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1.  Value of Isolated IgA anti-β2GPI Positivity in the Diagnosis of the Antiphospholipid Syndrome 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(12):3186-3193.
Purpose
To examine the prevalence of isolated IgA anti-β2Glycoprotein I (anti-β2GPI) positivity and the association of these antibodies, and a subgroup that bind specifically to domain IV/V of β2GPI, with clinical manifestations of the Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS) in three patients groups. The pathogenicity of IgA anti-β2GPI was also evaluated in a mouse model of thrombosis.
Methods
Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) from a multiethnic, multicenter cohort (LUpus in MInorities, NAture versus nurture [LUMINA]) (n=558), patients with SLE from the Hopkins Lupus Cohort (n=215), and serum samples referred to the Antiphospholipid Standardization Laboratory (APLS) (n=5,098) were evaluated. IgA anti-β2GPI titers and binding to domain IV/V of β2GPI were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). CD1 mice were inoculated with purified IgA anti- β2GPI antibodies, and surgical procedures and ELISAs were performed to evaluate thrombus development and tissue factor (TF) activity.
Results
A total of 198 patients were found to be positive for IgA anti-β2GPI isotype, and 57 patients were positive exclusively for IgA anti-β2GPI antibodies. Of these, 13 of 23 patients (56.5%) in the LUMINA cohort, 17 of 17 patients (100%) in the Hopkins cohort, and 10 of 17 patients (58.9%) referred to APLS had at least one APS-related clinical manifestation. Fifty-four percent of all the IgA anti-β2GPI positive serum samples reacted with domain IV/V of anti-β2GPI, and 77% of those had clinical features of APS. Isolated IgA anti-β2GPI positivity was associated with an increased risk for arterial thrombosis (p<0.001), venous thrombosis (p=0.015) and all thrombosis (p<0.001). The association between isolated IgA anti-β2GPI and arterial thrombosis (p=0.0003) and all thrombosis (p=0.0003) remained significant after adjusting for other risk factors for thrombosis. In vivo mouse studies demonstrated that IgA anti-β2GPI antibodies induced significantly larger thrombi and higher TF levels compared to controls.
Conclusion
Isolated IgA anti-β2GPI positive titers may identify additional patients with clinical features of APS. Testing for these antibodies when other antiphospholipid (aPL) tests are negative and APS is suspected is recommended. IgA anti-β2GPI antibodies directed to domain IV/V of β2GPI represent an important subgroup of clinically relevant antiphospholipids.
doi:10.1002/art.38131
PMCID: PMC4048705  PMID: 23983008
2.  Cannabinoid receptor 2 agonist attenuates pain related behavior in rats with chronic alcohol/high fat diet induced pancreatitis 
Molecular Pain  2014;10(1):66.
Background
Chronic Pancreatitis (CP) is a complex and multifactorial syndrome. Many contributing factors result in development of dysfunctional pain in a significant number of patients. Drugs developed to treat a variety of pain states fall short of providing effective analgesia for patients with chronic pancreatitis, often providing minimal to partial pain relief over time with significant side effects. Recently, availability of selective pharmacological tools has enabled great advances in our knowledge of the role of the cannabinoid receptors in pathophysiology. In particular, cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) has emerged as an attractive target for management of chronic pain, as demonstrated in several studies with inflammatory and neuropathic preclinical pain models. In this study, the analgesic efficacy of a novel, highly selective CB2 receptor agonist, LY3038404 HCl, is investigated in a chronic pancreatitis pain model, induced with an alcohol/high fat (AHF) diet.
Results
Rats fed the AHF diet developed visceral pain-like behaviors detectable by week 3 and reached a maximum at week 5 that persists as long as the diet is maintained. Rats with AHF induced chronic pancreatitis were treated with LY3038404 HCl (10 mg/kg, orally, twice a day for 9 days). The treated animals demonstrated significantly alleviated pain related behaviors after 3 days of dosing, including increased paw withdrawal thresholds (PWT), prolonged abdominal withdrawal latencies (ABWL), and decreased nocifensive responses to noxious 44°C hotplate stimuli. Terminal histological analysis of pancreatic tissue sections from the AHF chronic pancreatitis animals demonstrated extensive injury, including a global pancreatic gland degeneration (cellular atrophy), vacuolization (fat deposition), and fibrosis. After the LY3038404 HCl treatment, pancreatic tissue was significantly protected from severe damage and fibrosis. LY3038404 HCl affected neither open field exploratory behaviors nor dark/light box preferences as measures of higher brain and motor functions.
Conclusion
LY3038404 HCl, a potent CB2 receptor agonist, possesses tissue protective and analgesic properties without effects on higher brain function. Thus, activation of CB2 receptors is suggested as a potential therapeutic target for visceral inflammation and pain management.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-10-66
PMCID: PMC4242547  PMID: 25403433
Alcohol; CB2; Pain; Ki67; Hyperalgesia; Pancreas; Behavioral testing; 44°C hotplate test; Tissue repair; High fat
3.  Gain and loss of function of P2X7 receptors: mechanisms, pharmacology and relevance to diabetic neuropathic pain 
Molecular Pain  2014;10:37.
Background
Genetic causes of exaggerated or reduced pain sensitivity in humans are well known. Recently, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the gene P2RX7, coding for the ATP-gated ion channel P2X7, have been described that cause gain-of-function (GOF) and loss-of-function (LOF), respectively of this channel. Importantly, P2RX7 SNPs have been associated with more or less severe pain scores in patient suffering of post-mastectomy pain and osteoarthritis.
Results
The functional consequences of some P2RX7 SNPs (rs208294 (His155Tyr), rs1718119 (Ala348Thr) and rs3751143 (Glu496Ala)) were studied in recombinant cells in vitro. Our findings suggest a correlation between GOF and LOF of P2X7 and actual channel protein expression. Both channel and pore function for these mutant P2X7 receptors changed in parallel to protein levels. On the other hand, the mutant receptors did not differ in their sensitivity to known P2X7 agonists and antagonists. We further demonstrated that in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain (DPNP), the presence of the GOF SNPs rs208294 (His155Tyr) and rs1718119 (Ala348Thr) is associated, in females, with higher pain intensity scores.
