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1.  Assessment of synovitis with contrast-enhanced MRI using a whole-joint semiquantitative scoring system in people with, or at high risk of, knee osteoarthritis: the MOST study 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2010;70(5):805-811.
Objectives
To introduce a comprehensive and reliable scoring system for the assessment of whole-knee joint synovitis based on contrast-enhanced (CE) MRI.
Methods
Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study (MOST) is a cohort study of people with, or at high risk of, knee osteoarthritis (OA). Subjects are an unselected subset of MOST who volunteered for CE-MRI. Synovitis was assessed at 11 sites of the joint. Synovial thickness was scored semiquantitatively: grade 0 (<2 mm), grade 1 (2–4 mm) and grade 2 (>4 mm) at each site. Two musculoskeletal radiologists performed the readings and inter- and intrareader reliability was evaluated. Whole-knee synovitis was assessed by summing the scores from all sites. The association of Western Ontario and McMaster Osteoarthritis Index pain score with this summed score and with the maximum synovitis grade for each site was assessed.
Results
400 subjects were included (mean age 58.8±7.0 years, body mass index 29.5±4.9 kg/m2, 46% women). For individual sites, intrareader reliability (weighted κ) was 0.67–1.00 for reader 1 and 0.60–1.00 for reader 2. Inter-reader agreement (κ) was 0.67–0.92. For the summed synovitis scores, intrareader reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC)) was 0.98 and 0.96 for each reader and inter-reader agreement (ICC) was 0.94. Moderate to severe synovitis in the parapatellar subregion was associated with the higher maximum pain score (adjusted OR (95% CI), 2.8 (1.4 to 5.4) and 3.1 (1.2 to 7.9), respectively).
Conclusions
A comprehensive semiquantitative scoring system for the assessment of whole-knee synovitis is proposed. It is reliable and identifies knees with pain, and thus is a potentially powerful tool for synovitis assessment in epidemiological OA studies.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.139618
PMCID: PMC4180232  PMID: 21187293
2.  The HLA–DRB1 Shared Epitope Is Associated With Susceptibility to Rheumatoid Arthritis in African Americans Through European Genetic Admixture 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2008;58(2):349-358.
Objective
To determine whether shared epitope (SE)–containing HLA–DRB1 alleles are associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in African Americans and whether their presence is associated with higher degrees of global (genome-wide) genetic admixture from the European population.
Methods
In this multicenter cohort study, African Americans with early RA and matched control subjects were analyzed. In addition to measurement of serum anti–cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies and HLA–DRB1 genotyping, a panel of >1,200 ancestry-informative markers was analyzed in patients with RA and control subjects, to estimate the proportion of European ancestry.
Results
The frequency of SE-containing HLA–DRB1 alleles was 25.2% in African American patients with RA versus 13.6% in control subjects (P = 0.00005). Of 321 patients with RA, 42.1% had at least 1 SE-containing allele, compared with 25.3% of 166 control subjects (P = 0.0004). The mean estimated percent European ancestry was associated with SE-containing HLA–DRB1 alleles in African Americans, regardless of disease status (RA or control). As reported in RA patients of European ancestry, there was a significant association of the SE with the presence of the anti-CCP antibody: 86 (48.9%) of 176 patients with anti-CCP antibody–positive RA had at least 1 SE allele, compared with 36 (32.7%) of 110 patients with anti-CCP antibody–negative RA (P = 0.01, by chi-square test).
Conclusion
HLA–DRB1 alleles containing the SE are strongly associated with susceptibility to RA in African Americans. The absolute contribution is less than that reported in RA among populations of European ancestry, in which ~50–70% of patients have at least 1 SE allele. As in Europeans with RA, the SE association was strongest in the subset of African American patients with anti-CCP antibodies. The finding of a higher degree of European ancestry among African Americans with SE alleles suggests that a genetic risk factor for RA was introduced into the African American population through admixture, thus making these individuals more susceptible to subsequent environmental or unknown factors that trigger the disease.
doi:10.1002/art.23166
PMCID: PMC3726059  PMID: 18240241
3.  Comparison of the Disease Activity Score using Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate and C-reactive Protein in African-Americans with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
The Journal of rheumatology  2013;40(11):1812-1822.
INTRODUCTION
The Disease Activity Score based on 28 joints (DAS28) has been increasingly used in clinical practice and research studies of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Studies have reported discordance between DAS28 based on erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) versus C-reactive protein (CRP) in RA patients. However such comparison is lacking in African-Americans with RA.
