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1.  Imputing Variants in HLA-DR Beta Genes Reveals That HLA-DRB1 Is Solely Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(2):e0150283.
The genetic association of HLA-DRB1 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is well documented, but association with other HLA-DR beta genes (HLA-DRB3, HLA-DRB4 and HLA-DRB5) has not been thoroughly studied, despite their similar functions and chromosomal positions. We examined variants in all functional HLA-DR beta genes in RA and SLE patients and controls, down to the amino-acid level, to better understand disease association with the HLA-DR locus. To this end, we improved an existing HLA reference panel to impute variants in all protein-coding HLA-DR beta genes. Using the reference panel, HLA variants were inferred from high-density SNP data of 9,271 RA-control subjects and 5,342 SLE-control subjects. Disease association tests were performed by logistic regression and log-likelihood ratio tests. After imputation using the newly constructed HLA reference panel and statistical analysis, we observed that HLA-DRB1 variants better accounted for the association between MHC and susceptibility to RA and SLE than did the other three HLA-DRB variants. Moreover, there were no secondary effects in HLA-DRB3, HLA-DRB4, or HLA-DRB5 in RA or SLE. Of all the HLA-DR beta chain paralogs, those encoded by HLA-DRB1 solely or dominantly influence susceptibility to RA and SLE.
PMCID: PMC4769216  PMID: 26919467
2.  The frequency of and risk factors for osteoporosis in Korean patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of osteoporosis in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and to analyze the risk factors in these patients using the KORean Observational study Network for Arthritis (KORONA) database.
Among the RA patients in the KORONA who were recruited between July 2009 and December 2011, postmenopausal women with bone mineral density (BMD) results within one year from the time of KORONA enrollment were included in this study. The baseline characteristics of patients in three groups, defined by BMD results, were compared. The BMD measurement rates and prevalence of osteoporosis in the study patients were calculated in accordance with age and gender subgroups. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to explore the association between osteoporosis and demographics and disease-related risk factors.
Of 1322 postmenopausal woman patients with RA in whom BMD was measured within one year of study enrollment, 619 patients (46.8 %) were in the osteoporosis group (T-score ≤ −2.5 SD). RA patients with osteoporosis had a higher frequency of previous fractures than those in other groups, especially fractures of the femur (p = 0.004) and wrist (p = 0.042). Advanced age (≥70 years; OR = 2.28, 95 % CI: 1.40–3.58), lower body mass index (<25; OR = 2.14, 95 % CI:1.52–3.02), longer disease duration (≥10 years; OR = 1.46, 95 % CI: 1.07–2.00), higher cumulative glucocorticoid dose (OR = 1.03, 95 % CI: 1.01–1.05), and higher Health Assessment Questionnaire score (OR = 1.37, 95 % CI:1.11–1.69) were independent risk factors for osteoporosis.
A large percentage (90.8 %) of RA patients enrolled in the KORONA cohort had osteoporosis and osteopenia. Nevertheless, BMD measurement rates in this population remained low, despite high risk groups of fractures.
PMCID: PMC4765070  PMID: 26912147
Osteoporosis; Rheumatoid arthritis; Frequency; Risk factors
3.  Genetic Association of CD247 (CD3ζ) with SLE in a Large-Scale Multiethnic Study 
Genes and immunity  2015;16(2):142-150.
A classic T-cell phenotype in Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the downregulation and replacement of the CD3ζ chain that alters TCR signaling. However, genetic associations with SLE in the human CD247 locus that encodes CD3ζ are not well established and require replication in independent cohorts. Our aim was therefore to examine, localize and validate CD247-SLE association in a large multi-ethnic population. We typed 44 contiguous CD247 SNPs in 8 922 SLE patients and 8 077 controls from four ethnically distinct populations. The strongest associations were found in the Asian population (11 SNPs in intron 1, 4.99×10−4
PMCID: PMC4371129  PMID: 25569266
Journal of Immunology Research  2015;2015:834085.
We have previously demonstrated that semimature dendritic cell- (smDC-) based immunotherapy is effective for the treatment of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) prior to disease onset. In the present study, we examined the efficacy of combination therapy with smDCs and methotrexate (MTX) in advanced CIA with a score of 2-3. Combination therapy with low-dose MTX and type II collagen- (CII-) pulsed smDCs (CII-smDCs) was more effective in inhibiting disease progression than high or low-dose MTX alone or a combination of high dose MTX and CII-smDCs. The effect of CII-smDCs alone was also comparable to the combination therapy. CD4+Foxp3+ Treg populations and IL-10 secretion markedly increased, and CII-specific autoreactive T cells decreased in mice treated with CII-smDCs alone or in combination with MTX. Combination therapy reduced the secretion of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and IL-17 with little influence on the IL-4 secretion in the mixed leukocyte reaction. These results imply that the combination therapy with low-dose MTX and smDCs is effective in controlling advanced CIA by enhancing Treg population and suppresses antigen-specific Th1/Th17 immunity, rather than initiating Th1 to Th2 immune deviation. Our findings provide a better understanding of the DC therapy in combination with MTX for the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
PMCID: PMC4499408  PMID: 26221616
A highly polygenic etiology and high degree of allele-sharing between ancestries have been well-elucidated in genetic studies of rheumatoid arthritis. Recently, the high-density genotyping array Immunochip for immune disease loci identified 14 new rheumatoid arthritis risk loci among individuals of European ancestry. Here, we aimed to identify new rheumatoid arthritis risk loci using Korean-specific Immunochip data.