Conclusions
Our present results confirm the physiological relevance of some of the SNPs in the P2RX7 gene and show that the presence of these genetic variants correlates with pain sensitivity also in a diabetic neuropathic pain patient population.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-10-37
PMCID: PMC4072620  PMID: 24934217
P2X receptors; Single nucleotide polymorphism; Gain-of-function; Pain
4.  Measuring Illness Behavior in Patients with Systemic Sclerosis 
Arthritis care & research  2013;65(4):585-593.
Objective
Illness behaviors (cognitive, affective, and behavioral reactions) among individuals with systemic sclerosis (SSc) are of clinical concern due to relationships between these behaviors and physical and mental-health quality of life such as pain and symptoms of depression. Self-report measures with good psychometric properties can aid in the accurate assessment of illness behavior. The Illness Behavior Questionnaire (IBQ) was designed to measure abnormal illness behaviors; however, despite its long-standing use, there is disagreement regarding its subscales. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the validity of the IBQ in a cohort of patients with SSc.
Methods
Patients with SSc (N = 278) completed the IBQ at enrollment to the Genetics versus ENvironment In Scleroderma Outcome Study (GENISOS). Structural validity of previously derived factor solutions was investigated using confirmatory factor analysis. Exploratory factor analysis was utilized to derive SSc-specific subscales.
Results
None of the previously derived structural models were supported for SSc patients. Exploratory factor analysis supported a SSc-specific factor structure with 5 subscales. Validity analyses suggested that the subscales were generally independent of disease severity, but were correlated with other health outcomes (i.e., fatigue, pain, disability, social support, mental health).
Conclusion
The proposed subscales are recommended for use in SSc, and can be utilized to capture illness behavior that may be of clinical concern.
doi:10.1002/acr.21874
PMCID: PMC3578093  PMID: 23097280
5.  Excitatory amino acids display compartmental disparity between plasma and synovial fluid in clinical arthropathies 
Background: Previous studies have demonstrated elevated levels of excitatory amino acids (EAA) glutamate (Glu) and aspartate (Asp) in the synovial fluid (SF) of patients with active arthritis. The source of SF EAA concentrations are thought in large part to be secondary to passive diffusion from the plasma across synovial membranes and less so, reflective of local synovial pathology. Objective: This descriptive report assesses the hypothesis that the SF EAA levels reflect inflammatory processes of the joint and are not dependent on plasma levels. Methods: Simultaneously drawn plasma and SF samples were obtained from 14 recently deceased cadavers and 10 patients with active arthritis. Plasma and SF EAA and other amino acid (AA) levels were determined by HPLC. SF: Plasma compartment concentration ratios were calculated to assess if SF EAA levels were similar to plasma levels. Results: In the cadavers with no antemortem arthritis, the mean SF: Plasma ratios for Glu and Asp were 4-5-fold lower than the mean ratios seen for 9 other AAs, showing specific discrepancies of EAA levels between plasma and synovial fluid. In 9 patients with active arthritis, the SF: Plasma concentration ratios were higher in samples derived from inflammatory arthropathies. Conclusions: Clinical samples demonstrated distinct, independent compartmental EAA concentrations between blood and joint compartments in support that local arthritic processes rather than plasma influence SF EAA concentrations. The SF EAA levels, whether from local cell production, local neurogenic sources, and/or transport-gradient mechanisms, parallel local pathology in the joint compartment and thus serve as surrogate biomarkers of local inflammatory processes.
PMCID: PMC3563197  PMID: 23413050
Glutamate; aspartate; synovial fluid; arthritis; biomarker; neurotransmitter
6.  Cigarette Smoking is not a Risk Factor for Systemic Sclerosis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(10):3098-3102.
Background
The role of cigarette exposure in susceptibility to systemic sclerosis (SSc) has not been previously studied. Our objective was to investigate the association of smoking with susceptibility to SSc in a large well-defined patient population.
Methods
We conducted a review of 1,379 SSc patients enrolled in the Scleroderma Family Registry and DNA Repository and/or the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcome Study (GENISOS) cohort. Smoking history was obtained from chart review or via telephone interview. SSc patients were subsequently categorized as never smokers or ever smokers. SSc patients with available smoking data were matched 2:1 by age, gender, ethnicity and state of residence to controls using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
Results
The majority of cases were White (74.2%) with Latinos and Blacks representing 11.3% and 9.7%, respectively. Most patients had limited disease type (54%). For our comparative analyses, 621 patients were matched to controls. There was no significant difference in age, gender, ethnicity and SSc disease type between matched versus unmatched patients. The majority of patients had never smoked (57%), while 43% of patients were ever smokers. The SSc patients did not differ in their smoking behavior from controls (p=0.842, OR: 1.020, 95% CI: 0.839–1.240). Anti-topoisomerase positive patients were more likely to be never smokers (p=0.049, OR=0.648, 95% CI=0.421–0.998) whereas no such association was found with the anti-centromere and anti-RNA Polymerase antibodies.
Conclusion
Unlike in rheumatoid arthritis, smoking does not confer a risk for development of SSc, though it may impact disease severity.
doi:10.1002/art.30492
PMCID: PMC3183145  PMID: 21647865
7.  Anti-Fibrillarin Antibody in African American Patients with Systemic Sclerosis: Immunogenetics, Clinical Features, and Survival Analysis 
The Journal of rheumatology  2011;38(8):1622-1630.
Background
Anti-U3-RNP or anti-fibrillarin antibodies (AFA) are detected more frequently among African American (AA) patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) compared to other ethnic groups and are associated with distinct clinical features. The current study examines the immunogenetic, clinical, and survival correlates of AFA in a large group of AA patients with SSc.
