than *13:02 or *14:03 (P = 1.79×10−11, OR 2.39, 95% CI 1.84–3.10). This protective effect of *13:02 and *14:03 was also confirmed in SLE patients with different clinical phenotypes. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of a protective association between the carrier frequencies of HLA-DRB1*13:02 and *14:03 and SLE in the Japanese population.
PMCID: PMC3912000  PMID: 24498373
2.  Severity-based treatment for Japanese patients with MPO-ANCA-associated vasculitis: the JMAAV study 
Modern Rheumatology  2011;22(3):394-404.
We (JMAAV [Japanese patients with MPO-ANCA-associated vasculitis] Study Group) performed a prospective, open-label, multi-center trial to evaluate the usefulness of severity-based treatment in Japanese patients with myeloperoxidase-anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (MPO-ANCA)-associated vasculitis. Patients with MPO-ANCA-associated vasculitis received a severity-based regimen according to the appropriate protocol: low-dose corticosteroid and, if necessary, cyclophosphamide or azathioprine in patients with mild form; high-dose corticosteroid and cyclophosphamide in those with severe form; and the severe-form regimen plus plasmapheresis in those with the most severe form. We followed up the patients for 18 months. The primary end points were the induction of remission, death, and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Fifty-two patients were registered, and 48 patients were enrolled in this study (mild form, n = 23; severe form, n = 23; most severe form, n = 2). Among the 47 patients who received the predefined therapies, 42 achieved remission within 6 months, 5 died, and 1 developed ESRD. Disease flared up in 8 of the 42 patients with remission during the 18-month follow-up period. The JMAAV trial is the first prospective trial for MPO-ANCA-associated vasculitis to be performed in Japan. The remission and death rates were comparable to those in several previous clinical trials performed in western counties. The regimen employed in this trial was tailor-made based on patients’ disease severity and disease type, and it seems that standardization can be consistent with treatment choices made according to severity.
PMCID: PMC3375427  PMID: 21928092
Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody; Microscopic polyangiitis; Prophylaxis; Pulmonary-limited vasculitis; Severity-based treatment
3.  TLR7 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the 3' untranslated region and intron 2 independently contribute to systemic lupus erythematosus in Japanese women: a case-control association study 
The Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) gene, encoded on human chromosome Xp22.3, is crucial for type I interferon production. A recent multicenter study in East Asian populations, comprising Chinese, Korean and Japanese participants, identified an association of a TLR7 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) located in the 3' untranslated region (3' UTR), rs3853839, with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), especially in males, although some difference was observed among the tested populations. To test whether additional polymorphisms contribute to SLE in Japanese, we systematically analyzed the association of TLR7 with SLE in a Japanese female population.
A case-control association study was conducted on eight tag SNPs in the TLR7 region, including rs3853839, in 344 Japanese females with SLE and 274 healthy female controls.
In addition to rs3853839, two SNPs in intron 2, rs179019 and rs179010, which were in moderate linkage disequilibrium with each other (r2 = 0.53), showed an association with SLE (rs179019: P = 0.016, odds ratio (OR) 2.02, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.15 to 3.54; rs179010: P = 0.018, OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.80 (both under the recessive model)). Conditional logistic regression analysis revealed that the association of the intronic SNPs and the 3' UTR SNP remained significant after we adjusted them for each other. When only the patients and controls carrying the risk genotypes at the 3' UTR SNPpositionwere analyzed, the risk of SLE was significantly increased when the individuals also carried the risk genotypes at both of the intronic SNPs (P = 0.0043, OR 2.45, 95% CI 1.31 to 4.60). Furthermore, the haplotype containing the intronic risk alleles in addition to the 3' UTR risk allele was associated with SLE under the recessive model (P = 0.016, OR 2.37, 95% CI 1.17 to 4.80), but other haplotypes were not associated with SLE.
The TLR7 intronic SNPs rs179019 and rs179010 are associated with SLE independently of the 3' UTR SNP rs3853839 in Japanese women. Our findings support a role of TLR7 in predisposition for SLE in Asian populations.
PMCID: PMC3132023  PMID: 21396113
4.  Association of TNFAIP3 interacting protein 1, TNIP1 with systemic lupus erythematosus in a Japanese population: a case-control association study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R174.
TNFAIP3 interacting protein 1, TNIP1 (ABIN-1) is involved in inhibition of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation by interacting with TNF alpha-induced protein 3, A20 (TNFAIP3), an established susceptibility gene to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recent genome-wide association studies revealed association of TNIP1 with SLE in the Caucasian and Chinese populations. In this study, we investigated whether the association of TNIP1 with SLE was replicated in a Japanese population. In addition, association of TNIP1 with RA was also examined.
