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1.  Primary immunodeficiency in infection-prone children in southern Sweden: occurrence, clinical characteristics and immunological findings 
BMC Immunology  2014;15(1):31.
Primary immunodeficiency diseases (PIDs) comprise a heterogeneous group of disorders mainly characterized by increased susceptibility to infections. The aims of this study were to estimate the occurrence rate of PID in the paediatric (age ≤ 18 years) population of southern Sweden (approx. 265,000 children) and to describe their demographic, clinical and immunological characteristics. During a period of 4 years, in four paediatric speciality clinics in Skåne County in southern Sweden, children being seen for infections and fulfilling specific criteria were evaluated according to a predefined examination schedule. The initial analysis consisted of complete blood counts with analysis of lymphocyte subpopulations (T, B, NK cells), measurement of immunoglobulins (IgG, IgA, IgM, IgE and IgG subclasses), and assessment of the complement system (classical, alternative and lectin pathways). In addition, results of these immunological analyses in other children from the same area and time period were evaluated.
In total, 259 children (53.6% males) met the criteria and were included. The most common infection was recurrent otitis media. Immunological analyses results for about two thirds of the patients were outside age-related reference intervals. Further examination in this latter group identified 15 children with PID (9 males); 7 (2.7%) had genetically defined PID, representing 4 different diagnoses, and another 8 (3.1%) had a clinically defined PID - common variable immunodeficiency. No additional PID patient was identified from the evaluation of laboratory results in children not included in the study. The median age at diagnosis was 3.5 years (range 1–12 years).
The occurrence rate of PID was about 4 new cases per year in this population. Several different PID diagnoses were found, and the application of specified criteria to identify PID patients was useful. In children who are prone to infection, the use of a predefined set of immunological laboratory analyses at their first examination was beneficial for early identification of patients with PID.
PMCID: PMC4159572  PMID: 25318568
Children; Complement; Immunodeficiency; Immunoglobulin; Immunoglobulin subclass; Lymphocyte
2.  Platelet Activation and Anti-Phospholipid Antibodies Collaborate in the Activation of the Complement System on Platelets in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99386.
Anti-phospholipid (aPL) antibodies are important contributors to development of thrombosis in patients with the autoimmune rheumatic disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The underlying mechanism of aPL antibody-mediated thrombosis is not fully understood but existing data suggest that platelets and the complement system are key components. Complement activation on platelets is seen in SLE patients, especially in patients with aPL antibodies, and has been related to venous thrombosis and stroke. The aim of this study was to investigate if aPL antibodies could support classical pathway activation on platelets in vitro as well as in SLE patients. Furthermore, we investigated if complement deposition on platelets was associated with vascular events, either arterial or venous, when the data had been adjusted for traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Finally, we analyzed if platelet complement deposition, both C1q and C4d, was specific for SLE. We found that aPL antibodies supported C4d deposition on platelets in vitro as well as in SLE patients (p = 0.001 and p<0.05, respectively). Complement deposition on platelets was increased in SLE patients when compared with healthy individuals (p<0.0001). However, high levels of C4d deposition and a pronounced C1q deposition were also seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis. In SLE, C4d deposition on platelets was associated with platelet activation, complement consumption, disease activity and venous (OR = 5.3, p = 0.02), but not arterial, thrombosis, observations which were independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. In conclusion, several mechanisms operate in SLE to amplify platelet complement deposition, of which aPL antibodies and platelet activation were identified as important contributors in this investigation. Complement deposition on platelets was identified as a marker of venous, but not arterial thrombosis, in SLE patients independently of traditional risk factors and aPL antibodies. Further studies are needed to elucidate the role of complement deposition on platelets in development of venous thrombosis.
PMCID: PMC4055750  PMID: 24922069
3.  Serological Assessment for Celiac Disease in IgA Deficient Adults 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93180.
Selective immunoglobulin A deficiency is the most common primary immunodeficiency disorder that is strongly overrepresented among patients with celiac disease (CD). IgG antibodies against tissue transglutaminase (tTG) and deamidated gliadin peptides (DGP) serve as serological markers for CD in IgA deficient individuals, although the diagnostic value remains uncertain. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of these markers in a large cohort of IgA deficient adults with confirmed or suspected CD and relate the findings to gluten free diet.
Sera from 488,156 individuals were screened for CD in seven Swedish clinical immunology laboratories between 1998 and 2012. In total, 356 out of 1,414 identified IgA deficient adults agreed to participate in this study and were resampled. Forty-seven IgA deficient blood donors served as controls. Analyses of IgG antibodies against tTG and DGP as well as HLA typing were performed and a questionnaire was used to investigate adherence to gluten free diet. Available biopsy results were collected.
Out of the 356 IgA deficient resampled adults, 67 (18.8%) were positive for IgG anti-tTG and 79 (22.2%) for IgG anti-DGP, 54 had biopsy confirmed CD. Among the 47 IgA deficient blood donors, 4 (9%) were positive for IgG anti-tTG and 8 (17%) for anti-DGP. Four were diagnosed with biopsy verified CD, however, 2 of the patients were negative for all markers. Sixty-eight of 69 individuals with positive IgG anti-tTG were HLA-DQ2/DQ8 positive whereas 7 (18.9%) of the 37 individuals positive for IgG anti-DGP alone were not.
