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1.  Heparin-Related Thrombocytopenia Triggered by Severe Status of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Bacterial Infection 
Case Reports in Rheumatology  2016;2016:6571621.
A patient with severe lupus nephritis developed thrombocytopenia during treatment with high-dose steroids. In addition to viral- or disease-induced cytopenia, the pathology was believed to arise from diverse contributing factors, such as thrombotic microangiopathy and heparin-related thrombocytopenia (HIT). By combining plasma exchange therapy and intravenous cyclophosphamide, we successfully controlled the SLE activity and improved the thrombocytopenia. An antecedent bacterial infection or SLE activity is believed to have contributed to the concurrent HIT.
PMCID: PMC5028856  PMID: 27699076
2.  Association of HLA-G 3’ Untranslated Region Polymorphisms with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in a Japanese Population: A Case-Control Association Study 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(6):e0158065.
HLA-G plays a role in fetal-maternal tolerance as well as immunoregulation, and has been suggested to be involved in autoimmune diseases and cancers. HLA-G encodes two potentially functional polymorphisms in the 3’ untranslated region, 14bp insertion/deletion (14bp indel, rs371194629) and a single nucleotide polymorphism rs1063320, previously reported to affect HLA-G expression level or splicing isoform and to be associated with susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, the results of SLE association studies are inconsistent, probably due to the small sample size of each study and lack of consideration of linkage disequilibrium (LD) with HLA-class II haplotypes in each population. In this study, we performed association studies of these polymorphisms on 843 patients with SLE and 778 healthy controls in a Japanese population, in many of whom HLA-DRB1 alleles have been genotyped at the four-digit level. LD was detected between DRB1*13:02, protective against multiple autoimmune diseases in the Japanese, and the rs1063320 G (D’ = 0.86, r2 = 0.02) and with 14bp del (D’ = 0.62, r2 = 0.01), but not between SLE-susceptible DRB1*15:01 and HLA-G. Although significant association with overall SLE was not detected, 14bp ins allele was significantly associated with SLE with the age of onset <20 years, when compared with healthy controls (P = 0.0067, PFDR = 0.039, OR 1.44, additive model) or with SLE patients with the age of onset ≥20 (P = 0.033, PFDR = 0.0495, OR 2.09, additive model). This association remained significant after conditioning on DRB1*13:02 or DRB1*15:01. On the other hand, significant association was detected between rs1063320 C and anti-RNP antibody and anti-Sm antibody positive SLE, which was dependent on negative LD with DRB1*13:02. eQTL analysis showed reduced HLA-G mRNA level in 14bp ins/ins individuals. In conclusion, our observations showed that HLA-G 14bp ins allele represents a genetic contribution on early-onset SLE independent of DRB1.
PMCID: PMC4917238  PMID: 27331404
3.  Postmarketing surveillance of the safety and effectiveness of abatacept in Japanese patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Modern Rheumatology  2016;26(4):491-498.
Objective: To perform a postmarketing surveillance study evaluating the safety and effectiveness of abatacept in Japanese patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Safety and effectiveness data were collected for all RA patients (at 772 sites) treated with intravenous abatacept between September 2010 and June 2011. Patients were treated by the approved dosing regimen according to the package insert. Treatment effectiveness was evaluated at baseline and at weeks 4, 12, and 24 using Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS28) according to erythrocyte sedimentation rate or serum C-reactive protein concentrations.
Results: Overall, 3882 and 3016 abatacept-naïve RA patients were included in safety and effectiveness analyses, respectively. Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) were reported for 15.66% of patients and serious ADRs were detected for 2.52% of patients. The incidence of serious infections was 1.03% and these were mainly attributed to different types of bacterial pneumonia. Disease activity improved significantly over 6 months. Separate multivariate analysis identified predictors of severe ADR, and severe infections and factors predictive of clinically meaningful DAS28 improvement after 6 months of treatment with abatacept.
Conclusions: Abatacept was efficacious and well tolerated in a clinical setting. No new safety concerns were detected.