We analyzed Korean rheumatoid arthritis case-control samples using the Immunochip and GWAS array to search for new risk alleles of rheumatoid arthritis with anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies. To increase power, we performed a meta-analysis of Korean data with previously published European Immunochip and GWAS data, for a total sample size of 9,299 Korean and 45,790 European case-control samples.
We identified 8 new rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility loci (TNFSF4, LBH, EOMES, ETS1–FLI1, COG6, RAD51B, UBASH3A and SYNGR1) that passed a genome-wide significance threshold (p<5×10−8), with evidence for three independent risk alleles at 1q25/TNFSF4. The risk alleles from the 7 new loci except for the TNFSF4 locus (monomorphic in Koreans), together with risk alleles from previously established RA risk loci, exhibited a high correlation of effect sizes between ancestries. Further, we refined the number of SNPs that represent potentially causal variants through a trans-ethnic comparison of densely genotyped SNPs.
This study demonstrates the advantage of dense-mapping and trans-ancestral analysis for identification of potentially causal SNPs. In addition, our findings support the importance of T cells in the pathogenesis and the fact of frequent overlap of risk loci among diverse autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC4467986  PMID: 24532676
Rheumatoid arthritis; Gene polymorphism; Anti-CCP
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(6):1960-1969.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease with significant immune system aberrations resulting from complex heritable genetics as well as environmental factors. TRAF6 is a candidate gene for SLE, which has a major role in several signaling pathways that are important for immunity and organ development.
Fifteen single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), across TRAF6 were evaluated in 7,490 SLE and 6,780 control subjects from different ancestries. Population-based case-control association analyses and meta-analyses were performed. P values, false discovery rate q values, and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Evidence of associations in multiple SNPs was detected. The best overall p values were obtained for SNPs rs5030437 and rs4755453 (p=7.85×10−5 and p=4.73×10−5, respectively) without significant heterogeneity among populations (p=0.67 and p=0.50 in Q-statistic). In addition, rs540386 previously reported to be associated with RA was found to be in LD with these two SNPs (r2= 0.95) and demonstrated evidence of association with SLE in the same direction (meta-analysis p=9.15×10−4, OR=0.89, 95%CI=0.83–0.95). Thrombocytopenia improved the overall results in different populations (meta-analysis p=1.99×10−6, OR=0.57, 95%CI=0.45–0.72, for rs5030470). Finally evidence of family based association in 34 African-American pedigrees with the presence of thrombocytopenia were detected in one available SNP rs5030437 with Z score magnitude of 2.28 (p=0.02) under a dominant model.
Our data indicate the presence of association of TRAF6 with SLE in agreement with the previous report of association with RA. These data provide further support for the involvement of TRAF6 in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC3380425  PMID: 22231568
TRAF6; polymorphism; systemic lupus erythematosus
Autoimmune Diseases  2012;2012:565039.
Objective. Although two recent randomized placebo-controlled trials of rituximab (RTX) failed to demonstrate efficacy in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), clinicians continue to use off-label RTX for cases refractory to current treatments. We evaluated the effectiveness and safety of rituximab for patients with refractory SLE in Korea. Methods. We retrospectively analyzed multicenter patients treated with RTX in Korea. Results. 39 SLE patients treated with RTX were included in the following manner: lupus nephritis 43.6%, hematologic 33.3%, arthritis 7.8%, myositis 7.8%, and others 7.7%. All patients had responded poorly to at least one conventional immunosuppressive agent (mean 2.5 ± 1.1, cyclophosphamide 43.6%, mycophenolate mofetil 48.7%, and other drugs) before RTX. Clinical improvements (complete or partial remission) occurred in patients with renal disease, hematologic disease, arthritis, myositis, and other manifestations at 6 months after RTX. The SLEDAI score was significantly decreased from 10.8 ± 7.1 at baseline to 6.7 ± 4.0 at 6 months, 6.2 ± 4.1 at 12 months, and 5.5 ± 3.6 at 24 months after RTX (P < 0.05). Among 28 clinical responders, 4 patients experienced a relapse of disease at 25 ± 4 months. Infections were noted in 3 patients (7.7%). Conclusion. RTX could be an effective and relatively safe therapeutic option in patients with severe refractory SLE until novel B-cell depletion therapy is available.