IgG anti-tTG seems to be a more reliable marker for CD in IgA deficient adults whereas the diagnostic specificity of anti-DGP appears to be lower. High levels of IgG antibodies against tTG and DGP were frequently found in IgA deficient adults despite adhering to gluten free diet.
PMCID: PMC3977834  PMID: 24709954
4.  Clinical phenotype associations with various types of anti-dsDNA antibodies in patients with recent onset of rheumatic symptoms. Results from a multicentre observational study 
Lupus Science & Medicine  2014;1(1):e000007.
Despite anti-dsDNA antibodies constitute a wide range of specificities, they are considered as the hallmark for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
To identify clinical phenotypes associated with anti-dsDNA antibodies, independently of any clinical diagnoses.
Patients with recent onset of any rheumatic symptoms were screened for antinuclear antibodies (ANA). All ANA-positive and matching ANA-negative patients were examined, and their clinical phenotypes were registered, using a systematic chart formulated after consensus between the participating centres. All patients were tested for different anti-dsDNA antibody specificities with assays habitually used in each participating laboratory. Crithidia Luciliae Immuno Fluorescence Test (CLIFT) was performed three times (with two different commercial kits); solid and solution phase ELISA were performed four times. Associations between clinical phenotypes and results of anti-dsDNA assays were evaluated by linear regression analysis (LRA) and principal component analysis (PCA).
Totally, 292 ANA-positive and 292 matching ANA-negative patients were included in the study. A full dataset for statistical analysis was obtained in 547 patients. Anti-dsDNA antibodies were most frequently detected by ELISA. LRA showed that overall positivity of anti-dsDNA antibodies was associated with proteinuria and pleuritis. Alopecia was significantly associated only with CLIFT-positivity. Besides confirming the same findings, PCA showed that combined positivity of CLIFT and ELISA was also associated with lymphopenia.
Our results show that different anti-dsDNA antibody specificities are associated with nephropathy, pleuritis, alopecia and lymphopenia, regardless of the diagnosis. It may challenge the importance of anti-dsDNA antibodies as a diagnostic hallmark for SLE.
PMCID: PMC4225731  PMID: 25396058
Autoantibodies; Autoimmunity; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Lupus Nephritis; Autoimmune Diseases
5.  Rituximab and abatacept but not tocilizumab impair antibody response to pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R171.
The objective of the study was to investigate the impact of newer biologic treatments including rituximab, abatacept and tocilizumab on antibody response following pneumococcal vaccination using a 7-valent conjugate vaccine in patients with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients with RA receiving rituximab, abatacept or tocilizumab as monotherapy or combined with methotrexate (MTX) participated in the study. Specific IgG antibodies against 23F and 6B serotypes were measured at vaccination and 4 to 6 weeks after vaccination using standardised ELISA. Geometric mean antibody levels (GML) were calculated. Antibody response (AR) was defined as the ratio between post- and pre-vaccination antibody levels and a positive antibody response (posAR) was AR ≥2.
In total, 88 patients were enrolled in the study. Of 55 patients treated with rituximab, 26 (46%) were on concomitant MTX. Of patients receiving abatacept (n = 17) and tocilizumab (n = 16) biologic treatment was given in combination with MTX in 13 (76%) and 9 (56%) patients, respectively. Patients treated with rituximab had significantly lower AR compared to those on tocilizumab, as well as compared to previously reported RA patients on MTX and controls (spondylarthropathy patients treated with NSAIDs and/or analgesics). In total, 10.3% of patients on rituximab monotherapy and no patient on rituximab + MTX had posAR for both serotypes. For abatacept and tocilizumab the corresponding figures were 17.6% and 50%.
In this cohort of patients with established RA, treatment with rituximab and abatacept was associated with diminished antibody response but this was most pronounced for rituximab. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine administrated during ongoing tocilizumab treatment seems to be associated with sufficient antibody response. Pneumococcal vaccination should preferably be encouraged before initiation of rituximab or abatacept treatment.
Trial registration
NCT00828997 and EudraCT EU 2007-006539-29.
PMCID: PMC3978887  PMID: 24286269
6.  Genes identified in Asian SLE GWASs are also associated with SLE in Caucasian populations 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) conducted in Asian populations have identified novel risk loci for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Here, we genotyped 10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in eight such loci and investigated their disease associations in three independent Caucasian SLE case–control cohorts recruited from Sweden, Finland and the United States. The disease associations of the SNPs in ETS1, IKZF1, LRRC18-WDFY4, RASGRP3, SLC15A4, TNIP1 and 16p11.2 were replicated, whereas no solid evidence of association was observed for the 7q11.23 locus in the Caucasian cohorts. SLC15A4 was significantly associated with renal involvement in SLE. The association of TNIP1 was more pronounced in SLE patients with renal and immunological disorder, which is corroborated by two previous studies in Asian cohorts. The effects of all the associated SNPs, either conferring risk for or being protective against SLE, were in the same direction in Caucasians and Asians. The magnitudes of the allelic effects for most of the SNPs were also comparable across different ethnic groups. On the contrary, remarkable differences in allele frequencies between Caucasian and Asian populations were observed for all associated SNPs. In conclusion, most of the novel SLE risk loci identified by GWASs in Asian populations were also associated with SLE in Caucasian populations. We observed both similarities and differences with respect to the effect sizes and risk allele frequencies across ethnicities.