A case-control association study was conducted on the TNIP1 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs7708392 in 364 Japanese SLE patients, 553 RA patients and 513 healthy controls.
Association of TNIP1 rs7708392C was replicated in Japanese SLE (allele frequency in SLE: 76.5%, control: 69.9%, P = 0.0022, odds ratio [OR] 1.40, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.13-1.74). Notably, the risk allele frequency in the healthy controls was considerably greater in Japanese (69.9%) than in Caucasians (24.3%). A tendency of stronger association was observed in the SLE patients with renal disorder (P = 0.00065, OR 1.60 [95%CI 1.22-2.10]) than in all SLE patients (P = 0.0022, OR 1.40 [95%CI 1.13-1.74]). Significant association with RA was not observed, regardless of the carriage of human leukocyte antigen DR β1 (HLA-DRB1) shared epitope. Significant gene-gene interaction between TNIP1 and TNFAIP3 was detected neither in SLE nor RA.
Association of TNIP1 with SLE was confirmed in a Japanese population. TNIP1 is a shared SLE susceptibility gene in the Caucasian and Asian populations, but the genetic contribution appeared to be greater in the Japanese and Chinese populations because of the higher risk allele frequency. Taken together with the association of TNFAIP3, these observations underscore the crucial role of NF-κB regulation in the pathogenesis of SLE.
PMCID: PMC2991001  PMID: 20849588
5.  Association of TNFAIP3 Polymorphism with Susceptibility to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in a Japanese Population 
Recent genome-wide association studies demonstrated association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TNFAIP3 region at 6q23 with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in European-American populations. In this study, we investigated whether SNPs in the TNFAIP3 region are associated with SLE also in a Japanese population. A case-control association study was performed on the SNPs rs13192841, rs2230926, and rs6922466 in 318 Japanese SLE patients and 444 healthy controls. Association of rs2230926 G allele with SLE was replicated in Japanese (allelic association P = .033, odds ratio [OR] 1.47, recessive model P = .023, OR 8.52). The association was preferentially observed in the SLE patients with nephritis. When the TNFAIP3 mRNA levels of the HapMap samples were examined using GENEVAR database, the presence of TNFAIP3 rs2230926 G allele was associated with lower mRNA expression of TNFAIP3 (P = .013). These results indicated that TNFAIP3 is a susceptibility gene to SLE both in the Caucasian and Asian populations.
PMCID: PMC2896654  PMID: 20617138
6.  Significance of antiprothrombin antibodies in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: clinical evaluation of the antiprothrombin assay and the antiphosphatidylserine/prothrombin assay, and comparison with other antiphospholipid antibody assays 
Modern Rheumatology  2006;16(3):158-164.
Antibodies against prothrombin are detected by enzyme immunoassays (EIA) in sera of patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). However, there are two methods for antiprothrombin EIA; one that uses high binding plates (aPT-A), and another that utilizes phosphatidylserine bound plates (aPS/PT). We aimed to evaluate and compare aPT-A and aPS/PT in a clinical setting. We performed EIA for anti-PT, anti-PS/PT, IgG, and IgM anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL), and IgG β2-glycoprotein I-dependent aCL (aβ2GPI/CL) with serum samples from 139 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients (16 with history of at least one thrombotic episode) and 148 controls. We observed that: (1) although titers of anti-PT and anti-PS/PT were significantly related with each other (P < 0.0001, ρ = 0.548), titer of anti-PT and anti-PS/PT differed greatly in some samples; (2) odds ratio and 95% confidence interval for each assay was 3.556 (1.221–10.355) for aPT-A, 4.591 (1.555–15.560) for aPS/PT, 4.204 (1.250–14.148) for IgG aCL, 1.809 (0.354–9.232) for IgM aCL, and 7.246 (2.391–21.966) for aβ2GPI/CL. We conclude that, while all EIA performed in this study except IgM aCL are of potential value in assessing the risk of thrombosis, aPS/PT and aβ2GPI/CL seemed to be highly valuable in clinical practice, and that autoantibodies detected by anti-PT and anti-PS/PT are not completely identical.
PMCID: PMC2778700  PMID: 16767554
Antiphospholipid syndrome; Antiprothrombin antibody; Enzyme immunoassay; Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
7.  Altered peptide ligands inhibit arthritis induced by glucose-6-phosphate isomerase peptide 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R167.