Methods
Overall, 278 AA SSc patients and 328 unaffected AA controls were enrolled from three North American cohorts. Clinical features, autoantibody profile, and HLA-class-II genotyping were captured. To compare the clinical manifestations, relevant clinical features were adjusted for disease duration. The Cox proportional hazards regression was used to determine the effect of AFA on survival.
Results
Fifty (18.5%) AA patients had AFA. After Bonferroni correction, HLA-DRB1*08:04 was associated with AFA, compared to unaffected AA controls (OR=11.5, p<0.0001) and AFA negative SSc patients (OR=5.2, p=0.0002). AFA positive AA patients had younger age of disease onset, higher frequency of digital ulcers, diarrhea, pericarditis, higher Medsger Perivascular and lower Lung Severity Indices (p=0.004, p=0.014, p=0.019, p=0.092, p=0.006, and p=0.016, respectively). After adjustment for age at enrollment, AFA positive patients did not have different survival compared with patients without AFA (p=0.493).
Conclusion
These findings demonstrate strong association between AFA and HLA-DRB1*08:04 allele in AA patients with SSc. Moreover, AA SSc patients with AFA had younger age of onset, higher frequency of digital ulcers, pericarditis, and severe lower gastrointestinal involvement, but less severe lung involvement compared to AA patients without AFA. However, presence of AFA did not change survival.
doi:10.3899/jrheum.110071
PMCID: PMC3149738  PMID: 21572159
Scleroderma; GENISOS; anti-U3-RNP; digital ulcer; HLA DRB1; and Scleroderma Family Registry
8.  Determinants of Work Disability in Patients with Systemic Sclerosis: A Longitudinal Study of the GENISOS Cohort 
Objectives
To determine the prevalence, correlates, and predictors of work disability (WD) in the Genetics versus ENvironment In Scleroderma Outcome Study (GENISOS). We hypothesized that WD in systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a function of demographic, clinical, and psychosocial factors.
Methods
Patients enrolled in the GENISOS cohort were subdivided in 3 groups: work disabled, working, and retired or homemakers. The latter group (n=29) was excluded from further analysis. We used logistic regression analysis with a forward hierarchical variable selection strategy to investigate the independent correlates of WD at enrollment. Cox regression proportional Hazard’s model with a similar variable selection strategy was utilized to determine the predictors of WD in those working at enrollment.
Results
Overall, 284 patients with mean age of 48.7 years and disease duration of 2.5 (±1.6) years were enrolled into the GENISOS cohort, consisting of 83.5% female, 46.8% Caucasian, 28.9% Hispanic, and 20.4% African American. Patients were longitudinally followed for 3.9 (±3.6) years in 1438 study visits. At enrollment, 124 patients (43.7%) were work disabled whereas 131 (46.1%) were working. Lower education (p<0.001), higher Medsger Lung Severity Index (p=0.012), higher Fatigue Severity Score (FSS) (p=0.008), and less social support (p<0.001) correlated independently with WD. Of those working at baseline, 35 (26.7%) eventually developed WD. Non-Caucasian ethnicity (p=0.038), lower DLCO %predicted value (p=0.038), and higher FSS (p=0.009) at enrollment independently predicted WD on follow-up visits.
Conclusion
Demographic, clinical, and psychosocial factors correlate with WD cross-sectionally and predict WD longitudinally in the patients with SSc.
doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2011.01.002
PMCID: PMC3153604  PMID: 21429562
Work disability; Systemic Sclerosis; Medsger Lung Severity Index; ISEL; SF-36; Fatigue
9.  Predictors of Fatigue Severity in Early Systemic Sclerosis: A Prospective Longitudinal Study of the GENISOS Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26061.
Objectives
Longitudinal studies examining the baseline predictors of fatigue in SSc have not been reported. Our objectives were to examine the course of fatigue severity over time and to identify baseline clinical, demographic, and psychosocial predictors of sequentially obtained fatigue scores in early SSc. We also examined baseline predictors of change in fatigue severity over time.
Methods
We analyzed 1090 longitudinal Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) scores belonging to 256 patients who were enrolled in the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcomes Study (GENISOS). Predictive significance of baseline variables for sequentially obtained FSS scores was examined with generalized linear mixed models. Predictors of change in FSS over time were examined by adding an interaction term between the baseline variable and time-in-study to the model.
Results
The patients' mean age was 48.6 years, 47% were Caucasians, and 59% had diffuse cutaneous involvement. The mean disease duration at enrollment was 2.5 years. The FSS was obtained at enrollment and follow-up visits (mean follow-up time = 3.8 years). Average baseline FSS score was 4.7(±0.96). The FSS was relatively stable and did not show a consistent trend for change over time (p = 0.221). In a multivariable model of objective clinical variables, higher Medsger Gastrointestinal (p = 0.006) and Joint (p = 0.024) Severity Indices, and anti-U1-RNP antibodies (p = 0.024) were independent predictors of higher FSS. In the final model, ineffective coping skills captured by higher Illness Behavior Questionnaire scores (p<0.001), higher self-reported pain (p = 0.006), and higher Medsger Gastrointestinal Severity Index (p = 0.009) at enrollment were independent predictors of higher longitudinal FSS scores. Baseline DLco % predicted was the only independent variable that significantly predicted a change in FSS scores over time (p = 0.013), with lower DLco levels predicting an increase in FSS over time.
Conclusions
This study identified potentially modifiable clinical and psychological factors that predict longitudinal fatigue severity in early SSc.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026061
PMCID: PMC3193535  PMID: 22022507
10.  Anorectal Motility and Sensation Abnormalities and Its Correlation with Anorectal Symptoms in Patients with Systemic Sclerosis: A Preliminary Study 
ISRN Gastroenterology  2011;2011:402583.