PMCID: PMC3746253  PMID: 23249952
systemic lupus erythematosus; genetic-association study; Asian; Caucasian
7.  Sensitive and specific assays for C3 nephritic factors clarify mechanisms underlying complement dysregulation 
Kidney International  2012;82(10):1084-1092.
C3 nephritic factors are autoantibodies that prolong the half-life or prevent regulation of the alternative pathway C3 convertase, resulting in uncontrolled complement activation. They are strongly associated with renal disease but their role in pathogenesis remains controversial. Here we optimized and compared a panel of assays to identify and interrogate nephritic factor activities. Of 101 patients with histologic or clinically evident disease, 48 were positive in some or all assays. In the presence of properdin, binding of autoantibody was detected in 39 samples and convertase stabilization was detected in 36. Forty-two of 48 nephritic factors tested prevented convertase decay by factor H, and most of these by decay accelerating factor (28) and complement receptor 1 (34). Representative properdin-independent nephritic factors had no effect on C5 cleavage and terminal pathway activity, while properdin-dependent nephritic factors enhanced activity. Biacore analysis of four purified IgG samples confirmed resistance to decay and showed that properdin-independent nephritic factors increased convertase half-life over 50-fold, whereas properdin-dependent nephritic factors increased the half-life 10- to 20-fold and also increased activity of the C3 convertase up to 10-fold. Thus, our study provides a rational approach to detect and characterize nephritic factors in patients.
PMCID: PMC3608896  PMID: 22854646
alternative pathway; complement; convertase; nephritic factor
8.  Persistence of antibody response 1.5 years after vaccination using 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in patients with arthritis treated with different antirheumatic drugs 
The aim of this study was to explore the persistence of an antibody response 1.5 years after vaccination with 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or spondyloarthropathy (SpA) treated with different antirheumatic drugs.
Of 505 patients initially recruited, data on current antirheumatic treatment and blood samples were obtained from 398 (79%) subjects after mean (SD, range) 1.4 (0.5; 1 to 2) years. Antibody levels against pneumococcal serotypes 23F and 6B were analyzed by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Original treatment groups were as follows: (a) RA receiving methotrexate (MTX); (b) RA taking anti-TNF monotherapy; (c) RA taking anti-TNF+MTX; (d) SpA with anti-TNF monotherapy; (e) SpA taking anti-TNF+MTX; and (f) SpA taking NSAID/analgesics. Geometric mean levels (GMLs; 95% CI) and proportion (percentage) of patients with putative protective antibody levels ≥1 mg/L for both serotypes, calculated in different treatment groups, were compared with results 4 to 6 weeks after vaccination. Patients remaining on initial treatment were included in the analysis. Possible predictors of persistence of protective antibody response were analysed by using logistic regression analysis.
Of 398 patients participating in the 1.5-year follow up, 302 patients (RA, 163, and SpA, 139) had unchanged medication. Compared with postvaccination levels at 1.5 years, GMLs for each serotype were significantly lower in all groups (P between 0.035 and <0.001; paired-sample t test), as were the proportions of patients with protective antibody levels for both serotypes (P < 0.001; χ2 test). Higher prevaccination antibody levels for both serotypes 23F and 6B were associated with better persistence of protective antibodies (P < 0.001). Compared with patients with protective antibody levels at 1.5 years, those not having protective antibody levels were older, more often women, had longer disease duration and higher HAQ and DAS, and had a lower proportion of initial responders to both serotypes.
Concomitant anti-TNF treatment and MTX were identified as negative predictors of the persistence of protective antibodies among RA patients (P = 0.024 and P = 0.065, respectively). Only age 65 years or older (P = 0.017) and not antirheumatic treatment was found to be a negative predictor of protective antibodies in patients with SpA.
After initial increase, 1.5 years after pneumococcal vaccination with 7-valent conjugate vaccine, postvaccination antibody levels decreased significantly, reaching levels before vaccination in this cohort of patients with established arthritis treated with different antirheumatic drugs. MTX and anti-TNF treatment predicted low persistence of protective immunity among patients with RA. To boost antibody response, early revaccination with conjugate vaccine might be needed in patients receiving potent immunosuppressive remedies.
Trial registration number
EudraCT EU 2007-006539-29 and NCT00828997.
PMCID: PMC3672713  PMID: 23286772
9.  The effect of smoking and alcohol consumption on markers of systemic inflammation, immunoglobulin levels and immune response following pneumococcal vaccination in patients with arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(4):R170.
The purpose of this research was to study the influence of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption on immune response to heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, immunoglobulin levels (Ig) and markers of systemic inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or spondylarthropathy (SpA).