Immunosuppressants, including anti-TNFα antibodies, have remarkable effects in rheumatoid arthritis; however, they increase infectious events. The present study was designed to examine the effects and immunological change of action of altered peptide ligands (APLs) on glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (GPI) peptide-induced arthritis.
DBA/1 mice were immunized with hGPI325-339, and cells of draining lymph node (DLN) were stimulated with hGPI325-339 to investigate the T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire of antigen-specific CD4+ T cells by flow cytometry. Twenty types of APLs with one amino acid substitution at a TCR contact site of hGPI325-339 were synthesized. CD4+ T cells primed with human GPI and antigen-presenting cells were co-cultured with each APL and cytokine production was measured by ELISA to identify antagonistic APLs. Antagonistic APLs were co-immunized with hGPI325-339 to investigate whether arthritis could be antigen-specifically inhibited by APL. After co-immunization, DLN cells were stimulated with hGPI325-339 or APL to investigate Th17 and regulatory T-cell population by flow cytometry, and anti-mouse GPI antibodies were measured by ELISA.
Human GPI325-339-specific Th17 cells showed predominant usage of TCRVβ8.1 8.2. Among the 20 synthesized APLs, four (APL 6; N329S, APL 7; N329T, APL 12; G332A, APL 13; G332V) significantly reduced IL-17 production by CD4+ T cells in the presence of hGPI325-339. Co-immunization with each antagonistic APL markedly prevented the development of arthritis, especially APL 13 (G332V). Although co-immunization with APL did not affect the population of Th17 and regulatory T cells, the titers of anti-mouse GPI antibodies in mice co-immunized with APL were significantly lower than in those without APL.
We prepared antagonistic APLs that antigen-specifically inhibited the development of experimental arthritis. Understanding the inhibitory mechanisms of APLs may pave the way for the development of novel therapies for arthritis induced by autoimmune responses to ubiquitous antigens.
PMCID: PMC3003534  PMID: 19900268
8.  A new low-field extremity magnetic resonance imaging and proposed compact MRI score: evaluation of anti-tumor necrosis factor biologics on rheumatoid arthritis 
Modern Rheumatology  2009;19(4):358-365.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a useful tool for evaluating disease activity and therapeutic efficacy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, conventional whole-body MRI is inconvenient on several levels. We have therefore developed a new low-field extremity MRI (compact MRI, cMRI) and examined its clinical utility. Thirteen RA patients treated with anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) biologics were included in the study. The MRI was performed twice using a 0.21-T extremity MRI system. The MRI images were scored using our proposed cMRI scoring system, which we devised with reference to the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Clinical Trials RA MRI score (OMERACT RAMRIS). In our cMRI scoring system, synovitis, bone edema, and bone erosion are separately graded on a scale from 0 to 3 by imaging over the whole hand, including the proximal interphalangeal joint. The total cMRI score (cMRIS) is then obtained by calculating the total bone erosion score × 1.5 + total bone edema score × 1.25 + total synovitis score. In this study, one patient showed a progression of bone destruction even under low clinical activity, as assessed by the disease activity score on 28 joints (DAS28); however, another patient’s cMRIS decreased concurrently with the decrease in DAS28, with the positive correlation observed between ΔDAS28 and ΔcMRIS (R = 0.055, P < 0.05). We conclude that cMRI and cMRIS are useful for assessing total disease activity and as a method linking MRI image evaluation to clinical evaluation.
PMCID: PMC2720580  PMID: 19370385
Anti-TNF biologics; Bone edema; Bone erosion; Low-field extremity MRI; MRI scoring system; Rheumatoid arthritis
9.  Efficacy of mizoribine pulse therapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who show a reduced or insufficient response to infliximab 
Modern Rheumatology  2009;19(3):229-234.
The efficacy of infliximab, a chimeric antibody against tumor necrosis factor-α used to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), tends to decrease as patients develop human antichimeric antibody against infliximab (HACA). The clinical study reported here was designed to evaluate the efficacy of mizoribine (MZR) pulse therapy in patients who show a reduced or insufficient response to infliximab. Ten RA patients who had active arthritis despite infliximab therapy were treated with MZR pulse therapy at a dose of 100 mg MZR and methotrexate (MTX) and the disease activity assessed at baseline and at weeks 4–8, 12–16, and 20–24. The dose was increased to 150 mg in those patients who showed an insufficient response to MZR. The mean 28-joint disease activity score (DAS28) at weeks 12–16 and 20–24 of therapy was significantly lower than that at baseline. A moderate or good European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) response was achieved in seven patients (70%) at weeks 12–16 and in five patients (50%) at weeks 20–24. The dose of 150 mg MZR was effective in one of the three patients who showed an insufficient response to pulse therapy with 100 mg MZR. Based on these results, we propose that MZR pulse therapy should be attempted before the patient is switched to other biologics.
