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.
EudraCT EU 2007-006539-29 and NCT00828997
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.
systemic lupus erythematosus; autoimmunity; genetics; polymorphism; B-cells; autoantibodies; B-lymphocyte tyrosine kinase
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.
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.
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.
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.
systemic lupus erythematosus; type I interferon system; candidate gene study; single nucleotide polymorphism; IKBKE; IL8
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fcγ receptor; HLA; interleukin-1 receptor antagonist; mannan-binding lectin; systemic lupus erythematosus
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.
To perform fine mapping of the autoimmunity susceptibility gene BLK and identify functional variants involved in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Genotyping of 1163 European SLE patients and 1482 controls and imputation were performed covering the BLK gene with 158 single-nucleotide polymorphisms. 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 analysed for their effect on protein half-life using a protein stability assay, cycloheximide and western blot. CHiP-qPCR for detection of nuclear factor κ B (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 1.2 Kb haplotype segment was confirmed. A second independent genetic effect was represented by an Ala71Thr, low-frequency missense substitution with an OR=2.31 (95% CI 1.38 to 3.86). The 71Thr decreased BLK protein half-life.
These 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.