PMCID: PMC3523406  PMID: 23304457
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;71(11):1809-1814.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; OMIM 152700) is a chronic autoimmune disease for which the aetiology includes genetic and environmental factors. ITGAM, integrin αΜ (complement component 3 receptor 3 subunit) encoding a ligand for intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM) proteins, is an established SLE susceptibility locus. This study aimed to evaluate the independent and joint effects of genetic variations in the genes that encode ITGAM and ICAM.
The authors examined several markers in the ICAM1–ICAM4–ICAM5 locus on chromosome 19p13 and the single ITGAM polymorphism (rs1143679) using a large-scale case–control study of 17 481 unrelated participants from four ancestry populations. The single marker association and gene–gene interaction were analysed for each ancestry, and a meta-analysis across the four ancestries was performed.
The A-allele of ICAM1–ICAM4–ICAM5 rs3093030, associated with elevated plasma levels of soluble ICAM1, and the A-allele of ITGAM rs1143679 showed the strongest association with increased SLE susceptibility in each of the ancestry populations and the trans-ancestry meta-analysis (ORmeta=1.16, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.22; p=4.88×10−10 and ORmeta=1.67, 95% CI 1.55 to 1.79; p=3.32×10−46, respectively). The effect of the ICAM single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was independent of the effect of the ITGAM SNP rs1143679, and carriers of both ICAM rs3093030-AA and ITGAM rs1143679-AA had an OR of 4.08 compared with those with no risk allele in either SNP (95% CI 2.09 to 7.98; p=3.91×10−5).
These findings are the first to suggest that an ICAM–integrin-mediated pathway contributes to susceptibility to SLE.
PMCID: PMC3466387  PMID: 22523428
Molecular Medicine  2007;13(9-10):455-460.
A recent study in the North American White population has documented the association of a common STAT4 haplotype (tagged by rs7574865) with risk for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus. To replicate this finding in the Korean population, we performed a case-control association study. We genotyped 67 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the STAT1 and STAT4 regions in 1123 Korean patients with RA and 1008 ethnicity-matched controls. The most significant four risk SNPs (rs11889341, rs7574865, rs8179673, and rs10181656 located within the third intron of STAT4) among 67 SNPs are identical with those in the North American study. All four SNPs have modest risk for RA susceptibility (odds ratio 1.21–1.27). A common haplotype defined by these markers (TTCG) carries significant risk for RA in Koreans [34 percent versus 28 percent, P = 0.0027, OR (95 percent CI) = 1.33 (1.10–1.60)]. By logistic regression analysis, this haplotype is an independent risk factor in addition to the classical shared epitope alleles at the HLA-DRB1 locus. There were no significant associations with age of disease onset, radiographic progression, or serologic status using either allelic or haplotypic analysis. Unlike several other risk genes for RA such as PTPN22, PADI4, and FCRL3, a haplotype of the STAT4 gene shows consistent association with RA susceptibility across Whites and Asians, suggesting that this risk haplotype predates the divergence of the major racial groups.
PMCID: PMC2014726  PMID: 17932559
We report a 25-year-old Korean woman with Adult onset Still’s disease (AOSD) presented with renal amyloidosis, which had developed four years after disease onset. We successfully treated her with prednisolone, colchicine and cyclophosphamide. A review of the literature uncovered about 10 cases, most of which were treated by various regimens that resulted in poor outcomes. Renal amyloidosis should be suspected in patients with AOSD who have unexplained proteinuria. Although the mechanism of renal amyloid deposition is not well known, earlier histopathologic diagnosis and choice of regimen may affect prognosis.
PMCID: PMC4531753  PMID: 10992726
Adult onset Still’s disease; Amyloidosis
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;75(1):242-252.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; OMIM 152700) is characterised by the production of antibodies to nuclear antigens. We previously identified variants in complement receptor 2 (CR2/CD21) that were associated with decreased risk of SLE. This study aimed to identify the causal variant for this association.
Genotyped and imputed genetic variants spanning CR2 were assessed for association with SLE in 15 750 case-control subjects from four ancestral groups. Allele-specific functional effects of associated variants were determined using quantitative real-time PCR, quantitative flow cytometry, electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-PCR.
The strongest association signal was detected at rs1876453 in intron 1 of CR2 (pmeta=4.2×10−4, OR 0.85), specifically when subjects were stratified based on the presence of dsDNA autoantibodies (case-control pmeta=7.6×10−7, OR 0.71; case-only pmeta=1.9×10−4, OR 0.75). Although allele-specific effects on B cell CR2 mRNA or protein levels were not identified, levels of complement receptor 1 (CR1/CD35) mRNA and protein were significantly higher on B cells of subjects harbouring the minor allele (p=0.0248 and p=0.0006, respectively). The minor allele altered the formation of several DNA protein complexes by EMSA, including one containing CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), an effect that was confirmed by ChIP-PCR.