Gastrointestinal (GI) hypomotility and symptoms are common in Scleroderma (SSc) patients yet so far uncorrelated. Eight SSc patients and matched controls were queried about their GI dysmotility symptoms and quality of life (QoL) and underwent anorectal motility and sensory tests. Specific scoring systems were developed for anorectal symptoms and anorectal dysmotility. We found that (1) the SSc patients showed low QoL and marked overall GI symptoms. The most common anorectal symptom was incomplete bowel movement (50%). (2) Compared to normal controls, SSc patients showed impaired anorectal pressures, sensations, and rectal compliance (P ≤ .01 for each). (3) The anorectal motility/sensation abnormality score was robustly correlated with the total anorectal symptom score (rs = .78, P = .02). In conclusion, scleroderma patients have impaired anorectal motor and sensory functions, and the abnormality score of these anorectal functions is correlated with the total anorectal symptoms score. These scoring systems may assist clinicians in predicting dysmotility based on patient symptoms.
doi:10.5402/2011/402583
PMCID: PMC3168395  PMID: 21991506
11.  Association of the C8orf13-BLK Region with Systemic Sclerosis in North-American and European Populations 
Journal of autoimmunity  2009;34(2):155.
Objective
Genetic studies in the systemic sclerosis (SSc), an autoimmune disease that clinically manifests with dermal and internal organ fibrosis and small vessel vasculopathy, have identified multiple susceptibility genes including HLA-class II, PTPN22, IRF5, and STAT4 which have also been associated with other autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). These data suggest that there are common autoimmune disease susceptibility genes. The current report sought to determine if polymorphisms in the C8orf13-BLK region (chromosome 8p23.1-B lymphoid tyrosine kinase), which is associated with SLE, are associated also with SSc.
Methods
Two variants in the C8orf13-BLK region (rs13277113 & rs2736340) were tested for association with 1050 SSc cases and 694 controls of North Americans of European descent and replicated in a second series 589 SSc cases and 722 controls from Spain.
Results
The “T” allele at rs2736340 variant was associated with SSc in both the U.S. and Spanish case-control series (P=6.8×10−5, OR 1.27, 95%CI 1.1–1.4). The “A” allele at rs13277113 variant was associated with SSc in the U.S. series only (P=3.6×10−4, OR 1.32, 95%CI 1.1–1.6) and was significant in the combined analyses of the two series (P=2.0×10−3; OR 1.20, 95%CI 1.1–1.3). Both variants demonstrated an association with the anti-centromere antibody (P=2.2×10−6 and P=5.5×10−4, respectively) and limited SSc (P=3.3×10−5 and P=2.9×10−3, respectively) in the combined analysis. Peripheral blood gene expression profiles suggest that B-cell receptor and NFκB signaling are dysregulated based on the risk haplotype of these variants.
Conclusion
We identify and replicate the association of the C8orf13-BLK region as a novel susceptibility factor for SSc, placing it in the category of common autoimmune disease susceptibility genes.
doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2009.08.014
PMCID: PMC2821978  PMID: 19796918
Scleroderma; Systemic Sclerosis/SSc; Polymorphism/SNP; BLK; C8orf13; Anti- Topoisomerase-I; Anti-Centromere; Genetics; Autoantibody; rs13277113; rs2736340
12.  Perceived Functioning Has Ethnic-specific Associations in Systemic Sclerosis: Another Dimension of Personalized Medicine 
The Journal of rheumatology  2009;36(12):2724-2732.
Objective
To measure self-reported physical and mental functioning and associated clinical features at study entry in 3 ethnic groups with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Methods
Sixty Hispanic, 39 African American, and 104 Caucasian patients with recent-onset SSc (< 5 yrs) were assessed for perceived physical and mental functioning, using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36) and Scleroderma-Health Assessment Questionnaire (Sclero-derma-HAQ). Socioeconomic, demographic, clinical, immunologic, immunogenetic, behavioral, and psychological variables (Interpersonal Support Evaluation List, ISEL; Illness Behavior Questionnaire, IBQ; and Arthritis Helplessness Index, AHI) were analyzed by linear regression models for associations with SF-36 and mHAQ scores as dependent variables.
Results
Perceived physical functioning scores had ethnic-specific associations with AHI > fatigue scores > IBQ > clinical variables (hypertension, skin score, and percentage predicted DLCO). Scleroderma-HAQ scores had ethnic-specific associations with IBQ > AHI scores > most clinical and laboratory variables. Decreased mental component summary (MCS) scores associated with AHI > ISEL. Ethnic-specific immunogenetic variables HLA-DQB1*0202 (Caucasian) and HLA-DRB1*11 (African American), and HLA-DQA1*0501 (Hispanic) also associated with MCS. Antinuclear autoantibodies, anti-topoisomerase I, and RNA polymerases I and III also demonstrated associations with functioning in African American and Hispanic groups.
Conclusion
Clinical, psychosocial, and immunogenetic variables had ethnic-specific associations with perceived physical and mental functioning. Consideration of ethnic-specific psychological and behavioral support in designing more personalized, relevant therapeutic interventions for the patient may improve therapeutic efficacy in SSc.
doi:10.3899/jrheum.090295
PMCID: PMC2893328  PMID: 19918038
MEDICAL OUTCOMES STUDY SHORT FORM-36; ILLNESS BEHAVIOR QUESTIONNAIRE; SCLERODERMA HEALTH ASSESSMENT QUESTIONNAIRE; HISPANIC; INTERPERSONAL SUPPORT EVALUATION LIST; PERSONALIZED MEDICINE
13.  Predictors of interstitial lung disease in early systemic sclerosis: a prospective longitudinal study of the GENISOS cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R166.
Introduction
The objective of the present study was to examine the association of baseline demographic and clinical characteristics with sequentially obtained measurements of forced vital capacity (FVC), expressed as a percentage of the predicted value, and to identify predictors of the decline rate in FVC over time in the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcome Study (GENISOS).
Methods
To date, 266 patients have been enrolled in GENISOS, a prospective, observational cohort of patients with early systemic sclerosis. In addition to pulmonary function tests (PFTs), clinical and laboratory data were obtained from each patient. We analyzed 926 FVC measurements utilizing generalized linear mixed models. The predictive significance of baseline variables for the decline rate in FVC was investigated by the interaction term between the variable and the follow-up time within the first 3 years after enrollment as well as throughout the entire follow-up time.