In total, 505 patients were vaccinated. Six pre-specified groups were enrolled: RA on methotrexate (MTX) treatment in some cases other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) (I); RA on anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) as monotherapy (II); RA on anti-TNF+MTX+ possibly other DMARDs (III); SpA on anti-TNF as monotherapy (IV); SpA on anti-TNF+MTX+ possibly other DMARDs (V); and SpA on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and/or analgesics (VI). Smoking (pack-years) and alcohol consumption (g/week) were calculated from patient questionnaires. Ig, C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) were determined at vaccination. IgG antibodies against serotypes 23F and 6B were measured at vaccination and after four to six weeks using standard ELISA. Immune response (ratio between post- and pre-vaccination antibodies; immune response (IR)) and positive immune response (≥2-fold increase in pre-vaccination antibodies; posIR) were calculated.
Eighty-eight patients (17.4%) were current smokers. Smokers had higher CRP and ESR, lower IgG and lower IR for both serotypes (P between 0.012 and 0.045). RA patients on MTX who smoked ≥1pack-year had lower posIR for both serotypes (P = 0.021; OR 0.29; CI 0.1 to 0.7) compared to never-smokers. Alcohol consumption was associated with lower CRP (P = 0.05) and ESR (P = 0.003) but did not influence IR or Ig levels.
Smoking predicted impaired immune response to pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in RA patients on MTX. Smokers with arthritis had higher inflammatory markers and lower IgG regardless of diagnosis and treatment. Low to moderate alcohol consumption was related to lower levels of inflammation markers but had no impact on immune response.
Trial registration
EudraCT EU 2007-006539-29 and NCT00828997
PMCID: PMC3580564  PMID: 22824238
10.  Fine Mapping and Conditional Analysis Identify a New Mutation in the Autoimmunity Susceptibility Gene BLK that Leads to Reduced Half-Life of the BLK Protein 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;71(7):1219-1226.
To perform fine mapping of the autoimmunity susceptibility gene BLK and identify functional variants involved in SLE.
Genotyping of 1163 European SLE patients and 1482 controls and imputation were performed covering the BLK gene with 158 SNPs. Logistic regression analysis was done using PLINK and conditional analyses using GENABEL’s test score. Transfections of BLK constructs on HEK293 cells containing the novel mutation or the wild-type form were made to analyse their effect on protein half-life using a protein stability assay, cycloheximide and Western blot. CHiP-qPCR for NFkB binding.
Fine mapping of BLK identified two independent genetic effects with functional consequences: one represented by two tightly linked associated haplotype blocks significantly enriched for NFκB-binding sites and numerous putative regulatory variants whose risk alleles correlated with low BLK mRNA levels. Binding of NFkBp50 and p65 to an associated 1.2Kb haplotype segment was confirmed. A second independent genetic effect was represented by an Ala71Thr, low-frequency missense substitution with an OR = 2.31 (95% c.i. 1.38–3.86). The 71Thr decreased BLK protein half-life.
Our results show that rare and common regulatory variants in BLK are involved in disease susceptibility and both, albeit independently lead to reduced levels of BLK protein.
PMCID: PMC3375585  PMID: 22696686
systemic lupus erythematosus; autoimmunity; genetics; polymorphism; B-cells; autoantibodies; B-lymphocyte tyrosine kinase
11.  Mutations in genes encoding complement inhibitors CD46 and CFH affect the age at nephritis onset in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R206.
Inherited deficiencies of several complement components strongly predispose to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) while deficiencies of complement inhibitors are found in kidney diseases such as atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).
The exons of complement inhibitor genes CD46 and CFH (factor H) were fully sequenced using the Sanger method in SLE patients with nephritis originating from two cohorts from southern and mid Sweden (n = 196). All identified mutations and polymorphisms were then analyzed in SLE patients without nephritis (n = 326) and in healthy controls (n = 523).
We found nonsynonymous, heterozygous mutations in CFH in 6.1% patients with nephritis, in comparison with 4.0% and 5.4% in patients without nephritis and controls, respectively. No associations of SLE or nephritis with common variants in CFH (V62I/Y402H/E936D) were found. Furthermore, we found two nonsynonymous heterozygous mutations in CD46 in SLE patients but not in controls. The A353V polymorphism, known to affect function of CD46, was found in 6.6% of nephritis patients versus 4.9% and 6.1% of the non-nephritis SLE patients and controls. The presence of mutations in CD46 and CFH did not predispose to SLE or nephritis but was associated with earlier onset of nephritis. Furthermore, we found weak indications that there is one protective and one risk haplotype predisposing to nephritis composed of several polymorphisms in noncoding regions of CD46, which were previously implicated in aHUS.
SLE nephritis is not associated with frequent mutations in CFH and CD46 as found in aHUS but these may be modifying factors causing earlier onset of nephritis.
PMCID: PMC3334659  PMID: 22171659
12.  Selective IgA Deficiency in Autoimmune Diseases 
Molecular Medicine  2011;17(11-12):1383-1396.