These data suggest that rs1876453 in CR2 has long-range effects on gene regulation that decrease susceptibility to lupus. Since the minor allele at rs1876453 is preferentially associated with reduced risk of the highly specific dsDNA autoantibodies that are present in preclinical, active and severe lupus, understanding its mechanisms will have important therapeutic implications.
PMCID: PMC4717392  PMID: 25180293
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Autoantibodies; Gene Polymorphism; B cells
Kottyan, Leah C. | Zoller, Erin E. | Bene, Jessica | Lu, Xiaoming | Kelly, Jennifer A. | Rupert, Andrew M. | Lessard, Christopher J. | Vaughn, Samuel E. | Marion, Miranda | Weirauch, Matthew T. | Namjou, Bahram | Adler, Adam | Rasmussen, Astrid | Glenn, Stuart | Montgomery, Courtney G. | Hirschfield, Gideon M. | Xie, Gang | Coltescu, Catalina | Amos, Chris | Li, He | Ice, John A. | Nath, Swapan K. | Mariette, Xavier | Bowman, Simon | Rischmueller, Maureen | Lester, Sue | Brun, Johan G. | Gøransson, Lasse G. | Harboe, Erna | Omdal, Roald | Cunninghame-Graham, Deborah S. | Vyse, Tim | Miceli-Richard, Corinne | Brennan, Michael T. | Lessard, James A. | Wahren-Herlenius, Marie | Kvarnström, Marika | Illei, Gabor G. | Witte, Torsten | Jonsson, Roland | Eriksson, Per | Nordmark, Gunnel | Ng, Wan-Fai | Anaya, Juan-Manuel | Rhodus, Nelson L. | Segal, Barbara M. | Merrill, Joan T. | James, Judith A. | Guthridge, Joel M. | Hal Scofield, R. | Alarcon-Riquelme, Marta | Bae, Sang-Cheol | Boackle, Susan A. | Criswell, Lindsey A. | Gilkeson, Gary | Kamen, Diane L. | Jacob, Chaim O. | Kimberly, Robert | Brown, Elizabeth | Edberg, Jeffrey | Alarcón, Graciela S. | Reveille, John D. | Vilá, Luis M. | Petri, Michelle | Ramsey-Goldman, Rosalind | Freedman, Barry I. | Niewold, Timothy | Stevens, Anne M. | Tsao, Betty P. | Ying, Jun | Mayes, Maureen D. | Gorlova, Olga Y. | Wakeland, Ward | Radstake, Timothy | Martin, Ezequiel | Martin, Javier | Siminovitch, Katherine | Moser Sivils, Kathy L. | Gaffney, Patrick M. | Langefeld, Carl D. | Harley, John B. | Kaufman, Kenneth M.
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;24(2):582-596.
Exploiting genotyping, DNA sequencing, imputation and trans-ancestral mapping, we used Bayesian and frequentist approaches to model the IRF5–TNPO3 locus association, now implicated in two immunotherapies and seven autoimmune diseases. Specifically, in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we resolved separate associations in the IRF5 promoter (all ancestries) and with an extended European haplotype. We captured 3230 IRF5–TNPO3 high-quality, common variants across 5 ethnicities in 8395 SLE cases and 7367 controls. The genetic effect from the IRF5 promoter can be explained by any one of four variants in 5.7 kb (P-valuemeta = 6 × 10−49; OR = 1.38–1.97). The second genetic effect spanned an 85.5-kb, 24-variant haplotype that included the genes IRF5 and TNPO3 (P-valuesEU = 10−27–10−32, OR = 1.7–1.81). Many variants at the IRF5 locus with previously assigned biological function are not members of either final credible set of potential causal variants identified herein. In addition to the known biologically functional variants, we demonstrated that the risk allele of rs4728142, a variant in the promoter among the lowest frequentist probability and highest Bayesian posterior probability, was correlated with IRF5 expression and differentially binds the transcription factor ZBTB3. Our analytical strategy provides a novel framework for future studies aimed at dissecting etiological genetic effects. Finally, both SLE elements of the statistical model appear to operate in Sjögren's syndrome and systemic sclerosis whereas only the IRF5–TNPO3 gene-spanning haplotype is associated with primary biliary cirrhosis, demonstrating the nuance of similarity and difference in autoimmune disease risk mechanisms at IRF5–TNPO3.
PMCID: PMC4275071  PMID: 25205108
Since the 2002 Dusseldorf meeting, one new agent, Benlysta, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for systemic lupus erythematosus. Experiences from the field in conducting trials of all the agents tested during this period have provided valuable practical insights. There has been incremental progress in defining the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) of key disease manifestations and the view is largely that of the health care providers and not that of the person suffering the disease. This basic methodological work on the MCID should improve the efficiency and the clinical relevance of future trials and their design.