PMCID: PMC4898160  PMID: 26635183
Abatacept; Japan; PMS; Rheumatoid arthritis; Safety
4.  Effect of Methotrexate Plus Adalimumab on the Achievement of Rheumatoid Arthritis Therapeutic Goals: Post Hoc Analysis of Japanese Patients (MELODY Study) 
Rheumatology and Therapy  2015;3(1):129-141.
There is insufficient evidence regarding the appropriate dose of methotrexate (MTX) required to achieve specific treatment goals in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) receiving biologic drugs in Japan. The present study aimed to assess the dose–response effect of MTX in combination with adalimumab (ADA) to achieve low disease activity (LDA) and/or remission at 24 weeks in RA patients.
This analysis used data of the ADA all-case survey in Japan (n = 7740), and 5494 patients who received ADA and MTX were classified into five groups by weighted average MTX dose (>0–<4, 4–<6, 6–<8, 8–< 10, and ≥10 mg/week). Of the 5494 patients, 3097 with baseline 28-joint disease activity score based on erythrocyte sedimentation rate >3.2 were analyzed for effectiveness by MTX dose.
In biologic-naïve patients (n = 1996/3097), LDA/remission rates increased with MTX up to 6–<8 mg/week and then plateaued at higher doses (LDA, p = 0.0440; remission, p = 0.0422). In biologic-exposed patients (n = 1101/3097), LDA/remission rates increased with MTX dose (LDA, p = 0.0009; remission p = 0.0143). The incidences of serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and serious infections did not differ by MTX dose, but total ADRs and infections were significantly higher (p < 0.05) with increased MTX doses.
The appropriate MTX doses in combination with ADA to achieve LDA and/or remission at week 24 were different between biologic-naïve and biologic-exposed patients with RA, suggesting that 8 mg/week of MTX would be enough for biologic-naïve patients.
Trial Registration identifier, NCT01076959.
AbbVie and Eisai Co., Ltd.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s40744-015-0023-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4999573  PMID: 27747511
Adalimumab; Doses; Effectiveness; Methotrexate; Rheumatoid arthritis; Safety
5.  Different responses to treatment across classified diseases and severities in Japanese patients with microscopic polyangiitis and granulomatosis with polyangiitis: a nationwide prospective inception cohort study 
This study aims to elucidate the prognosis and the effectiveness of current treatments for Japanese patients with microscopic polyangiitis (MPA) and granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA).
Patients with newly diagnosed MPA and GPA were enrolled in a nationwide, prospective, inception cohort study from 22 tertiary Japanese institutions, and treatment patterns and responses were evaluated for 24 months. Primary outcome measures were rates of remission (Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score, 0) and remission with low-dose glucocorticoids (GC) (prednisolone ≤ 10 mg) (GC remission).
Of 156 enrolled patients, 78 MPA patients and 33 GPA patients were included. Concomitant cyclophosphamide (CY) was used in 24 MPA (31 %) and 20 GPA (60 %) patients during the initial 3 weeks of treatment. After 6 months, remission was achieved in 66 MPA (85 %) and 29 GPA (87 %) patients, while GC remission was obtained in only 31 MPA (40 %) and 13 GPA (39 %) patients. During the 24-month period, 14 MPA patients and 2 GPA patients died; end stage renal disease (ESRD) was noted in 13 MPA patients but no GPA patients. Patients with severe disease, according to the European Vasculitis Study Group (EUVAS) classification, showed poorer ESRD-free and overall survival rates than those with generalized disease (p < 0.0001). There were no differences in relapse-free survival rates between GPA and MPA, among EUVAS-defined disease severity categories, and between anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody subspecialties.
The majority of Japanese patients with MPA and GPA received treatment with high-dose GC and limited CY use, and showed high remission and relapse-free survival rates but low GC remission rates in clinical practice.
Trial registration
University Hospital Medical Information Network Clinical Trials Registry UMIN000001648. Registered 28 February 2009.