Results
The cohort consisted of 125 white, 54 African American, and 77 Hispanic patients with average disease duration of 2.5 years at enrollment. The mean follow-up time was 3.8 years, ranging up to 11.4 years. A number of baseline variables, including antibody status, African American ethnicity, disease type, baseline PFT values, modified Rodnan Skin Score, fibrosis on chest radiograph, and lung and skin subscores of the Severity Index, were associated with serially measured FVC levels. However, only the presence of anti-topoisomerase I antibodies (ATA) was associated with lower FVC levels (P < 0.001) as well as accelerated decline rate in FVC within the first 3 years of follow-up (P = 0.02). None of the baseline variables predicted the rate of decline in FVC on long-term follow-up. Patients with rapidly progressive ILD, however, were under-represented in the long-term follow-up group because the accelerated rate of decline in FVC was associated with poor survival (P = 0.001).
Conclusions
Presence of ATA was the only baseline variable associated with differential FVC levels, predicting the rate of decline in FVC within the first 3 years of follow-up. The association of faster decline in FVC with poor survival further emphasizes the need for identification of predictive biomarkers by collection of genetic information and serial blood samples in cohort studies.
doi:10.1186/ar3125
PMCID: PMC2990992  PMID: 20813056
14.  Impact of central and peripheral TRPV1 and ROS levels on proinflammatory mediators and nociceptive behavior 
Molecular Pain  2010;6:46.
Background
Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channels are important membrane sensors on peripheral nerve endings and on supportive non-neuronal synoviocytes in the knee joint. TRPV 1 ion channels respond with activation of calcium and sodium fluxes to pH, thermal, chemical, osmotic, mechanical and other stimuli abundant in inflamed joints. In the present study, the kaolin/carrageenan (k/c) induced knee joint arthritis model in rats, as well as primary and clonal human synoviocyte cultures were used to understand the reciprocal interactions between reactive nitroxidative species (ROS) and functional TRPV1 channels. ROS generation was monitored with ROS sensitive dyes using live cell imaging in vitro and in spinal tissue histology, as well as with measurement of ROS metabolites in culture media using HPLC.
Results
Functional responses in the experimental arthritis model, including increased nociceptive responses (thermal and mechanical hyperalgesia and allodynia), knee joint temperature reflecting local blood flow, and spinal cord ROS elevations were reduced by the ROS scavenger PBN after intraperitoneal pretreatment. Increases in TRPV1 and ROS, generated by synoviocytes in vitro, were reciprocally blocked by TRPV1 antagonists and the ROS scavenger. Further evidence is presented that synoviocyte responses to ROS and TRPV1 activation include increases in TNFα and COX-2, both measured as an indicator of the inflammation in vitro.
Conclusions
The results demonstrate that contributions of ROS to pronociceptive responses and neurogenic inflammation are mediated both centrally and peripherally. Responses are mediated by TRPV1 locally in the knee joint by synoviocytes, as well as by ROS-induced sensitization in the spinal cord. These findings and those of others reported in the literature indicate reciprocal interactions between TRPV1 and ROS play critical roles in the pathological and nociceptive responses active during arthritic inflammation.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-6-46
PMCID: PMC2924298  PMID: 20691059
15.  Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II alleles, haplotypes and epitopes which confer susceptibility or protection in systemic sclerosis: analyses in 1300 Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic cases and 1000 controls 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2009;69(5):822-827.
Objective
To determine human leucocyte antigen-class II (HLA-class II) (DRB1, DQB1, DQA1 and DPB1) alleles, haplotypes and shared epitopes associated with scleroderma (systemic sclerosis (SSc)) and its subphenotypes in a large multi-ethnic US cohort by a case–control association study.
Patients and methods
1300 SSc cases (961 white, 178 black and 161 Hispanic subjects) characterised for clinical skin forms (limited vs diffuse), SSc-specific autoantibodies (anticentromere (ACA), anti-topoisomerase I (ATA), anti-RNA polymerase III (ARA), anti-U3 ribonucleoprotein (fibrillarin)) and others were studied using molecular genotyping. Statistical analyses in SSc itself by ethnicity, gender, skin type and autoantibodies were performed using exact logistic regression modelling for dominant, additive and recessive effects from HLA.
Results
The strongest positive class II associations with SSc in white and Hispanic subjects were the DRB1*1104, DQA1*0501, DQB1*0301 haplotype and DQB1 alleles encoding a non-leucine residue at position 26 (DQB1 26 epi), while the DRB1*0701, DQA1*0201, DQB1*0202 haplotype and DRB1*1501 haplotype were negatively correlated and possibly protective in dominant and recessive models, respectively. These associations did not discriminate between limited and diffuse SSc. SSc in black subjects was associated with DRB1*0804, DQA1*0501, DQB1*0301 alleles. DPB1*1301 showed the highest odds ratio for ATA (OR = 14). Moreover, it showed no linkage disequilibrium or gene interaction with DR/DQ. ACA was best explained by DQB1*0501 and DQB1*26 epi alleles and ARA by DRB1*0404, DRB1*11 and DQB1*03 alleles in white and Hispanic subjects but DRB1*08 in black subjects.
Conclusion
These data indicate unique and multiple HLA-class II effects in SSc, especially on autoantibody markers of different subphenotypes.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.111906
PMCID: PMC2916702  PMID: 19596691
16.  Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II alleles, haplotypes and epitopes which confer susceptibility or protection in systemic sclerosis: analyses in 1300 Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic cases and 1000 controls 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(5):822-827.
Objective
To determine human leucocyte antigen-class II (HLA-class II) (DRB1, DQB1, DQA1 and DPB1) alleles, haplotypes and shared epitopes associated with scleroderma (systemic sclerosis (SSc)) and its subphenotypes in a large multi-ethnic US cohort by a case–control association study.