METHODS
This analysis included participants from the Consortium for the Longitudinal Evaluation of African Americans with Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (CLEAR) Registry which enrolls self-declared African-Americans with RA. Using tender and swollen joint counts separate ESR-based and CRP-based DAS28 scores (DAS28-ESR3 and DAS28-CRP3) were calculated, as were DAS28-ESR4 and DAS28-CRP4, which included the patient’s assessment of disease activity. The scores were compared using paired t-test, simple agreement and kappa, correlation coefficient and Bland-Altman plots.
RESULTS
Of the 233 included participants, 85% were women, mean age at enrollment was 52.6 years, and median disease duration at enrollment was 21 months. Mean DAS28-ESR3 was significantly higher than DAS28-CRP3 (4.8 vs. 3.9; p<0.001). Similarly, mean DAS28-ESR4 was significantly higher than DAS28-CRP4 (4.7 vs. 3.9; p<0.001). ESR-based DAS28 remained higher than CRP-based DAS28 even when stratified by age, sex, and disease duration. Overall agreement was not high between DAS28-ESR3 and DAS28-CRP3 (50%) or between DAS28-ESR4 and DAS28-CRP4 (59%). DAS28-CRP3 underestimated disease activity in 47% of the participants relative to DAS28-ESR3 and DAS28-CRP4 in 40% of the participants relative to DAS28-ESR4.
CONCLUSION
There was significant discordance between the ESR-based and CRP-based DAS28 which could impact clinical treatment decisions in African-Americans with RA.
doi:10.3899/jrheum.121225
PMCID: PMC3987124  PMID: 23950187
DAS28; Rheumatoid Arthritis; African-Americans
4.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use in African Americans With Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis care & research  2014;66(2):180-189.
Objective.
Racial/ethnic differences with regard to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use have been reported in the US. However, specific details of CAM use by African Americans with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are lacking.
Methods.
Data were collected from African Americans with RA enrolled in a multicenter registry regarding the use of CAM, including food supplements, topical applications, activities, and alternative care providers. Factors associated with CAM use by sex and disease duration were assessed using t-test, Wilcoxon’s rank sum test, chi-square test, and logistic regression analyses.
Results.
Of the 855 participants, 85% were women and mean age at enrollment was 54 years. Overall, ever using any of the CAM treatments, activities, and providers was 95%, 98%, and 51%, respectively (median of 3 for number of treatments, median of 5 for activities, and median of 1 for providers). Those with longer disease duration (>2 years) were significantly more likely (odds ratio >2.0, P < 0.05) to use raisins soaked in vodka/gin, to take fish oils, or to drink alcoholic beverages for RA treatment than those with early disease. As compared to men, women were significantly (P < 0.05) more likely to pray/attend church, write in a journal, and use biofeedback, but were less likely to smoke tobacco or topically apply household oils for treatment of RA.
Conclusion.
CAM use was highly prevalent in this cohort, even in individuals with early disease. Health care providers need to be aware of CAM use as some treatments may potentially have interactions with conventional medicines. This could be important within this cohort of African Americans, where racial disparities are known to affect access to conventional care.
doi:10.1002/acr.22148
PMCID: PMC3977347  PMID: 23983105
5.  Gene expression patterns in peripheral blood cells associated with radiographic severity in African Americans with early rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatology international  2012;33(1):129-137.
Gene expression profiling may be used to stratify patients by disease severity to test the hypothesis that variable disease outcome has a genetic component. In order to define unique expression signatures in African American rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with severe erosive disease, we undertook a gene expression study using samples of RNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). RNA from baseline PBMC samples of 96 African American RA patients with early RA (<2 years disease duration) was hybridized to cDNA probes of the Illumina Human HT-V3 expression array. Expression analyses were performed using the ca. 25,000 cDNA probes, and then expression levels were compared to the total number of erosions in radiographs of the hands and feet at baseline and 36 months. Using a false discovery rate cutoff of Q = 0.30, 1,138 genes at baseline and 680 genes at 36 months significantly correlated with total erosions. No evidence of a signal differentiating disease progression, or change in erosion scores between baseline and 36 months, was found. Further analyses demonstrated that the differential gene expression signature was localized to the patients with the most erosive disease (>10 erosions). Ingenuity Pathway Analysis demonstrated that genes with fold change greater than 1.5 implicated immune pathways such as CTLA signaling in cytotoxic T lymphocytes. These results demonstrate that CLEAR patients with early RA having the most severe erosive disease, as compared to more mild cases (<10 erosions), may be characterized by a set of differentially expressed genes that represent biological pathways with relevance to autoimmune disease.
doi:10.1007/s00296-011-2355-3
PMCID: PMC3769702  PMID: 22238028
Genome-wide gene expression; Sharp/van der Heijde; Pathway analysis; CLEAR; ABCoN
6.  Measurement of Erythrocyte Methotrexate Polyglutamate Levels: Ready for Clinical Use in Rheumatoid Arthritis? 
Current rheumatology reports  2010;12(5):342-347.