PMCID: PMC4630898  PMID: 26525413
Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis; Cyclophosphamide; Glucocorticoid; Granulomatosis with polyangiitis; Inception cohort; Microscopic polyangiitis; Prospective cohort
6.  Transcatheter Arterial Coil Embolization of Ruptured Common Hepatic Artery Aneurysm in a Patient with Behçet's Disease 
Case Reports in Radiology  2015;2015:790175.
Hepatic artery aneurysm is a rare and potentially life-threatening entity. We report a case of ruptured common hepatic artery aneurysm in a patient with Behçet's disease. The ruptured aneurysm was treated successfully with transcatheter arterial coil embolization. Transcatheter arterial embolization is the preferred treatment modality in patients at high risk of surgical intervention.
PMCID: PMC4364124  PMID: 25821623
7.  Inhibition of rheumatoid arthritis by blocking connective tissue growth factor 
World Journal of Orthopedics  2014;5(5):653-659.
The pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remains to be completely elucidated so far; however, it is known that proinflammatory cytokines play a pivotal role in the induction of RA. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), in particular, is considered to play a central role in bone destruction by mediating the abnormal activation of osteoclasts or the production of proteolytic enzymes through direct or indirect mechanisms. The use of TNF-α blocking agents has a significant impact on RA therapy. Anti-TNF-α blocking agents such as infliximab are very effective for treatment of RA, especially for the prevention of articular destruction. We have previously shown that several proteins exhibited extensive changes in their expression after amelioration of RA with infliximab treatment. Among the proteins, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) has a significant role for the development of RA. Herein, we review the function of CTGF in the pathogenesis of RA and discuss the possibility of a novel treatment for RA. We propose that CTGF is a potentially novel effector molecule in the pathogenesis of RA. Blocking the CTGF pathways by biological agents may have great beneficial effect in patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC4133473  PMID: 25405094
Connective tissue growth facto; Rheumatoid arthritis; Osteoclasts; Condrocytes; Tumor necrosis factor-α
8.  Association of Functional Polymorphisms in Interferon Regulatory Factor 2 (IRF2) with Susceptibility to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Case-Control Association Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109764.
Interferon regulatory factor 2 (IRF2) negatively regulates type I interferon (IFN) responses, while it plays a role in induction of Th1 differentiation. Previous linkage and association studies in European-American populations suggested genetic role of IRF2 in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); however, this observation has not yet been confirmed. No studies have been reported in the Asian populations. Here we investigated whether IRF2 polymorphisms contribute to susceptibility to SLE in a Japanese population. Association study of 46 IRF2 tag single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) detected association of an intronic SNP, rs13146124, with SLE. When the association was analyzed in 834 Japanese patients with SLE and 817 healthy controls, rs13146124 T was significantly increased in SLE compared with healthy controls (dominant model, P = 5.4×10−4, Bonferroni-corrected P [Pc] = 0.026, odds ratio [OR] 1.48, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.18–1.85). To find causal SNPs, resequencing was performed by next-generation sequencing. Twelve polymorphisms in linkage disequilibrium with rs13146124 (r2: 0.30–1.00) were identified, among which significant association was observed for rs66801661 (allele model, P = 7.7×10−4, Pc = 0.037, OR 1.53, 95%CI 1.19–1.96) and rs62339994 (dominant model, P = 9.0×10−4, Pc = 0.043, OR 1.46, 95%CI 1.17–1.82). The haplotype carrying both of the risk alleles (rs66801661A–rs62339994A) was significantly increased in SLE (P = 9.9×10−4), while the haplotype constituted by both of the non-risk alleles (rs66801661G–rs62339994G) was decreased (P = 0.0020). A reporter assay was carried out to examine the effect of the IRF2 haplotypes on the transcriptional activity, and association of the IRF2 risk haplotype with higher transcriptional activity was detected in Jurkat T cells under IFNγ stimulation (Tukey's test, P = 1.2×10−4). In conclusion, our observations supported the association of IRF2 with susceptibility to SLE, and the risk haplotype was suggested to be associated with transcriptional activation of IRF2.