PMCID: PMC2689357  PMID: 19326186
Infliximab; Mizoribine; Rheumatoid arthritis
10.  Role of STAT4 polymorphisms in systemic lupus erythematosus in a Japanese population: a case-control association study of the STAT1-STAT4 region 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(5):R113.
Recent studies identified STAT4 (signal transducers and activators of transcription-4) as a susceptibility gene for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). STAT1 is encoded adjacently to STAT4 on 2q32.2-q32.3, upregulated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from SLE patients, and functionally relevant to SLE. This study was conducted to test whether STAT4 is associated with SLE in a Japanese population also, to identify the risk haplotype, and to examine the potential genetic contribution of STAT1. To accomplish these aims, we carried out a comprehensive association analysis of 52 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) encompassing the STAT1-STAT4 region.
In the first screening, 52 tag SNPs were selected based on HapMap Phase II JPT (Japanese in Tokyo, Japan) data, and case-control association analysis was carried out on 105 Japanese female patients with SLE and 102 female controls. For associated SNPs, additional cases and controls were genotyped and association was analyzed using 308 SLE patients and 306 controls. Estimation of haplotype frequencies and an association study using the permutation test were performed with Haploview version 4.0 software. Population attributable risk percentage was estimated to compare the epidemiological significance of the risk genotype among populations.
In the first screening, rs7574865, rs11889341, and rs10168266 in STAT4 were most significantly associated (P < 0.01). Significant association was not observed for STAT1. Subsequent association studies of the three SNPs using 308 SLE patients and 306 controls confirmed a strong association of the rs7574865T allele (SLE patients: 46.3%, controls: 33.5%, P = 4.9 × 10-6, odds ratio 1.71) as well as TTT haplotype (rs10168266/rs11889341/rs7574865) (P = 1.5 × 10-6). The association was stronger in subgroups of SLE with nephritis and anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies. Population attributable risk percentage was estimated to be higher in the Japanese population (40.2%) than in Americans of European descent (19.5%).
The same STAT4 risk allele is associated with SLE in Caucasian and Japanese populations. Evidence for a role of STAT1 in genetic susceptibility to SLE was not detected. The contribution of STAT4 for the genetic background of SLE may be greater in the Japanese population than in Americans of European descent.
PMCID: PMC2592800  PMID: 18803832
11.  A functional variant of Fcγ receptor IIIA is associated with rheumatoid arthritis in individuals who are positive for anti-glucose-6-phosphate isomerase antibodies 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(6):R1183-R1188.
Anti-glucose-6-phosphate isomerase (GPI) antibodies are known to be arthritogenic autoantibodies in K/B×N mice, although some groups have reported that few healthy humans retain these antibodies. The expression of Fcγ receptors (FcγRs) is genetically regulated and has strong implications for the development of experimental arthritis. The interaction between immune complexes and FcγRs might therefore be involved in the pathogenesis of some arthritic conditions. To explore the relationship between functional polymorphisms in FcγRs (FCGR3A-158V/F and FCGR2A-131H/R) and arthritis in individuals positive for anti-GPI antibodies, we evaluated these individuals with respect to FCGR genotype. Genotyping for FCGR3A-158V/F and FCGR2A-131H/R was performed by PCR amplification of the polymorphic site, followed by site specific restriction digestion using the genome of 187 Japanese patients with rheumatoid arthritis (including 23 who were anti-GPI antibody positive) and 158 Japanese healthy individuals (including nine who were anti-GPI antibody positive). We report here on the association of FCGR3A-158V/F functional polymorphism with anti-GPI antibody positive status. Eight out of nine healthy individuals who were positive for anti-GPI antibodies possessed the homozygous, low affinity genotype FCGR3A-158F (odds ratio = 0.09, 95% confidence interval 0.01–0.89; P = 0.0199), and probably were 'protected' from arthritogenic antibodies. Moreover, among those who were homozygous for the high affinity genotype FCGR3A-158V/V, there were clear differences in anti-human and anti-rabbit GPI titres between patients with rheumatoid arthritis and healthy subjects (P = 0.0027 and P = 0.0015, respectively). Our findings provide a molecular model of the genetic regulation of autoantibody-induced arthritis by allele-specific affinity of the FcγRs.
PMCID: PMC1297563  PMID: 16277670

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