Selective immunoglobulin A deficiency (IgAD) is the most common primary immunodeficiency in Caucasians. It has previously been suggested to be associated with a variety of concomitant autoimmune diseases. In this review, we present data on the prevalence of IgAD in patients with Graves disease (GD), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), type 1 diabetes (T1D), celiac disease (CD), myasthenia gravis (MG) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on the basis of both our own recent large-scale screening results and literature data. Genetic factors are important for the development of both IgAD and various autoimmune disorders, including GD, SLE, T1D, CD, MG and RA, and a strong association with the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region has been reported. In addition, non-MHC genes, such as interferon-induced helicase 1 (IFIH1) and c-type lectin domain family 16, member A (CLEC16A), are also associated with the development of IgAD and some of the above diseases. This indicates a possible common genetic background. In this review, we present suggestive evidence for a shared genetic predisposition between these disorders.
PMCID: PMC3321806  PMID: 21826374
13.  Protein synthesis of the pro-inflammatory S100A8/A9 complex in plasmacytoid dendritic cells and cell surface S100A8/A9 on leukocyte subpopulations in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with chronic or episodic inflammation in many different organ systems, activation of leukocytes and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The heterodimer of the cytosolic calcium-binding proteins S100A8 and S100A9 (S100A8/A9) is secreted by activated polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) and monocytes and serves as a serum marker for several inflammatory diseases. Furthermore, S100A8 and S100A9 have many pro-inflammatory properties such as binding to Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). In this study we investigated if aberrant cell surface S100A8/A9 could be seen in SLE and if plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) could synthesize S100A8/A9.
Flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and real-time PCR of flow cytometry-sorted cells were used to measure cell surface S100A8/A9, intracellular S100A8/A9 and mRNA levels of S100A8 and S100A9, respectively.
Cell surface S100A8/A9 was detected on all leukocyte subpopulations investigated except for T cells. By confocal microscopy, real-time PCR and stimulation assays, we could demonstrate that pDCs, monocytes and PMNs could synthesize S100A8/A9. Furthermore, pDC cell surface S100A8/A9 was higher in patients with active disease as compared to patients with inactive disease. Upon immune complex stimulation, pDCs up-regulated the cell surface S100A8/A9. SLE patients had also increased serum levels of S100A8/A9.
Patients with SLE had increased cell surface S100A8/A9, which could be important in amplification and persistence of inflammation. Importantly, pDCs were able to synthesize S100A8/A9 proteins and up-regulate the cell surface expression upon immune complex-stimulation. Thus, S100A8/A9 may be a potent target for treatment of inflammatory diseases such as SLE.
PMCID: PMC3132055  PMID: 21492422
14.  A candidate gene study of the type I interferon pathway implicates IKBKE and IL8 as risk loci for SLE 
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the type I interferon pathway has a crucial role. We have previously shown that three genes in this pathway, IRF5, TYK2 and STAT4, are strongly associated with risk for SLE. Here, we investigated 78 genes involved in the type I interferon pathway to identify additional SLE susceptibility loci. First, we genotyped 896 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in these 78 genes and 14 other candidate genes in 482 Swedish SLE patients and 536 controls. Genes with P<0.01 in the initial screen were then followed up in 344 additional Swedish patients and 1299 controls. SNPs in the IKBKE, TANK, STAT1, IL8 and TRAF6 genes gave nominal signals of association with SLE in this extended Swedish cohort. To replicate these findings we extracted data from a genomewide association study on SLE performed in a US cohort. Combined analysis of the Swedish and US data, comprising a total of 2136 cases and 9694 controls, implicates IKBKE and IL8 as SLE susceptibility loci (Pmeta=0.00010 and Pmeta=0.00040, respectively). STAT1 was also associated with SLE in this cohort (Pmeta=3.3 × 10−5), but this association signal appears to be dependent of that previously reported for the neighbouring STAT4 gene. Our study suggests additional genes from the type I interferon system in SLE, and highlights genes in this pathway for further functional analysis.
PMCID: PMC3060320  PMID: 21179067
systemic lupus erythematosus; type I interferon system; candidate gene study; single nucleotide polymorphism; IKBKE; IL8
15.  Recombinant human complement component C2 produced in a human cell line restores the classical complement pathway activity in-vitro: an alternative treatment for C2 deficiency diseases 
BMC Immunology  2010;11:43.
Complement C2 deficiency is the most common genetically determined complete complement deficiency and is associated with a number of diseases. Most prominent are the associations with recurrent serious infections in young children and the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in adults. The links with these diseases reflect the important role complement C2 plays in both innate immunity and immune tolerance. Infusions with normal fresh frozen plasma for the treatment of associated disease have demonstrated therapeutic effects but so far protein replacement therapy has not been evaluated.
Human complement C2 was cloned and expressed in a mammalian cell line. The purity of recombinant human C2 (rhC2) was greater than 95% and it was characterized for stability and activity. It was sensitive to C1s cleavage and restored classical complement pathway activity in C2-deficient serum both in a complement activation ELISA and a hemolytic assay. Furthermore, rhC2 could increase C3 fragment deposition on the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae in C2-deficient serum to levels equal to those with normal serum.
Taken together these data suggest that recombinant human C2 can restore classical complement pathway activity and may serve as a potential therapeutic for recurring bacterial infections or SLE in C2-deficient patients.