PMCID: PMC4186848  PMID: 25285625
9.  Classification and characteristics of Japanese patients with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis in a nationwide, prospective, inception cohort study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(2):R101.
We investigated the clinical and serological features of patients with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV) in Japan using data from a nationwide, prospective, inception cohort study.
In total, 156 Japanese patients with newly diagnosed AAV were classified according to the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) algorithm with exploratory surrogate markers for AAV-related non-granulomatous pulmonary lesions, predefined as alveolar haemorrhage and interstitial lung disease (ILD), and their clinical and serological features were evaluated.
Using the EMEA algorithm, we identified 14 patients (9.0%) with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), 33 (21.2%) with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), 78 (50.0%) with microscopic polyangiitis and renal-limited vasculitis (MPA/RLV), and 31 (19.9%) with unclassifiable vasculitis. The average ages of patients with EGPA (male/female, 5/9), GPA (12/21), and MPA/RLV (35/43) and unclassifiable (9/22) were 58.0, 63.6, 71.1, and 70.6 years, respectively. Myeloperoxidase (MPO)-ANCA and proteinase-3 ANCA positivity was 50.0% and 0% for EGPA, 54.6% and 45.5% for GPA, 97.4% and 2.6% for MPA/RLV, and 93.5% and 3.2% for unclassifiable, respectively. According to the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score (BVAS), cutaneous (71.4%) and nervous system (92.9%) manifestations were prominent in EGPA and ear, nose, and throat manifestations (84.9%) and chest manifestations (66.7%) in GPA. Renal manifestations developed frequently in MPA/RLV (91.0%) and GPA (63.6%). The average serum creatinine levels were 0.71 mg/dL for EGPA, 1.51 mg/dL for GPA, 2.46 mg/dL for MPA/RLV, and 0.69 mg/dL for unclassifiable. The percentages of patients with ILD were 14.3% for EGPA, 9.0% for GPA, 47.4% for MPA/RLV, and 61.3% for unclassifiable. Patients with ILD (n = 61) had significantly lower BVAS (P = 0.019) with fewer ear, nose, and throat and cardiovascular manifestations than patients without ILD (n = 95).
MPO-ANCA-positive MPA/RLV is the most common form of AAV in Japanese patients, and one-half of patients with GPA were positive for MPO-ANCA. ILD is an important clinical manifestation in Japanese patients with AAV. Unclassifiable vasculitis with MPO-ANCA positivity and ILD may represent a novel variant of MPA.
Trial Registration
The University Hospital Medical Information Network Clinical Trials Registry: UMIN000001648. Registered 28 February 2009.
PMCID: PMC4060546  PMID: 24758294
10.  Usefulness of minor salivary gland biopsy in the diagnosis of IgG4-related disease: a case report 
Although considered essential for diagnosing IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD), biopsy of target organs is often difficult to perform. Such was the case of a 56-year-old man admitted with general malaise and weight loss. Computed tomography revealed swelling of the submandibular gland, mild dilatation of the main pancreatic duct, renal involvement, periaortitis, and swelling of the lymph nodes in the abdominal cavity. Laboratory testing revealed elevated serum IgG4 level. These findings were suggestive of IgG4-RD; however, the patient refused consent for biopsy of the target organs for a definitive diagnosis for the invasiveness. Therefore, we tried to perform a biopsy from minor salivary gland, which revealed no sign of clinical abnormality because the biopsy is not an invasive diagnostic procedure. As a result, the biopsy revealed significant IgG4-positive plasma cell infiltration, allowing for definitive IgG4-RD diagnosis. Administration of oral prednisolone (30 mg/day) effectively improved all symptoms. These findings indicate that minor salivary gland biopsy is an effective means of IgG4-RD diagnosis in patients for whom biopsy of target organs is difficult even if there were no sign of clinical abnormality in appearance.