Patients and methods
1300 SSc cases (961 white, 178 black and 161 Hispanic subjects) characterised for clinical skin forms (limited vs diffuse), SSc-specific autoantibodies (anticentromere (ACA), anti-topoisomerase I (ATA), anti-RNA polymerase III (ARA), anti-U3 ribonucleoprotein (fibrillarin)) and others were studied using molecular genotyping. Statistical analyses in SSc itself by ethnicity, gender, skin type and autoantibodies were performed using exact logistic regression modelling for dominant, additive and recessive effects from HLA.
Results
The strongest positive class II associations with SSc in white and Hispanic subjects were the DRB1*1104, DQA1*0501, DQB1*0301 haplotype and DQB1 alleles encoding a non-leucine residue at position 26 (DQB1 26 epi), while the DRB1*0701, DQA1*0201, DQB1*0202 haplotype and DRB1*1501 haplotype were negatively correlated and possibly protective in dominant and recessive models, respectively. These associations did not discriminate between limited and diffuse SSc. SSc in black subjects was associated with DRB1*0804, DQA1*0501, DQB1*0301 alleles. DPB1*1301 showed the highest odds ratio for ATA (OR = 14). Moreover, it showed no linkage disequilibrium or gene interaction with DR/DQ. ACA was best explained by DQB1*0501 and DQB1*26 epi alleles and ARA by DRB1*0404, DRB1*11 and DQB1*03 alleles in white and Hispanic subjects but DRB1*08 in black subjects.
Conclusion
These data indicate unique and multiple HLA-class II effects in SSc, especially on autoantibody markers of different subphenotypes.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.111906
PMCID: PMC2916702  PMID: 19596691
17.  Functional Outcome After Stroke in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2008;59(7):984-988.
Objective
To compare outcomes following stroke rehabilitation among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) versus patients with neither RA nor SLE (non-RA/SLE).
Methods
We conducted a retrospective analysis using a national database of patients with stroke admitted to inpatient rehabilitation between 1994 and 2001. Primary outcomes were discharge disposition and functional status, rated by the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) Instrument, at discharge and at followup. The independent variable was RA or SLE. Covariates were age, sex, race/ethnicity, admission FIM ratings, additional comorbidities (none, 1–3, and >3), type of stroke, and length of stay.
Results
We studied 47,853 patients with stroke, 368 with RA, and 119 with SLE. Discharge dispositions were similar for patients with RA and non-RA/SLE (81% discharged home). At discharge, the average FIM rating for patients with RA was 85.8, compared with 87.8 for non-RA/SLE patients. At followup, the average FIM rating for patients with RA was 95.9, compared with 99.6 for non-RA/SLE patients. RA was associated with lower FIM ratings at discharge and followup in multivariate analyses. SLE was associated with younger age (17.5 years). However, patients with SLE had similar discharge dispositions and FIM ratings to non-RA/SLE patients.
Conclusion
RA was associated with lower functional status ratings at discharge and followup. Outpatient therapy for patients with RA may reduce long-term assistance. Patients with SLE were younger, but had similar functional outcomes to patients without RA/SLE, suggesting early morbidity from stroke among patients with SLE.
doi:10.1002/art.23816
PMCID: PMC2886979  PMID: 18576291
18.  Clinical and Genetic Factors Predictive of Mortality in Early Systemic Sclerosis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;61(10):1403-1411.
Objective
To investigate the clinical and genetic variables at initial presentation that predict survival in the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcome Study (GENISOS) cohort.
Methods
GENISOS is a prospective, observational study of a multiethnic early systemic sclerosis (SSc) cohort. To date, a total of 250 patients have been enrolled. In addition to clinical and laboratory data, electrocardiograms (EKGs), chest radiographs, and pulmonary function tests have been obtained from each patient. A modified Rodnan skin thickness score, HLA class II genotyping, and a Medsger Damage Index also have been collected. We performed multivariable analyses utilizing the Cox regression following a purposeful model building strategy.
Results
The study analyzed 122 white, 47 African American, and 71 Hispanic SSc patients with an average disease duration of 2.6 years at enrollment. At the time of analysis, 52 (20.8%) of the 250 patients had died. In the final multivariable model excluding HLA genes, 7 variables emerged as significant predictors of mortality: age ≥65 years at enrollment, forced vital capacity <50% predicted, clinically significant arrhythmia on EKG, absence of anticentromere antibodies, hypertension, chest radiograph suggestive of pulmonary fibrosis, and low body mass index (BMI). In separate modeling that included HLA genes, HLA alleles DRB1*0802 and DQA1*0501 were significant predictors of mortality in addition to the predictors mentioned above.
Conclusion
A limited number of variables collected at presentation, including BMI, are able to predict mortality in patients with early SSc. In addition, some of the HLA genes associated with SSc susceptibility are useful for predicting SSc outcome.
doi:10.1002/art.24734
PMCID: PMC2883167  PMID: 19790132
19.  Systemic Sclerosis and Lupus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(2):589-598.
Objective
To investigate peripheral blood (PB) cell transcript profiles of systemic sclerosis (SSc) and its subtypes in direct comparison with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods
We investigated PB cell samples from 74 SSc patients, 21 healthy controls, and 17 SLE patients using Illumina Human Ref-8 BeadChips and quantitative polymerase chain reaction confirmation. None of the study participants were receiving immunosuppressive agents other than low-dose steroids and hydroxychloroquine. In addition to conventional statistical and modular analysis, a composite score for the interferon (IFN)–inducible genes was calculated. Within the group of patients with SSc, the correlation of the IFN score with the serologic and clinical subtypes was investigated, as were single-nucleotide polymorphisms in a selected number of IFN pathway genes.