PMCID: PMC4718037  PMID: 26732314
Lupus  2014;24(1):42-49.
Anti-C1q has been associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis in previous studies. We studied anti-C1q specificity for SLE (vs. rheumatic disease controls) and the association with SLE manifestations in an international multi-center study.
Information and blood samples were obtained in a cross-sectional study from patients with SLE (n=308) and other rheumatologic diseases (n=389) from 25 clinical sites (84% female, 68% Caucasian, 17% African descent, 8% Asian, 7% other). IgG anti-C1q against the collagen-like region was measured by ELISA.
Prevalence of anti-C1q was 28% (86/308) in patients with SLE and 13% (49/389) in controls (OR=2.7, 95% CI: 1.8-4, p<0.001). Anti-C1q was associated with proteinuria (OR=3.0, 95% CI: 1.7-5.1, p<0.001), red cell casts (OR=2.6, 95% CI: 1.2-5.4, p=0.015), anti-dsDNA (OR=3.4, 95% CI: 1.9-6.1, p<0.001) and anti-Smith (OR=2.8, 95% CI: 1.5-5.0, p=0.01). Anti-C1q was independently associated with renal involvement after adjustment for demographics, ANA, anti-dsDNA and low complement (OR=2.3, 95% CI: 1.3-4.2, p<0.01). Simultaneously positive anti-C1q, anti-dsDNA and low complement was strongly associated with renal involvement (OR=14.9, 95% CI: 5.8-38.4, p<0.01).
Anti-C1q was more common in patients with SLE and those of Asian race/ethnicity. We confirmed a significant association of anti-C1q with renal involvement, independent of demographics and other serologies. Anti-C1q in combination with anti-dsDNA and low complement was the strongest serological association with renal involvement. These data support the usefulness of anti-C1q in SLE, especially in lupus nephritis.
PMCID: PMC4268323  PMID: 25124676
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(25):6916-6926.
Previous studies have emphasized ethnically heterogeneous human leukocyte antigen (HLA) classical allele associations to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk. We fine-mapped RA risk alleles within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in 2782 seropositive RA cases and 4315 controls of Asian descent. We applied imputation to determine genotypes for eight class I and II HLA genes to Asian populations for the first time using a newly constructed pan-Asian reference panel. First, we empirically measured high imputation accuracy in Asian samples. Then we observed the most significant association in HLA-DRβ1 at amino acid position 13, located outside the classical shared epitope (Pomnibus = 6.9 × 10−135). The individual residues at position 13 have relative effects that are consistent with published effects in European populations (His > Phe > Arg > Tyr ≅ Gly > Ser)—but the observed effects in Asians are generally smaller. Applying stepwise conditional analysis, we identified additional independent associations at positions 57 (conditional Pomnibus = 2.2 × 10−33) and 74 (conditional Pomnibus = 1.1 × 10−8). Outside of HLA-DRβ1, we observed independent effects for amino acid polymorphisms within HLA-B (Asp9, conditional P = 3.8 × 10−6) and HLA-DPβ1 (Phe9, conditional P = 3.0 × 10−5) concordant with European populations. Our trans-ethnic HLA fine-mapping study reveals that (i) a common set of amino acid residues confer shared effects in European and Asian populations and (ii) these same effects can explain ethnically heterogeneous classical allelic associations (e.g. HLA-DRB1*09:01) due to allele frequency differences between populations. Our study illustrates the value of high-resolution imputation for fine-mapping causal variants in the MHC.
PMCID: PMC4245039  PMID: 25070946
The presence of the HLA-B*27 allele is a major risk factor for the development of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), which causes chronic inflammation of the spine and other sites. We investigated residual effects outside HLA-B within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region in the Korean population.
Using the Korean HLA reference panel, we inferred the classic HLA alleles and amino-acid residues of the six HLA genes (HLA-A, -B, -C,-DPB1, -DQB1, and -DRB1) and MHC single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 3820 Korean subjects, including 654 Korean cases of AS and 3166 controls, who were genotyped by using Immunochip. Logistic regression and log-likelihood ratio tests were used in AS association tests for imputed markers.
The most significant associations were identified at amino-acid positions in the epitope-binding site of HLA-B (P = 1.71 × 10−481 at position 70, P = 7.20 × 10−479 at position 97, and P = 2.54 × 10−484 at positions 114), highlighting the risk effect of the HLA-B*27 allele and the protective effects of other classic alleles. A secondary effect was located at the leucine at amino-acid position 116 in the epitope-binding site of HLA-C (P = 1.69 × 10−14), completely tagging the HLA-C*15:02 allele. This residue had a large effect in HLA-B*27-negative patients (odds ratio = 6.6, 95 % confidence interval = 3.8 to 11.4).