Methotrexate (MTX) is one of the most commonly prescribed and most effective drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Given the partial response of many patients and the side effect profile of the drug, there is considerable interest in identification of biomarkers to guide MTX therapy in RA. Upon entering cells, MTX is polyglutamated. Measuring methotrexate polyglutamates (MTX PGs) levels in circulating red blood cells (RBC) has been proposed as an objective measure that can help to optimize MTX therapy in RA. There is conflicting data with regard to the clinical utility of measurement of MTX PGs measurements as a predictor of the efficacy or toxicity of low-dose MTX effects in RA. Should large, randomized clinical trials of this assay show consistent, reproducible, long-term correlations between MTX PG levels and efficacy and toxicity, this test could become a prominent tool for clinicians to optimize the use of MTX in RA.
doi:10.1007/s11926-010-0120-3
PMCID: PMC3769795  PMID: 20665136
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Methotrexate; Polyglutamates
8.  Pharmacogenetics of Etanercept in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Pharmacogenomics  2008;9(8):1011-1015.
Etanercept is one of several TNF inhibitors approved for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and a variety of other immune-mediated inflammatory conditions. Given the plethora of drugs approved for RA and the wide variations in cost and treatment response, markers of efficacy would be very useful. Several candidate genes, including HLA-DRB1 alleles and those encoding TNF, TNF receptors, and Fc receptors, have been examined for a role in the response to treatment with etanercept. In this review, we discuss pharmacogenetic studies of etanercept in RA and other diseases, and comment on the future of such analyses to advance the goal of personalized medicine in RA.
doi:10.2217/14622416.9.8.1011
PMCID: PMC3746504  PMID: 18681777
9.  Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Allele PTPRC Is Also Associated With Response to Anti–Tumor Necrosis Factor α Therapy 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(7):1849-1861.
Objective
Anti–tumor necrosis factor α (anti-TNF) therapy is a mainstay of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of the present study was to test established RA genetic risk factors to determine whether the same alleles also influence the response to anti-TNF therapy.
Methods
A total of 1,283 RA patients receiving etanercept, infliximab, or adalimumab therapy were studied from among an international collaborative consortium of 9 different RA cohorts. The primary end point compared RA patients with a good treatment response according to the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria (n = 505) with RA patients considered to be nonresponders (n = 316). The secondary end point was the change from baseline in the level of disease activity according to the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (ΔDAS28). Clinical factors such as age, sex, and concomitant medications were tested as possible correlates of treatment response. Thirty-one single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the risk of RA were genotyped and tested for any association with treatment response, using univariate and multivariate logistic regression models.
Results
Of the 31 RA-associated risk alleles, a SNP at the PTPRC (also known as CD45) gene locus (rs10919563) was associated with the primary end point, a EULAR good response versus no response (odds ratio [OR] 0.55, P = 0.0001 in the multivariate model). Similar results were obtained using the secondary end point, the ΔDAS28 (P = 0.0002). There was suggestive evidence of a stronger association in autoantibody-positive patients with RA (OR 0.55, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.39–0.76) as compared with autoantibody-negative patients (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.41–1.99).
Conclusion
Statistically significant associations were observed between the response to anti-TNF therapy and an RA risk allele at the PTPRC gene locus. Additional studies will be required to replicate this finding in additional patient collections.
doi:10.1002/art.27457
PMCID: PMC3652476  PMID: 20309874
10.  Association of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in CCR6, TAGAP and TNFAIP3 with Rheumatoid Arthritis in African Americans 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(5):1355-1358.
Objective
We previously reported an analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in three validated European rheumatoid arthritis (RA) susceptibility loci, TAGAP, TNFAIP3, and CCR6 in African-Americans with RA. Unexpectedly, the disease-associated alleles were different in African-Americans than in Europeans. In an effort to better define their contribution, we performed additional SNP genotyping in these genes.