PMCID: PMC2931460  PMID: 20727163
16.  Toll-Like Receptor 4 Promoter Polymorphisms: Common TLR4 Variants May Protect against Severe Urinary Tract Infection 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10734.
Polymorphisms affecting Toll-like receptor (TLR) structure appear to be rare, as would be expected due to their essential coordinator role in innate immunity. Here, we assess variation in TLR4 expression, rather than structure, as a mechanism to diversify innate immune responses.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We sequenced the TLR4 promoter (4,3 kb) in Swedish blood donors. Since TLR4 plays a vital role in susceptibility to urinary tract infection (UTI), promoter sequences were obtained from children with mild or severe disease. We performed a case-control study of pediatric patients with asymptomatic bacteriuria (ABU) or those prone to recurrent acute pyelonephritis (APN). Promoter activity of the single SNPs or multiple allelic changes corresponding to the genotype patterns (GPs) was tested. We then conducted a replication study in an independent cohort of adult patients with a history of childhood APN. Last, in vivo effects of the different GPs were examined after therapeutic intravesical inoculation of 19 patients with Escherichia coli 83972. We identified in total eight TLR4 promoter sequence variants in the Swedish control population, forming 19 haplotypes and 29 genotype patterns, some with effects on promoter activity. Compared to symptomatic patients and healthy controls, ABU patients had fewer genotype patterns, and their promoter sequence variants reduced TLR4 expression in response to infection. The ABU associated GPs also reduced innate immune responses in patients who were subjected to therapeutic urinary E. coli tract inoculation.
The results suggest that genetic variation in the TLR4 promoter may be an essential, largely overlooked mechanism to influence TLR4 expression and UTI susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC2873976  PMID: 20505764
17.  Impaired Opsonization with C3b and Phagocytosis of Streptococcus pneumoniae in Sera from Subjects with Defects in the Classical Complement Pathway▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(8):3761-3770.
Results from studies using mice deficient in specific complement factors and clinical data on patients with an inherited deficiency of the classical complement pathway component C2 suggest that the classical pathway is vital for immunity to Streptococcus pneumoniae. However, the consequences of defects in classical pathway activity for opsonization with C3b and the phagocytosis of different S. pneumoniae serotypes in human serum are not known, and there has not been a systematic analysis of the abilities of sera from subjects with a C2 deficiency to opsonize S. pneumoniae. Hence, to investigate the role of the classical pathway in immunity to S. pneumoniae in more detail, flow cytometry assays of opsonization with C3b and the phagocytosis of three capsular serotypes of S. pneumoniae were performed using human sera depleted of the complement factor C1q or B or sera obtained from C2-deficient subjects. The results demonstrate that, in human serum, the classical pathway is vital for C3b-iC3b deposition onto cells of all three serotypes of S. pneumoniae and seems to be more important than the alternative pathway for phagocytosis. Compared to the results for sera from normal subjects, C3b-iC3b deposition and total anti-S. pneumoniae antibody activity levels in sera obtained from C2−/− subjects were reduced and the efficiency of phagocytosis of all three S. pneumoniae strains was impaired. Anticapsular antibody levels did not correlate with phagocytosis or C3b-iC3b deposition. These data confirm that the classical pathway is vital for complement-mediated phagocytosis of S. pneumoniae and demonstrate why subjects with a C2 deficiency have a marked increase in susceptibility to S. pneumoniae infections.
PMCID: PMC2493217  PMID: 18541650
18.  A risk haplotype of STAT4 for systemic lupus erythematosus is over-expressed, correlates with anti-dsDNA and shows additive effects with two risk alleles of IRF5 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(18):2868-2876.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the prototype autoimmune disease where genes regulated by type I interferon (IFN) are over-expressed and contribute to the disease pathogenesis. Because signal transducer and activator of transcription 4 (STAT4) plays a key role in the type I IFN receptor signaling, we performed a candidate gene study of a comprehensive set of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) in STAT4 in Swedish patients with SLE. We found that 10 out of 53 analyzed SNPs in STAT4 were associated with SLE, with the strongest signal of association (P = 7.1 × 10−8) for two perfectly linked SNPs rs10181656 and rs7582694. The risk alleles of these 10 SNPs form a common risk haplotype for SLE (P = 1.7 × 10−5). According to conditional logistic regression analysis the SNP rs10181656 or rs7582694 accounts for all of the observed association signal. By quantitative analysis of the allelic expression of STAT4 we found that the risk allele of STAT4 was over-expressed in primary human cells of mesenchymal origin, but not in B-cells, and that the risk allele of STAT4 was over-expressed (P = 8.4 × 10−5) in cells carrying the risk haplotype for SLE compared with cells with a non-risk haplotype. The risk allele of the SNP rs7582694 in STAT4 correlated to production of anti-dsDNA (double-stranded DNA) antibodies and displayed a multiplicatively increased, 1.82-fold risk of SLE with two independent risk alleles of the IRF5 (interferon regulatory factor 5) gene.
PMCID: PMC2525501  PMID: 18579578
19.  A Genetic Basis of Susceptibility to Acute Pyelonephritis 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e825.