The four amino-acid positions of HLA-B and -C account for most of the associations between AS and MHC in the Korean population. This finding updates the list of AS susceptibility loci and provides new insight into AS pathogenesis mediated by MHC class I molecules.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0855-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4662802  PMID: 26613595
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;71(9):1502-1509.
To describe the frequency, attribution, outcome and predictors of seizures in SLE
The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) performed a prospective inception cohort study. Demographic variables, global SLE disease activity (SLEDAI-2K), cumulative organ damage (SLICC/ACR Damage Index (SDI)) and neuropsychiatric events were recorded at enrollment and annually. Lupus anticoagulant, anticardiolipin, anti-β2 glycoprotein-I, anti-ribosomal P and anti-NR2 glutamate receptor antibodies were measured at enrollment. Physician outcomes of seizures were recorded. Patient outcomes were derived from the SF-36 mental (MCS) and physical (PCS) component summary scores. Statistical analyses included Cox and linear regressions.
The cohort was 89.4% female with a mean follow up of 3.5±2.9 years. 75/1631 (4.6%) had ≥1 seizure, the majority around the time of SLE diagnosis. Multivariate analysis indicated a higher risk of seizures with African race/ethnicity (HR(CI):1.97 (1.07–3.63); p=0.03) and lower education status (1.97 (1.21–3.19); p<0.01). Higher damage scores (without NP variables) were associated with an increased risk of subsequent seizures (SDI=1:3.93 (1.46–10.55)); SDI=2 or 3:1.57 (0.32–7.65); SDI≥4:7.86 (0.89–69.06); p=0.03). There was an association with disease activity but not with autoantibodies. Seizures attributed to SLE frequently resolved (59/78(76%)) in the absence of anti-seizure drugs. There was no significant impact on the MCS or PCS scores. Anti-malarial drugs in absence of immunosuppressive agents were associated with reduced seizure risk (0.07(0.01–0.66); p=0.03).
Seizures occurred close to SLE diagnosis, in patients with African race/ethnicity, lower educational status and cumulative organ damage. Most seizures resolved without a negative impact on health-related quality of life. Anti-malarial drugs were associated with a protective effect.
PMCID: PMC4656036  PMID: 22492779 CAMSID: cams5144
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Neuropsychiatric; Seizures; Inception cohort
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;74(9):1706-1713.
Background and aims
We studied damage accrual and factors determining development and progression of damage in an international cohort of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.
The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Cohort recruited patients within 15 months of developing four or more 1997 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for SLE; the SLICC/ACR damage index (SDI) was measured annually. We assessed relative rates of transition using maximum likelihood estimation in a multistate model. The Kaplan–Meier method estimated the probabilities for time to first increase in SDI score and Cox regression analysis was used to assess mortality.
We recruited 1722 patients; mean (SD) age 35.0 (13.4) years at cohort entry. Patients with damage at enrolment were more likely to have further worsening of SDI (SDI 0 vs ≥1; p<0.001). Age, USA African race/ethnicity, SLEDAI-2K score, steroid use and hypertension were associated with transition from no damage to damage, and increase(s) in pre-existing damage. Male gender (relative transition rates (95% CI) 1.48 (1.06 to 2.08)) and USA Caucasian race/ethnicity (1.63 (1.08 to 2.47)) were associated with SDI 0 to ≥1 transitions; Asian race/ethnicity patients had lower rates of new damage (0.60 (0.39 to 0.93)). Antimalarial use was associated with lower rates of increases in pre-existing damage (0.63 (0.44 to 0.89)). Damage was associated with future mortality (HR (95% CI) 1.46 (1.18 to 1.81) per SDI point).
Damage in SLE predicts future damage accrual and mortality. We identified several potentially modifiable risk factors for damage accrual; an integrated strategy to address these may improve long-term outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4552899  PMID: 24834926
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Outcomes research; Corticosteroids; Inflammation
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;74(8):1530-1536.
The metabolic syndrome (MetS) may contribute to the increased cardiovascular risk in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We examined the association between MetS and disease activity, disease phenotype and corticosteroid exposure over time in patients with SLE.
Recently diagnosed (<15 months) patients with SLE from 30 centres across 11 countries were enrolled into the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Cohort from 2000 onwards. Baseline and annual assessments recorded clinical, laboratory and therapeutic data. A longitudinal analysis of factors associated with MetS in the first 2 years of follow-up was performed using random effects logistic regression.
We studied 1150 patients with a mean (SD) age of 34.9 (13.6) years and disease duration at enrolment of 24.2 (18.0) weeks. In those with complete data, MetS prevalence was 38.2% at enrolment, 34.8% at year 1 and 35.4% at year 2. In a multivariable random effects model that included data from all visits, prior MetS status, baseline renal disease, SLICC Damage Index >1, higher disease activity, increasing age and Hispanic or Black African race/ethnicity were independently associated with MetS over the first 2 years of follow-up in the cohort.