Results
Many of the most prominently overexpressed genes in SSc and SLE were IFN-inducible genes. Forty-three of 47 overexpressed IFN-inducible genes in SSc (91%) were similarly altered in SLE. The IFN score was highest in the SLE patients, followed by the SSc patients, and then the controls. The difference in IFN score among all 3 groups was statistically significant (P < 0.001 for all 3 comparisons). SSc and SLE PB cell samples showed striking parallels to our previously reported SSc skin transcripts in regard to the IFN-inducible gene expression pattern. In SSc, the presence of antitopoisomerase and anti–U1 RNP antibodies and lymphopenia correlated with the higher IFN scores (P = 0.005, P = 0.001, and P = 0.004, respectively); a missense mutation in IFNAR2 was significantly associated with the IFN score.
Conclusion
SLE and SSc fit within the same spectrum of IFN-mediated diseases. A subset of SSc patients shows a “lupus-like” high IFN-inducible gene expression pattern that correlates with the presence of antitopoisomerase and anti–U1 RNP antibodies.
doi:10.1002/art.27224
PMCID: PMC2879587  PMID: 20112391
20.  Separate Influences of Birth Order and Gravidity/Parity on the Development of Systemic Sclerosis 
Arthritis care & research  2010;62(3):418-424.
Objective
Birth order has been valuable in revealing the role of environmental influences on the risk of developing certain diseases such as allergy and atopy. In addition, pregnancy has profound effects on the immune system such as short-term effects that permit fetal survival as well as longer-term effects that could influence late-onset diseases. In order to better evaluate these influences, we studied the association of birth order and gravidity/parity as risk factors for systemic sclerosis (SSc; scleroderma).
Methods
Data regarding SSc cases and their unaffected sibling controls were obtained from the Scleroderma Family Registry and DNA Repository. The case-sibling design was used to minimize confounding due to differences in age, race, ethnicity, or calendar time. The gravidity/parity analysis was based on sibships with at least one SSc-affected and one unaffected sister.
Results
Birth order was examined in 974 sibships, comparing SSc cases (n = 987) with their unaffected siblings (n = 3,088). The risk of scleroderma increased with increasing birth order (odds ratio [OR] 1.25, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.06–1.50 for birth order 2–5; OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.57–3.15 for birth order 6–9; and OR 3.53, 95% CI 1.68–7.45 for birth order 10–15). Gravidity/parity was analyzed in 168 sibships (256 unaffected sisters, 172 SSc cases). We found an association between a history of one or more pregnancies and SSc (OR 2.8).
Conclusion
Birth order and pregnancy were independently associated with a higher risk of developing SSc. These findings suggest that immune development in early childhood and/or pregnancy-associated events, including but not limited to microchimerism, plays a role in SSc susceptibility.
doi:10.1002/acr.20096
PMCID: PMC2876718  PMID: 20391489
21.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Was Associated with Higher Perceived Physical and Mental Functioning in Early Systemic Sclerosis 
Explore (New York, N.Y.)  2008;4(4):259-263.
Objective
This study assessed the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in patients with early systemic sclerosis (scleroderma, SSc).
Methods
At the annual visit, SSc patients enrolled in the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcomes Study (GENISOS) were queried about their use of CAM therapies and intended symptom target, including herbal or nutriceutical therapy, acupuncture, transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation (TENS) and mind-body therapy (relaxation, meditative, imagery). The CAM user SSc patients were compared to matched non-CAM users over two years for database results of demographic, clinical and health-related quality of life SF-36 questionnaires by analysis of covariance.
Results
25% of the university GENISOS group were CAM users: age: 54 years; female: 89%; diffuse cutaneous involvement: 47%; total skin score: 13.5; Medsger severity index: 5.8. Over 70% used ≥1 CAM therapies for over 1 year, independent of health insurance. Symptoms targeted included arthritis/arthralgia, pain, GI dysmotility and fatigue. CAM users had significantly higher mean mental component summary (MCS) scores on SF-36 at Baseline and Year 2, (49 and 49.9), compared to non-CAM users (42 and 40.2, respectively, p<0.01). At Year 2, the CAM user group had significantly higher scores of SF-36 domains physical component score, role-physical, bodily pain and vitality, whereas scores declined in the non-CAM user group.
Conclusion
In SSc, 70% of those in the CAM user group reported a long-term commitment to CAM therapies. Higher perceived mental functioning in CAM users might reflect more self-motivation to manage symptoms and subsequently, promote practices that result in higher perceived physical functioning.
doi:10.1016/j.explore.2008.04.004
PMCID: PMC2875784  PMID: 18602619
CAM; SF-36; Integrative Medicine; Pain; Arthritis; GI Hypomotility; Scleroderma; GENISOS
22.  Association of TNFSF4 (OX40L) polymorphisms with susceptibility to systemic sclerosis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(3):550-555.
Objective
It is increasingly being appreciated that multiple autoimmune diseases share common susceptibility genes. The tumour necrosis factor ligand superfamily member 4 gene (TNFSF4, OX40L), which encodes for the T cell costimulatory molecule OX40 ligand, has been identified as a susceptibility gene for the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Accordingly, the aim of the current study was to investigate the possible association of the TNFSF4 gene region with systemic sclerosis (SSc), an autoimmune disease that leads to the development of cutaneous and visceral fibrosis.
Methods
A total of 9 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TNFSF4 gene region, previously associated with susceptibility to SLE, were tested for association with SSc in a collection of 1059 patients with SSc and 698 controls.
Results
Case-control comparisons revealed a significant association between susceptibility to SSc and the minor alleles at SNPs rs1234314 (OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.4, pFDR=0.019), rs2205960 (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.50, pFDR=0.019) and rs844648 (OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.30, pFDR=0.032). The minor allele at rs844644 was protective (OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.97, pFDR=0.038). Analysis of subsets of patients with SSc demonstrated significant associations of the TNFSF4 SNPs with limited and diffuse SSc as well as specific SNPs that were associated with SSc-associated autoantibodies. Finally, the analyses suggest a potential interaction between two TNFSF4 SNPs, rs2205960 and rs844648, with regards to SSc susceptibility.