For unknown reasons, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are clustered in certain individuals. Here we propose a novel, genetically determined cause of susceptibility to acute pyelonephritis, which is the most severe form of UTI. The IL-8 receptor, CXCR1, was identified as a candidate gene when mIL-8Rh mutant mice developed acute pyelonephritis (APN) with severe tissue damage.
Methods and Findings
We have obtained CXCR1 sequences from two, highly selected APN prone patient groups, and detected three unique mutations and two known polymorphisms with a genotype frequency of 23% and 25% compared to 7% in controls (p<0.001 and p<0.0001, respectively). When reflux was excluded, 54% of the patients had CXCR1 sequence variants. The UTI prone children expressed less CXCR1 protein than the pediatric controls (p<0.0001) and two sequence variants were shown to impair transcription.
The results identify a genetic innate immune deficiency, with a strong link to APN and renal scarring.
PMCID: PMC1950574  PMID: 17786197
20.  Predictors of infusion reactions during infliximab treatment in patients with arthritis 
In the present study we evaluated the impact of baseline antinuclear antibody (ANA) status and use of methotrexate on development of infliximab-related infusion reactions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or spondylarthropathies (SpAs), including psoriatic arthritis. All patients with RA (n = 213) or SpA (n = 76) treated with infliximab during the period 1999–2005 at the Department of Rheumatology in Lund, Sweden were included. ANAs were present in 28% and 25% of RA and SpA patients, respectively. Because of differences in baseline characteristics, we used a binary logistic regression model to calculate odds ratios (ORs), adjusting for age, sex and prednisolone dosage. Altogether 21% of patients with RA and 13% of patients with SpA developed infusion reactions (P = 0.126). The OR for development of infusion reactions in RA patients with baseline ANA positivity alone was 2.1. Infliximab without methotrexate and infliximab as monotherapy were associated with ORs of 3.1 and 3.6, respectively. Combining infliximab without methotrexate and ANA positivity yielded an OR for infusion reaction of 4.6. Lower age at disease onset and longer disease duration were associated with infusion reactions (P = 0.012 and P = 0.036, respectively), but age, sex, C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, Health Assessment Questionnaire and Disease Activity Score-28 at baseline were not. No predictors of infusions reactions were identified in SpA patients. RA patients treated with infliximab without methotrexate, and who are positive at baseline for ANAs are at increased risk for developing infliximab-related infusion reactions.
PMCID: PMC1779374  PMID: 16869978
21.  Mannan-binding lectin activates C3 and the alternative complement pathway without involvement of C2 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(5):1425-1434.
Lectin pathway activation of C3 is known to involve target recognition by mannan-binding lectin (MBL) or ficolins and generation of classical pathway C3 convertase via cleavage of C4 and C2 by MBL-associated serine protease 2 (MASP-2). We investigated C3 activation in C2-deficient human sera and in sera with other defined defects of complement to assess other mechanisms through which MBL might recruit complement. The capacity of serum to support C3 deposition was examined by ELISA using microtiter plates coated with O antigen–specific oligosaccharides derived from Salmonella typhimurium, S. thompson, and S. enteritidis corresponding to serogroups B, C, and D (BO, CO, and DO). MBL bound to CO, but not to BO and DO, and efficiently supported C3 deposition in the absence of C2, C4, or MASP-2. The existence of an MBL-dependent C2 bypass mechanism for alternative pathway–mediated C3 activation was clearly demonstrated using CO, solid-phase mannan, and E. coli LPS. MASP-1 might contribute, but was not required for C3 deposition in the model used. Independent of MBL, specific antibodies to CO supported C3 deposition through classical and alternative pathways. MBL-dependent C2 bypass activation could be particularly important in various inherited and acquired complement deficiency states.
PMCID: PMC1451204  PMID: 16670774
22.  The impact of HLA-DRB1 genes on extra-articular disease manifestations in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(6):R1386-R1393.
The objective of this study was to examine HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 genotypes in patients with severe extra-articular rheumatoid arthritis (ExRA) and to compare them with the genotypes of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients without extra-articular manifestations. Patients with severe ExRA were recruited from a large research database of patients with RA, from two cohorts of prevalent RA cases, and from a regional multicenter early RA cohort. Cases with ExRA manifestations (n = 159) were classified according to predefined criteria. Controls (n = 178) with RA but no ExRA were selected from the same sources. Cases and controls were matched for duration of RA and for clinical center. PCR based HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 genotyping was performed using the Biotest SSP kit, with additional sequencing in order to distinguish DRB1*04 subtypes. Associations between alleles and disease phenotypes were tested using multiple simulations of random distributions of alleles. There was no difference in global distribution of HLA-DRB1 and HLA-DQB1 alleles between patients with ExRA and controls. DRB1*0401 (P = 0.003) and 0401/0401 homozygosity (P = 0.002) were more frequent in Felty's syndrome than in controls. The presence of two HLA-DRB1*04 alleles encoding the shared epitope (SE) was associated with ExRA (overall odds ratio 1.79, 95% confidence interval 1.04–3.08) and with rheumatoid vasculitis (odds ratio 2.44, 95% confidence interval 1.22–4.89). In this large sample of patients with ExRA, Felty's syndrome was the only manifestation that was clearly associated with HLA-DRB1*0401. Other ExRA manifestations were not associated with individual alleles but with DRB1*04 SE double dose genotypes. This confirms that SE genes contribute to RA disease severity and ExRA. Other genetic and environmental factors may have a more specific impact on individual ExRA manifestations.