MetS is a persistent phenotype in a significant proportion of patients with SLE. Renal lupus, active inflammatory disease and damage are SLE-related factors that drive MetS development while antimalarial agents appear to be protective from early in the disease course.
PMCID: PMC4515988  PMID: 24692585
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Cardiovascular Disease; Inflammation
Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine whether a Proline (Pro)-to-Alanine (Ala) exchange at codon 12 (Pro12Ala) polymorphism of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARγ) is associated with susceptibility to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Methods: A meta-analysis was conducted on the association between the PPARγ Pro12Ala polymorphism and NAFLD, RA, and PsA. Results: Nine studies, including five on NAFLD, two on RA, and two on PsA, were available for the meta-analysis consisting of 8082 cases and 3790 controls. The meta-analysis revealed no association between the Ala allele of the PPARγ Pro12Ala polymorphism and NAFLD (odds ratios [OR]=0.936, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.672–1.302, p=0.693). However, stratification by ethnicity indicated an association between the Ala allele and NAFLD in East Asians (OR=0.700, 95% CI=0.496–0.987, p=0.042), but not in Europeans (OR=1.128, 95% CI=0.863–1.475, p=0.378). Analysis using the dominant model showed the same Ala allele pattern in East Asians and Europeans (OR=0.688, 95% CI=0.484–0.978, p=0.037; OR=1.051, 95% CI=0.782–1.413, p=0.742), demonstrating a significant association between the Ala allele and NAFLD in East Asians. The meta-analysis revealed no association between the Ala allele and RA in East Asians (OR=0.467, 95% CI=0.188–1.161, p=0.101), and no association was found between the Ala allele and PsA in Europeans (OR=0.869, 95% CI=0.465–1.627, p=0.662). Conclusions: Our meta-analysis demonstrates that the PPARγ Pro12Ala polymorphism is associated with susceptibility to NAFLD in East Asians, but not in European populations.
PMCID: PMC4010165  PMID: 24697566
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;23(6):1656-1668.
Recent reports have associated NCF2, encoding a core component of the multi-protein NADPH oxidase (NADPHO), with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility in individuals of European ancestry. To identify ethnicity-specific and -robust variants within NCF2, we assessed 145 SNPs in and around the NCF2 gene in 5325 cases and 21 866 controls of European-American (EA), African-American (AA), Hispanic (HS) and Korean (KR) ancestry. Subsequent imputation, conditional, haplotype and bioinformatic analyses identified seven potentially functional SLE-predisposing variants. Association with non-synonymous rs17849502, previously reported in EA, was detected in EA, HS and AA (PEA = 1.01 × 10−54, PHS = 3.68 × 10−10, PAA = 0.03); synonymous rs17849501 was similarly significant. These SNPs were monomorphic in KR. Novel associations were detected with coding variants at rs35937854 in AA (PAA = 1.49 × 10−9), and rs13306575 in HS and KR (PHS = 7.04 × 10−7, PKR = 3.30 × 10−3). In KR, a 3-SNP haplotype was significantly associated (P = 4.20 × 10−7), implying that SLE predisposing variants were tagged. Significant SNP–SNP interaction (P = 0.02) was detected between rs13306575 and rs17849502 in HS, and a dramatically increased risk (OR = 6.55) with a risk allele at each locus. Molecular modeling predicts that these non-synonymous mutations could disrupt NADPHO complex assembly. The risk allele of rs17849501, located in a conserved transcriptional regulatory region, increased reporter gene activity, suggesting in vivo enhancer function. Our results not only establish allelic heterogeneity within NCF2 associated with SLE, but also emphasize the utility of multi-ethnic cohorts to identify predisposing variants explaining additional phenotypic variance (‘missing heritability’) of complex diseases like SLE.
PMCID: PMC3929085  PMID: 24163247
Frontiers in Genetics  2015;5:450.
Genome wide association studies have identified variants in PXK that confer risk for humoral autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), rheumatoid arthritis and more recently systemic sclerosis. While PXK is involved in trafficking of epidermal growth factor Receptor (EGFR) in COS-7 cells, mechanisms linking PXK to lupus pathophysiology have remained undefined. In an effort to uncover the mechanism at this locus that increases lupus-risk, we undertook a fine-mapping analysis in a large multi-ancestral study of lupus patients and controls. We define a large (257kb) common haplotype marking a single causal variant that confers lupus risk detected only in European ancestral populations and spans the promoter through the 3′ UTR of PXK. The strongest association was found at rs6445972 with P < 4.62 × 10−10, OR 0.81 (0.75–0.86). Using stepwise logistic regression analysis, we demonstrate that one signal drives the genetic association in the region. Bayesian analysis confirms our results, identifying a 95% credible set consisting of 172 variants spanning 202 kb. Functionally, we found that PXK operates on the B-cell antigen receptor (BCR); we confirmed that PXK influenced the rate of BCR internalization. Furthermore, we demonstrate that individuals carrying the risk haplotype exhibited a decreased rate of BCR internalization, a process known to impact B cell survival and cell fate. Taken together, these data define a new candidate mechanism for the genetic association of variants around PXK with lupus risk and highlight the regulation of intracellular trafficking as a genetically regulated pathway mediating human autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC4288052  PMID: 25620976
lupus; PXK; fine-mapping; B cells; BCR
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;73(1):10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202099.