Conclusions
Polymorphisms in the TNFSF4 gene region are associated with susceptibility to SSc and its clinical and autoantibody subsets. TNFSF4 may be another gene that confers risk to multiple autoimmune diseases.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.116434
PMCID: PMC2927683  PMID: 19778912
23.  Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) enhances functional thermal and chemical responses of TRP cation channels in human synoviocytes 
Molecular Pain  2009;5:49.
Background
We have shown functional expression of several TRP channels on human synovial cells, proposing significance in known calcium dependent proliferative and secretory responses in joint inflammation. The present study further characterizes synoviocyte TRP expression and activation responses to thermal and osmotic stimuli after pre-treatment with proinflammatory mediator tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α, EC50 1.3221 × 10-10g/L).
Results
Fluorescent imaging of Fura-2 loaded human SW982 synoviocytes reveals immediate and delayed cytosolic calcium oscillations elicited by (1) TRPV1 agonists capsaicin and resiniferatoxin (20 – 40% of cells), (2) moderate and noxious temperature change, and (3) osmotic stress TRPV4 activation (11.5% of cells). TNF-alpha pre-treatment (1 ng/ml, 8 – 16 hr) significantly increases (doubles) capsaicin responsive cell numbers and [Ca2+]i spike frequency, as well as enhances average amplitude of temperature induced [Ca2+]i responses. With TNF-alpha pre-treatment for 8, 12, and 16 hr, activation with 36 or 45 degree bath solution induces bimodal [Ca2+]i increase (temperature controlled chamber). Initial temperature induced rapid transient spikes and subsequent slower rise reflect TRPV1 and TRPV4 channel activation, respectively. Only after prolonged TNF-alpha exposure (12 and 16 hr) is recruitment of synoviocytes observed with sensitized TRPV4 responses to hypoosmolarity (3–4 fold increase). TNF-alpha increases TRPV1 (8 hr peak) and TRPV4 (12 hr peak) immunostaining, mRNA and protein expression, with a TRPV1 shift to membrane fractions.
Conclusion
TNF-α provides differentially enhanced synoviocyte TRPV1 and TRPV4 expression and [Ca2+]i response dependent on the TRP stimulus and time after exposure. Augmented relevance of TRPV1 and TRPV4 as inflammatory conditions persist would provide calcium mediated cell signaling required for pathophysiological responses of synoviocytes in inflammatory pain states.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-5-49
PMCID: PMC3152771  PMID: 19695100
24.  Treatment of Inflamed Pancreas with Enkephalin Encoding HSV-1 Recombinant Vector Reduces Inflammatory Damage and Behavioral Sequelae 
This study assessed the efficacy of pancreatic surface delivered enkephalin (ENK)-encoding herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) on spontaneous behaviors and spinal cord and pancreatic enkephalin expression in an experimental pancreatitis model. Replication-defective HSV-1 with proenkephalin complementary DNA (cDNA) (HSV-ENK) or control β-galactosidase cDNA (HSV-β-gal), or media vehicle (Veh) was applied to the pancreatic surface of rats with dibutyltin dichloride (DBTC)-induced pancreatitis. Spontaneous exploratory behavioral activity was monitored on days 0 and 6 post DBTC and vector treatments. The pancreas, thoracic dorsal root ganglia (DRG, T9-10), and spinal cord (T9-10) were immunostained for metenkephalin (met-ENK), β-gal, and HSV-1 proteins. Spinal cord was also immunostained for c-Fos, and pancreas was stained for the inflammatory marker regulated on activation, normal T-cells expressed and secreted (RANTES), mu-opioid receptor, and hemotoxylin/eosin. On day 6, compared to pancreatitis and vector controls, the DBTC/HSV-ENK treated rats had significantly improved spontaneous exploratory activities, increased met-ENK staining in the pancreas and spinal cord, and normalized c-Fos staining in the dorsal horn. Histopathology of pancreas in DBTC/HSV-ENK treated rats showed preservation of acinar cells and cytoarchitecture with minimal inflammatory cell infiltrates, compared to severe inflammation and acinar cell loss seen in DBTC/HSV-β-gal and DBTC/Veh treated rats. Targeted transgene delivery and met-ENK expression successfully produced decreased inflammation in experimental pancreatitis.
doi:10.1038/sj.mt.6300228
PMCID: PMC2592562  PMID: 17565349
25.  Enkephalin-encoding herpes simplex virus-1 decreases inflammation and hotplate sensitivity in a chronic pancreatitis model 
Molecular Pain  2008;4:8.
Background
A chronic pancreatitis model was developed in young male Lewis rats fed a high-fat and alcohol liquid diet beginning at three weeks. The model was used to assess time course and efficacy of a replication defective herpes simplex virus type 1 vector construct delivering human cDNA encoding preproenkephalin (HSV-ENK).
Results
Most surprising was the relative lack of inflammation and tissue disruption after HSV-ENK treatment compared to the histopathology consistent with pancreatitis (inflammatory cell infiltration, edema, acinar cell hypertrophy, fibrosis) present as a result of the high-fat and alcohol diet in controls. The HSV-ENK vector delivered to the pancreatic surface at week 3 reversed pancreatitis-associated hotplate hypersensitive responses for 4–6 weeks, while control virus encoding β-galactosidase cDNA (HSV-β-gal) had no effect. Increased Fos expression seen bilaterally in pain processing regions in control animals with pancreatitis was absent in HSV-ENK-treated animals. Increased met-enkephalin staining was evident in pancreas and lower thoracic spinal cord laminae I–II in the HSV-ENK-treated rats.
Conclusion
Thus, clear evidence is provided that site specific HSV-mediated transgene delivery of human cDNA encoding preproenkephalin ameliorates pancreatic inflammation and significantly reduces hypersensitive hotplate responses for an extended time consistent with HSV mediated overexpression, without tolerance or evidence of other opiate related side effects.
doi:10.1186/1744-8069-4-8
PMCID: PMC2292157  PMID: 18307791

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