PMCID: PMC1297586  PMID: 16277691
23.  Immunoglobulin G (IgG) Anti-Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies Used as Markers for IgA-Deficient Celiac Disease Patients 
The role of immunoglobulin A (IgA) anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (IgA-tTG) as predictors of untreated celiac disease (CoD) is well documented, and the presence and levels of these antibodies are most accurately monitored with native or recombinant human antigens. However, IgA-deficient CoD patients are not identified by IgA serology, and conflicting results concerning the diagnostic validity of IgG antibodies against gliadin (IgG-AGA), endomysium (IgG-EmA), and tTG (IgG-tTG) have been reported. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the utility of IgG-tTG for the detection of CoD in IgA-deficient patients. Samples from 115 IgA-deficient and 200 IgA-sufficient subjects were collected and tested for the presence of IgA and IgG antibodies against tTG, EmA, and AGA. Antibodies against tTG were measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay based on recombinant human tTG, and antibodies against EmA were determined by immunofluorescence. The values for IgG-tTG showed a higher correlation (correlation coefficient [r] = 0.91) with those for IgG-EmA for the IgA-deficient subjects than for the IgA-sufficient subjects (r = 0.88). The overall concordance of the positive and negative results between IgG-tTG and IgG-EmA was 97%, and the IgG-tTG assay discriminated between IgG-EmA-positive and -negative subjects with IgA deficiency at a rate of 100%. Elevated levels of IgG-tTG and IgG-EmA were measured in 70% of the IgA-sufficient subjects. IgG-tTG detection with recombinant human tTG is a good alternative to IgG-EmA detection, and the addition of IgG-tTG assessment to present screening methods may improve the ability to identify IgA-deficient subjects with CoD.
PMCID: PMC549312  PMID: 15699419
24.  Analysis of HLA DR, HLA DQ, C4A, FcγRIIa, FcγRIIIa, MBL, and IL-1Ra allelic variants in Caucasian systemic lupus erythematosus patients suggests an effect of the combined FcγRIIa R/R and IL-1Ra 2/2 genotypes on disease susceptibility 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(6):R557-R562.
Dysfunction in various parts of immune defence, such as immune response, immune complex clearance, and inflammation, has an impact on pathogenesis in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We hypothesised that combinations of common variants of genes involved in these immune functions are associated with susceptibility to SLE. The following variants were analysed: HLA DR3, HLA DQ2, C4AQ0, Fcγ receptor IIa (FcγRIIa) genotype R/R, Fcγ receptor IIIa (FcRγIIIa) genotype F/F, mannan-binding lectin (MBL) genotype conferring a low serum concentration of MBL (MBL-low), and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) genotype 2/2. Polymorphisms were analysed in 143 Caucasian patients with SLE and 200 healthy controls. HLA DR3 in SLE patients was in 90% part of the haplotype HLA DR3-DQ2-C4AQ0, which was strongly associated with SLE (odds ratio [OR] 2.8, 95% CI 1.7–4.5). Analysis of combinations of gene variants revealed that the strong association with SLE for HLA DR3-DQ2-C4AQ0 remained after combination with FcγRIIa R/R, FcγRIIIa F/F, and MBL-low (OR>2). Furthermore, the combination of the FcγRIIa R/R and IL-1Ra 2/2 genotypes yielded a strong correlation with SLE (OR 11.8, 95% CI 1.5–95.4). This study demonstrates that certain combinations of gene variants may increase susceptibility to SLE, suggesting this approach for future studies. It also confirms earlier findings regarding the HLA DR3-DQ2-C4AQ0 haplotype.
PMCID: PMC1064866  PMID: 15535834
Fcγ receptor; HLA; interleukin-1 receptor antagonist; mannan-binding lectin; systemic lupus erythematosus
25.  Total C4B Deficiency Due to Gene Deletion and Gene Conversion in a Patient with Severe Infections 
Deficiencies of the early components of the classical complement pathway impair the actions of innate and humoral immunity and may lead to increased susceptibility to infections. We have studied the genetic basis of total C4B deficiency in a Finnish patient with recurrent meningitis, chronic fistulas and abscesses. The maternal chromosome carried a four-gene deletion including the C4B gene, and a conversion from C4B to C4A gene was found on the paternal chromosome resulting in complete deficiency of C4B. In the converted C4A gene, mutation screening did not reveal any amino acid changes or prominent mutations, yet a large number of nucleotide variations were found. Further, the patient was heterozygous for structural deficiency of mannan binding lectin (MBL) associating with medium levels of serum MBL. Our data provides new information on the genetic instability of the C4 gene region, and on the association of homozygous C4B deficiency and variant MBL genotype with increased susceptibility to recurrent and chronic infections. Importantly, plasma therapy induced a prompt clinical cure with long-term effects.
PMCID: PMC150532  PMID: 12626442

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