PMCID: PMC4069935  PMID: 24966985
IgG4-related disease; Mikulicz’s disease; minor salivary gland; periaortitis; submandibular gland
11.  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
12.  The Multicenter Study of a New Assay for Simultaneous Detection of Multiple Anti-Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases in Myositis and Interstitial Pneumonia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85062.
Autoantibodies to aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARSs) are useful in the diagnosis of idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IIM) with interstitial pneumonia (IP). We developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) system using a mixture of recombinant ARS antigens and tested its utility in a multicenter study. Methods: We prepared six recombinant ARSs: GST-Jo-1, His-PL-12, His-EJ and GST-KS expressed in Escherichia coli, and His-PL-7 and His-OJ expressed in Hi-5 cells. After confirming their antigenic activity, with the exception of His-OJ, we developed our ELISA system in which the five recombinant ARSs (without His-OJ) were mixed. Efficiency was confirmed using the sera from 526 Japanese patients with connective tissue disease (CTD) (IIM n = 250, systemic lupus erythematosus n = 91, systemic sclerosis n = 70, rheumatoid arthritis n = 75, Sjögren’s syndrome n = 27 and other diseases n = 13), 168 with idiopathic interstitial pneumonia (IIP) and 30 healthy controls collected from eight institutes. IIPs were classified into two groups; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) (n = 38) and non-IPF (n = 130). Results were compared with those of RNA immunoprecipitation. Results: Sensitivity and specificity of the ELISA were 97.1% and 99.8%, respectively when compared with the RNA immunoprecipitation assay. Anti-ARS antibodies were detected in 30.8% of IIM, 2.5% of non-myositis CTD, and 10.7% of IIP (5.3% of IPF and 12.3% of non-IPF). Anti-ARS-positive non-IPF patients were younger and more frequently treated with glucocorticoids and/or immunosuppressants than anti-ARS-negative patients. Conclusion: A newly established ELISA detected anti-ARS antibodies as efficiently as RNA immunoprecipitation. This system will enable easier and wider use in the detection of anti-ARS antibodies in patients with IIM and IIP.
PMCID: PMC3891809  PMID: 24454792
13.  Serum Proteome Analysis in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Receiving Therapy with Tocilizumab: An Anti-Interleukin-6 Receptor Antibody 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:607137.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the synovial membrane that results in the destruction of bone and cartilage in affected joints. Tocilizumab is a biological agent and an anti-interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor monoclonal antibody that blocks IL-6-mediated inflammatory processes in RA patients. In order to identify novel disease-related proteins and candidate biomarkers, we analyzed the changes in the serum proteome profiles of patients with RA who were treated with tocilizumab. Serum samples were collected from the RA patients before and after tocilizumab treatment. Following immunodepletion of major proteins, the proteins were digested and labeled with isobaric tag, iTRAQ reagent. The proteins were identified and quantified using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Among a total of 311 proteins identified, seven were decreased and 16 were increased by tocilizumab treatment. Although some of the proteins are known to be related to RA, several are currently unknown with respect to their relationship to RA and may be involved in the development of this disease. This study is the first to perform a comparative serum proteomic analysis of RA patients treated with tocilizumab. Our results may contribute to the identification of novel disease-related proteins and enhance the understanding of the pathogenesis of RA.
PMCID: PMC3766614  PMID: 24058910
14.  A Genome-Wide Association Study Identified AFF1 as a Susceptibility Locus for Systemic Lupus Eyrthematosus in Japanese 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(1):e1002455.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that causes multiple organ damage. Although recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have contributed to discovery of SLE susceptibility genes, few studies has been performed in Asian populations. Here, we report a GWAS for SLE examining 891 SLE cases and 3,384 controls and multi-stage replication studies examining 1,387 SLE cases and 28,564 controls in Japanese subjects. Considering that expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) have been implicated in genetic risks for autoimmune diseases, we integrated an eQTL study into the results of the GWAS. We observed enrichments of cis-eQTL positive loci among the known SLE susceptibility loci (30.8%) compared to the genome-wide SNPs (6.9%). In addition, we identified a novel association of a variant in the AF4/FMR2 family, member 1 (AFF1) gene at 4q21 with SLE susceptibility (rs340630; P = 8.3×10−9, odds ratio = 1.21). The risk A allele of rs340630 demonstrated a cis-eQTL effect on the AFF1 transcript with enhanced expression levels (P<0.05). As AFF1 transcripts were prominently expressed in CD4+ and CD19+ peripheral blood lymphocytes, up-regulation of AFF1 may cause the abnormality in these lymphocytes, leading to disease onset.
