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1.  Differences in Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease between African American and Caucasian Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Racial differences exist in disease rates and mortality in both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). The objective of this cross-sectional study was to compare the frequency of and risk factors for subclinical CVD in African-American (AA) and Caucasian women with SLE and no prior CVD events.
Traditional CVD risk factors and SLE-related factors were assessed in 309 SLE women. Subclinical CVD was assessed by carotid ultrasound to measure intima-medial thickness (IMT) and plaque, and electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) to measure coronary artery calcium (CAC).
AA had less education, higher body mass index, blood pressure, lipoprotein(a), CRP, fibrinogen, and ESR, but lower albumin; more and longer duration of corticosteroid use; higher SLE disease activity and damage; and more had dsDNA antibodies compared to Caucasian women, after adjustment for age and study-site. More AA had carotid plaque (adjusted OR 1.94, 95%CI 1.03, 3.65) and higher carotid IMT (0.620 vs. 0.605mm, p=0.07) compared with Caucasians, but similar CAC. Multivariate analysis included risk factor variables significantly different between the racial groups and associated with plaque: blood pressure, current corticosteroid use, SLE disease activity and damage. All factors contributed, but no individual risk factor fully accounted for the association between race and plaque.
In conclusion, the presence of carotid plaque was higher in AA compared with Caucasian women with SLE, in contrast to studies of non-SLE subjects, where AA have similar or less plaque than Caucasians. A combination of SLE-related and traditional CVD risk factors explained the racial difference in plaque burden.
PMCID: PMC2674850  PMID: 19138649
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Race; Cardiovascular Disease
2.  Association analysis of PON2 genetic variants with serum paraoxonase activity and systemic lupus erythematosus 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:7.
Low serum paraoxonase (PON) activity is associated with the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Our prior studies have shown that the PON1/rs662 (p.Gln192Arg), PON1/rs854560 (p.Leu55Met), PON3/rs17884563 and PON3/rs740264 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) significantly affect serum PON activity. Since PON1, PON2 and PON3 share high degree of structural and functional properties, in this study, we examined the role of PON2 genetic variation on serum PON activity, risk of SLE and SLE-related clinical manifestations in a Caucasian case-control sample.
PON2 SNPs were selected from HapMap and SeattleSNPs databases by including at least one tagSNP from each bin defined in these resources. A total of nineteen PON2 SNPs were successfully genotyped in 411 SLE cases and 511 healthy controls using pyrosequencing, restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) or TaqMan allelic discrimination methods.
Our pair-wise linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis, using an r2 cutoff of 0.7, identified 14 PON2 tagSNPs that captured all 19 PON2 variants in our sample, 12 of which were not in high LD with known PON1 and PON3 SNP modifiers of PON activity. Stepwise regression analysis of PON activity, including the known modifiers, identified five PON2 SNPs [rs6954345 (p.Ser311Cys), rs13306702, rs987539, rs11982486, and rs4729189; P = 0.005 to 2.1 × 10-6] that were significantly associated with PON activity. We found no association of PON2 SNPs with SLE risk but modest associations were observed with lupus nephritis (rs11981433, rs17876205, rs17876183) and immunologic disorder (rs11981433) in SLE patients (P = 0.013 to 0.042).
Our data indicate that PON2 genetic variants significantly affect variation in serum PON activity and have modest effects on risk of lupus nephritis and SLE-related immunologic disorder.
PMCID: PMC3030528  PMID: 21223581
3.  25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;61(10):1387-1395.
Low serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D, vitamin D) are associated with a higher frequency of cardiovascular disease and risk factors in the general population. Vitamin D deficiency has been noted in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The objective of this study was to evaluate the associations of serum 25(OH)D levels with cardiovascular risk factors in women with SLE.
Data collected in 181 women with SLE included demographics, SLE activity and damage assessments, cardiovascular risk factors, medications, and laboratory assessments of inflammatory markers and 25(OH)D levels. Multiple linear and logistic regressions were used to estimate the association of 25(OH)D with cardiovascular risk factors.
Mean age and disease duration were 43.2 and 11.9 years, respectively. Mean 25(OH)D was 27.1 ng/ml and 62.2% had 25(OH)D levels <30 ng/ml. In unadjusted analyses, lower 25(OH)D levels were significantly associated with higher diastolic blood pressure, low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c), lipoprotein (a), body mass index (BMI), and fibrinogen levels, as well as self-reported hypertension and diabetes. Lower 25(OH)D levels were also significantly associated with higher SLE disease activity and damage scores. After adjustment for age, seasonal variation, and race/ethnicity, lower 25(OH)D levels were also significantly related to higher fasting serum glucose. With further adjustment for BMI, associations between 25(OH)D and cardiovascular risk factors were no longer significant.
This study demonstrates that vitamin D levels are low in women with SLE and significant associations exist with selected cardiovascular risk factors although most of these associations can be explained by BMI.
PMCID: PMC2785856  PMID: 19790113
4.  APOH Promoter Polymorphisms in Relation to Lupus and Lupus-Related Phenotypes 
The Journal of rheumatology  2009;36(2):315-322.
Sequence variation in gene promoters is often associated with disease risk. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that common promoter variation in the APOH gene (encoding for β2-glycoprotein I) is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) risk and SLE-related clinical phenotypes in a Caucasian cohort.
We used a case-control design and genotyped 345 SLE women and 454 healthy control women for 8 APOH promoter single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (−1284C>G, −1219G>A, −1190G>C, −759 A>G, − 700C>A, −643T>C, −38G>A, and −32C>A). Association analyses were performed on single SNPs and haplotypes. Haplotype analyses were performed using EH (Estimate Haplotype-frequencies) and Haploview programs. In vitro reporter gene assay was performed in COS-1 cells. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) was performed using HepG2 nuclear cells.
Overall haplotype distribution of the APOH promoter SNPs was significantly different between cases and controls (P = 0.009). The −643C allele was found to be protective against carotid plaque formation (adjusted OR = 0.37, P = 0.013) among SLE patients. The −643C allele was associated with a ~ 2-fold decrease in promoter activity as compared to wild-type −643T allele (mean ± standard deviation: 3.94 ± 0.05 vs. 6.99 ± 0.68, P = 0.016). EMSA showed that the −643T>C SNP harbors a binding site for a nuclear factor. The −1219G>A SNP showed a significant association with the risk of lupus nephritis (age-adjusted OR = 0.36, P = 0.016).
Our data indicate that APOH promoter variants may be involved in the etiology of SLE, especially the risk for autoimmune-mediated cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC2667221  PMID: 19132787
APOH; β2-glycoprotein I; promoter; SLE; lupus; polymorphism

Results 1-4 (4)