To examine disease activity versus treatment as lymphoma risk factors in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
We performed case–cohort analyses within a multisite SLE cohort. Cancers were ascertained by regional registry linkages. Adjusted HRs for lymphoma were generated in regression models, for time-dependent exposures to immunomodulators (cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, methotrexate, mycophenolate, antimalarial drugs, glucocorticoids) demographics, calendar year, Sjogren’s syndrome, SLE duration and disease activity. We used adjusted mean SLE Disease Activity Index scores (SLEDAI-2K) over time, and drugs were treated both categorically (ever/never) and as estimated cumulative doses.
We studied 75 patients with lymphoma (72 non-Hodgkin, three Hodgkin) and 4961 cancer-free controls. Most lymphomas were of B-cell origin. As is seen in the general population, lymphoma risk in SLE was higher in male than female patients and increased with age. Lymphomas occurred a mean of 12.4 years (median 10.9) after SLE diagnosis. Unadjusted and adjusted analyses failed to show a clear association of disease activity with lymphoma risk. There was a suggestion of greater exposure to cyclophosphamide and to higher cumulative steroids in lymphoma cases than the cancer-free controls.
In this large SLE sample, there was a suggestion of higher lymphoma risk with exposure to cyclophosphamide and high cumulative steroids. Disease activity itself was not clearly associated with lymphoma risk. Further work will focus on genetic profiles that might interact with medication exposure to influence lymphoma risk in SLE.
PMCID: PMC3855611  PMID: 23303389
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112546.
Genetic variations of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) locus are strongly associated with disease susceptibility and prognosis for many diseases, including many autoimmune diseases. In this study, we developed a Korean HLA reference panel for imputing classical alleles and amino acid residues of several HLA genes. An HLA reference panel has potential for use in identifying and fine-mapping disease associations with the MHC locus in East Asian populations, including Koreans. A total of 413 unrelated Korean subjects were analyzed for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the MHC locus and six HLA genes, including HLA-A, -B, -C, -DRB1, -DPB1, and -DQB1. The HLA reference panel was constructed by phasing the 5,858 MHC SNPs, 233 classical HLA alleles, and 1,387 amino acid residue markers from 1,025 amino acid positions as binary variables. The imputation accuracy of the HLA reference panel was assessed by measuring concordance rates between imputed and genotyped alleles of the HLA genes from a subset of the study subjects and East Asian HapMap individuals. Average concordance rates were 95.6% and 91.1% at 2-digit and 4-digit allele resolutions, respectively. The imputation accuracy was minimally affected by SNP density of a test dataset for imputation. In conclusion, the Korean HLA reference panel we developed was highly suitable for imputing HLA alleles and amino acids from MHC SNPs in East Asians, including Koreans.
PMCID: PMC4232350  PMID: 25398076
International Orthopaedics  2013;37(11):2289-2296.
Nitric oxide (NO), a short-lived gaseous free radical, is a potent mediator of biological responses involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune rheumatic diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nitric oxide also serves as an important signal in physiological processes, including angiogenesis, thrombosis, and bone turnover, which are known to be related to the pathogenesis of osteonecrosis. We investigated whether NOS3 gene polymorphisms are associated with risk of osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH).
Five polymorphisms in the NOS3 gene were genotyped using TaqMan assays in 306 controls, 150 SLE patients, and 50 SLE patients with ONFH (SLE_ONFH).
We found that Asp258Asp and Glu298Asp (G894T) polymorphisms in the NOS3 gene were significantly associated with risk of ONFH. Additionally, we calculated haplotype frequencies of a linkage disequilibrium (LD) block in NOS3 (rs1799983 − rs1800780) and tested for haplotype associations. The haplotypes G-A and T-A showed significant protective (P = 1.6 × 10-3; OR 0.39, 95 % confidence intervals (CI) 0.22–0.7) and increased risk (P = 2.0 x 10-5–6.0 x 10-4; OR 3.17−3.73) effects for ONFH, respectively.
These results suggest that exonic NOS3 polymorphisms may increase the risk of ONFH in Korean SLE patients
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00264-013-1966-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3824903  PMID: 23775455

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