Author Summary
Although recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) approaches have successfully contributed to disease gene discovery, many susceptibility loci are known to be still uncaptured due to strict significance threshold for multiple hypothesis testing. Therefore, prioritization of GWAS results by incorporating additional information is recommended. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that causes multiple organ damage. Considering that abnormalities in B cell activity play essential roles in SLE, prioritization based on an expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) study for B cells would be a promising approach. In this study, we report a GWAS and multi-stage replication studies for SLE examining 2,278 SLE cases and 31,948 controls in Japanese subjects. We integrated eQTL study into the results of the GWAS and identified AFF1 as a novel SLE susceptibility loci. We also confirmed cis-regulatory effect of the locus on the AFF1 transcript. Our study would be one of the initial successes for detecting novel genetic locus using the eQTL study, and it should contribute to our understanding of the genetic loci being uncaptured by standard GWAS approaches.
PMCID: PMC3266877  PMID: 22291604
15.  A Case of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia Purpura Associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Diagnostic Utility of ADAMTS-13 Activity 
Autoimmune Diseases  2011;2011:483642.
Thrombotic thrombocytopenia purpura (TTP) caused by a deficiency in ADAMTS-13 activity is considered to involve a subset of thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA). Although concept of TTP is included under the umbrella of TMA, discrimination of TTP from TMA is occasionally difficult in an autoimmune disorder. Herein, we report a case with TTP associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In this case, it was difficult to discriminate TTP from TMA and the measurement of ADAMTS-13 activity was useful for obtaining an accurate diagnosis. SLE patients having thrombocytopenia in complication with anemia should be considered a monitoring of ADAMTS-13 activity even though the patients lacked symptoms of TTP related to the microvascular coagulation.
PMCID: PMC3138087  PMID: 21776377
16.  Anti-T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-2 monoclonal antibody exacerbates collagen-induced arthritis by stimulating B cells 
T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-2 (TIM-2) has been shown to regulate CD4 T cell activation. However, the role of TIM-2 in the autoimmune disease models has not been clarified yet. In this study, we investigated the effects of anti-TIM-2 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) to determine whether TIM-2 contributes to the development of T helper (Th) 1 or Th17 cells and joint inflammation.
DBA/1 mice were treated with anti-TIM-2 mAbs during the early or late phase of CIA. Type II collagen (CII)-specific CD4 T-cell proliferative response and cytokine production were assessed from lymph node cell culture. The serum levels of CII-specific antibody were measured by ELISA. The expression of TIM-2 on CD4 T cells or B cells was determined by flow cytometric analysis.
Administration of anti-TIM-2 mAbs in early phase, but not late phase, significantly exacerbated the development of CIA. Although anti-TIM-2 mAbs treatment did not affect the development of Th1 or Th17 cells in the draining lymph node, the serum levels of anti-CII antibodies were significantly increased in the anti-TIM-2-treated mice. TIM-2 expression was found on splenic B cells and further up-regulated by anti-immunoglobulin (Ig)M, anti-CD40, and interleukin(IL)-4 stimulation. In contrast, CD4 T cells did not express TIM-2 even when stimulated with both anti-CD3 and anti-CD28 mAbs. Interestingly, anti-TIM-2 mAbs enhanced proliferation and antibody production of activated B cells in vitro.
TIM-2 signaling influences both proliferation and antibody production of B cells during the early phase of CIA, but not induction of Th1 or Th17 cells.