Methods
Seven SNPs were genotyped in 446 African Americans with RA and 733 African American controls. Differences in minor allele frequency between cases and controls were analyzed after controlling for global proportion of European admixture, and pairwise linkage disequilibrium (LD) was estimated among the SNPs.
Results
Three SNPs were significantly associated with RA: TNFAIP3 rs719149 A allele (OR (95% CI) 1.22 (1.03–1.44) (p =0.02); TAGAP rs1738074 G allele OR 0.75 (0.63–0.89), (p =0.0012); and TAGAP rs4709267 G allele 0.74 (0.60–0.91), (p =0.004). Pairwise LD between the TAGAP SNPs was low (R2=0.034). The haplotype containing minor alleles for both TAGAP SNPs was uncommon (4.5%). After conditional analysis on each TAGAP SNP, its counterpart remained significantly associated with RA (rs1738074 for rs4709267 p=0.00001; rs4709267 for rs1738074 p=0.00005), suggesting independent effects.
Conclusions
SNPs in regulatory regions of TAGAP and an intronic SNP (TNFAIP3) are potential susceptibility loci in African Americans. Pairwise LD, haplotype analysis, and SNP conditioning analysis suggest that these two SNPs in TAGAP are independent susceptibility alleles. Additional fine mapping of this gene and functional genomic studies of these SNPs should provide additional insight into the role of these genes in RA.
doi:10.1002/art.33464
PMCID: PMC3299842  PMID: 22127930
11.  Most Common SNPs Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis in Subjects of European Ancestry Confer Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis in African-Americans 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2010;62(12):3547-3553.
Objective
Large-scale genetic association studies have identified over 20 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk alleles among individuals of European ancestry. The influence of these risk alleles has not been comprehensively studied in African-Americans. We therefore sought to examine whether these validated RA risk alleles are associated with RA in an African-American population.
Methods
27 candidate SNPs were genotyped in 556 autoantibody-positive African-Americans with RA and 791 healthy African-American controls. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each SNP were compared to previously published ORs of RA patients of European ancestry. We then calculated a composite Genetic Risk Score (GRS) for each individual based on the sum of all risk alleles.
Results
There was overlap in the OR and 95% CI between the European and African-American populations in 24 of the 27 candidate SNPs. Conversely, 3 of the 27 SNPs (CCR6 rs3093023, TAGAP rs394581, TNFAIP3 rs6920220) demonstrated an OR in the opposite direction from those reported in RA patients of European ancestry. The GRS analysis indicated a small but highly significant probability that African-American cases were enriched for the European RA risk alleles relative to controls (p=0.00005).
Conclusion
The majority of RA risk alleles previously validated among European ancestry RA patients showed similar ORs in our population of African-Americans with RA. Furthermore, the aggregate GRS supports the hypothesis that these SNPs are risk alleles for RA in the African-American population. Future large-scale genetic studies are needed to validate these risk alleles and identify novel risk alleles for RA in African-Americans.
doi:10.1002/art.27732
PMCID: PMC3030622  PMID: 21120996
13.  Radiographic Severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis in African-Americans: Results from the CLEAR Registry 
Arthritis care & research  2010;62(5):624-631.
Objective
To describe radiographic changes in African-Americans with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) from the CLEAR (Consortium for the Longitudinal Evaluation of African-Americans with Early Rheumatoid Arthritis) Registry, a multicenter observational study.
Methods
Self-declared African-American patients, were enrolled in CLEAR I, a longitudinal cohort of early RA (disease duration <2 years) from 2000 to 2005; or in CLEAR II, a cross-sectional cohort (any disease duration), from 2006 to the present. Demographic and clinical data were obtained, and sets of hand/wrist and foot radiographs were scored using the modified Sharp/van der Heijde scoring system.
Results
A total of 357 and 418 patients, respectively, have been enrolled into CLEAR I and CLEAR II. We report here an interim analysis of radiographic severity in these patients. For the CLEAR I cohort, 294 patients had a mean radiographic score of 2.89 at the baseline visit; 32.0% showed either erosions (25.9%) or joint space narrowing (JSN) (19.4%). At the 36-month visit the mean score was 5.65; 44.2% had erosions, 41.5% JSN and 55.4% had either. Among those patients without radiographic damage at baseline, 18.9% had progressed at the 36-month visit, compared to 57.1% of those with baseline damage (p<0.0001). For the CLEAR II cohort, 167 patients with RA of any duration, 65.3% exhibited joint erosions, 65.3% JSN and 74.8% exhibited either. The mean radiographic score was 33.42.