PMCID: PMC3132034  PMID: 21426565
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  Inhibitory effects of ZSTK474, a novel phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, on osteoclasts and collagen-induced arthritis in mice 
Targeting joint destruction induced by osteoclasts (OCs) is critical for management of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Since phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K) plays a critical role in osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption, we examined the effects of ZSTK474, a novel phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-K)-specific inhibitor, on murine OCs in vitro and in vivo.
The inhibitory effect of ZSTK474 on OC formation was determined and compared with other PI3-K inhibitors by counting tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP)-positive multinucleated cells after culturing murine bone marrow monocytic OC precursors, and RAW264.7 cells. Activation of Akt and expression of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) c1 in cultured RAW264.7 cells were examined. The suppressing effect of ZSTK474 on bone resorption was assessed by the pit formation assay. The in vivo effects of ZSTK474 were studied in collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in the mouse. Oral daily administration of ZSTK474 was started either when more than half or when all mice developed arthritis. Effects of ZSTK474 were evaluated using the arthritis score and histological score of the hind paws.
ZSTK474 inhibited the differentiation of bone marrow OC precursors and RAW264.7 cells in a dose-dependent manner. The inhibitory effect of ZSTK474 was much stronger than that of LY294002, the most commonly used PI3-K inhibitor. In addition, ZSTK474 suppressed the bone resorbing activity of mature OCs. Moreover, oral daily administration of ZSTK474, even when begun after the development of arthritis, ameliorated CIA in mice without apparent toxicity. Histological examination of the hind paw demonstrated noticeable reduction of inflammation and of cartilage destruction in ZSTK474-treated mice. ZSTK474 also significantly decreased OC formation adjacent to the tarsal bone of the hind paw.
These findings suggest that inhibition of PI3-K with ZSTK474 may potentially suppress synovial inflammation and bone destruction in patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC2911876  PMID: 20482767
21.  Autoantibody to NA14 is an independent marker primarily for Sjögren’s syndrome 
Nuclear Autoantigen of 14 kDa (NA14) was originally identified using the serum of a Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) patient as probe in screening a human testis cDNA expression library. To date there is no report in the systematic analysis of the prevalence of autoantibodies to NA14. In this study, anti-NA14 was determined in several rheumatic diseases from independent cohorts in the US and Japan. The prevalence of anti-NA14 were 18/132 (13.6%) in primary SS, 0/50 (0%) secondary SS, 2/100 (2%) SLE, 1/43 (2.3%) scleroderma, 0/54 (0%) rheumatoid arthritis, 1/29 (3.4%) polymyositis/dermatomyositis, and 0/58 (0%) normal healthy controls. The frequencies of anti-NA14 positive sera in primary SS are statistically greater than normal healthy controls (p=0.006), secondary SS (p=0.044), and other rheumatic diseases. Furthermore, among 11 anti-NA14 positive primary SS sera, 4/11 (36.3%) sera were negative for both anti-SS-A/Ro and SS-B/La antibodies. Thus anti-NA14 autoantibodies may be useful for the discrimination of primary versus secondary SS and serve as a diagnostic marker for primary SS especially in seronegative (anti-SS-A/Ro and anti-SS-B/La antibodies negative) patients with SS.
PMCID: PMC2864436  PMID: 19273306
NA14; Sjögren’s syndrome; Autoantigen; Autoantibody; Coiled-Coil Protein; Review
22.  Co-clustering of Golgi complex and other cytoplasmic organelles to crescentic region of half-moon nuclei during apoptosis 
Cell biology international  2008;33(2):148-157.
Early apoptosis is defined by stereotypic morphological changes, especially evident in the nucleus, where chromatin condenses and compacts, and assumes a globular, half-moon or crescent-shaped morphology. Accumulating evidence suggests that cytoplasmic organelles such as mitochondria and the Golgi complex are major sites of integration of pro-apoptotic signaling. In this study, cytoplasmic organelles including Golgi complex, mitochondria, endosomes, lysosomes, and peroxisomes were shown to condense at the same unique region adjacent to the crescentic nucleus during a relatively early stage of apoptosis induced by staurosporine or other agents. The co-clustering phenomenon may be caused by shrinkage of cytoplasm during apoptosis although cytoskeletal markers actin and tubulin were not condensed and appeared excluded. These data suggest the co-clustering of cytoplasmic organelles plays an interesting role during the progression of the apoptotic process. It is possible that modification of pro-apoptotic proteins may arise as a result of the interplay of these cytoplasmic organelles.
PMCID: PMC2667205  PMID: 19000931
Apoptosis; Golgi complex; Staurosporine
23.  Synchronous malignant B-cell lymphoma and gastric tubular adenocarcinoma associated with paraneoplastic cutaneous vasculitis: hypereosinophilic syndrome with mixed cryoglobulinemia is an important sign of paraneoplastic syndrome 
Rare Tumors  2009;1(2):e42.
Gastric adenocarcinoma developing concomitantly with a lymphoma is rare. Furthermore, B-cell lymphoma, originating from lymph nodes, with eosinophilia is extremely rare. We report here a case with a synchronous diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and an early adenocarcinoma of the stomach. In addition, this case seemed to be associated with paraneoplastic cutaneous vasculitis caused by hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES) with mixed cryoglobulinemia (MC). Many neoplastic diseases that affect internal organs display cutaneous manifestations, which may be the presenting signs and symptoms of the underlying malignancy. In particular, the association between cutaneous vasculitis and malignancy has been widely reviewed, and recently neoplasms have been suggested to produce antigens and the resultant immune complex formations, activating the serum complement, thus cause paraneoplastic vasculitis. In this case, severe eosinophilia and cryoglobulinemia with low complements were observed in a laboratory test. A biopsy specimen from a skin lesion revealed leukocytoclastic vasculitis with severe perivascular infiltration of eosinophils. The cutaneous vasuculitis was considered to be a manifestation of HES with MC, although there were no etiological factors of HES and MC. Therefore, the vasculitis seems to be a symptom of paraneoplastic syndrome in this case. Our finding suggests that the potential presence of malignancies should be kept in mind as a possible underlying disorder especially in the presence of HES with MC; this possibility is interesting also as regards at least part of the pathogenesis for paraneplastic syndrome.
PMCID: PMC2994459  PMID: 21139921
cryoglobulinemia; malignant lymphoma; paraneoplastic vasculitis; tubular adenocarcinoma.
24.  Connective tissue growth factor promotes articular damage by increased osteoclastogenesis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R174.
A protein analysis using a mass spectrometry indicated that there are serum proteins showing significant quantitative changes after the administration of infliximab. Among them, connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) seems to be related to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Therefore, this study was conducted to investigate how CTGF is associated with the disease progression of RA.
Serum samples were collected from RA patients in active or inactive disease stages, and before or after treatments with infliximab. CTGF production was evaluated by ELISA, RT-PCR, indirect immunofluorescence microscopy, and immunoblotting. Osteoclastogenesis was evaluated using tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining, a bone resorption assay and osteoclasts specific catalytic enzymes productions.
The serum concentrations of CTGF in RA were greater than in normal healthy controls and disease controls. Interestingly, those were significantly higher in active RA patients compared to inactive RA patients. Furthermore, the CTGF levels significantly were decreased by infliximab concomitant with the disease amelioration. In addition, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α can induce the CTGF production from synovial fibroblasts even though TNFα can oppositely inhibit the production of CTGF from chondrocytes. CTGF promoted the induction of the quantitative and qualitative activities of osteoclasts in combination with M-CSF and receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL). In addition, we newly found integrin αVβ3 on the osteoclasts as a CTGF receptor.
These results indicate that aberrant CTGF production induced by TNFα plays a central role for the abnormal osteoclastic activation in RA patients. Restoration of aberrant CTGF production may contribute to the inhibition of articular destruction in infliximab treatment.
PMCID: PMC3003536  PMID: 19922639
25.  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

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