Conclusion
This is the largest radiographic study of African American RA patients. Damage occurs early in the disease and is associated with radiographic progression at 3 years of disease duration. The CLEAR Registry will provide a valuable resource for future analyses of genetic, clinical, and environmental factors associated with radiographic severity of RA in African-Americans.
doi:10.1002/acr.20040
PMCID: PMC3052790  PMID: 20461784
14.  Genetic association of htSNPs across the major histocompatibility complex with rheumatoid arthritis in an African American population 
Genes and immunity  2009;11(1):94-97.
Notwithstanding the well established association of HLA-DRB1 shared epitope alleles, interest remains in identifying additional Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) region variants associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We used a panel of 1,201 haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) designed for African Americans to find genetic variants associated with RA in a 3.8 Mb region encompassing the MHC. Conditioning on seven covariates including HLA-DRB1 risk alleles and population structure, we identified a SNP in HLA-DOA (rs9276977) significantly associated with RA; minor allele frequency (MAF) 0.27 in cases versus 0.21 in controls: OR(±95% CI) = 2.86 (1.61, 5.31). Genotyping of rs9276977 in an independent sample of African-American RA patients and controls did not replicate the association (MAF 0.28 in cases versus 0.27 in controls). This study points to the potential association of a SNP in the HLA-DOA gene with RA in African-Americans, but also underscores the importance of replication of findings in larger patient cohorts.
doi:10.1038/gene.2009.69
PMCID: PMC2809137  PMID: 19741715
genetic association; MHC; HLA-DOA; African American; HLA-DRB1
15.  Association of IL4R single-nucleotide polymorphisms with rheumatoid nodules in African Americans with rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
To determine whether IL4R single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs1805010 (I50V) and rs1801275 (Q551R), which have been associated with disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients of European ancestry, relate to the presence of rheumatoid nodules and radiographic erosions in African Americans.
Methods
Two IL4R SNPs, rs1805010 and rs1801275, were genotyped in 749 patients from the Consortium for Longitudinal Evaluation of African-Americans with Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (CLEAR) registries. End points were rheumatoid nodules defined as present either by physical examination or by chest radiography and radiographic erosions (radiographs of hands/wrists and feet were scored using the modified Sharp/van der Heijde system). Statistical analyses were performed by using logistic regression modeling adjusted for confounding factors.
Results
Of the 749 patients with RA, 156 (20.8%) had rheumatoid nodules, with a mean age of 47.0 years, 84.6% female gender, and median disease duration of 1.9 years. Of the 461 patients with available radiographic data, 185 (40.1%) had erosions (score >0); their mean age was 46.7 years; 83.3% were women; and median disease duration was 1.5 years. Patients positive for HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) and autoantibodies (rheumatoid factor (RF) or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP)) had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid nodules in the presence of the AA and AG alleles of rs1801275 (odds ratio (OR)adj = 8.08 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.60-40.89), P = 0.01 and ORadj = 2.97 (95% CI, 1.08 to 8.17), P = 0.04, respectively). Likewise, patients positive for the HLA-DRB1 SE and RF alone had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid nodules in presence of the AA and AG alleles of rs1801275 (ORadj = 8.45 (95% CI, 1.57 to 45.44), P = 0.01, and ORadj = 3.57 (95% CI, 1.18 to 10.76), P = 0.02, respectively) and in the presence of AA allele of rs1805010 (ORadj = 4.52 (95% CI, 1.20 to 17.03), P = 0.03). No significant association was found between IL4R and radiographic erosions or disease susceptibility, although our statistical power was limited by relatively small numbers of cases and controls.
Conclusions
We found that IL4R SNPs, rs1801275 and rs1805010, are associated with rheumatoid nodules in autoantibody-positive African-American RA patients with at least one HLA-DRB1 allele encoding the SE. These findings highlight the need for analysis of genetic factors associated with clinical RA phenotypes in different racial/ethnic populations.
doi:10.1186/ar2994
PMCID: PMC2911851  PMID: 20444266
17.  Cigarette smoking, disease severity, and autoantibody expression in African Americans with recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2008;67(11):1529-1534.
Objective
To examine the association of smoking with clinical and serologic features in African Americans with recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to explore whether this association is dependent on the presence of the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE).
Methods
In African Americans with recent-onset RA (n = 300), we examined the association of cigarette smoking (current vs. past vs. never and pack-years of exposure) with anti-CCP antibody, rheumatoid factor (RF) (-IgM and -IgA), rheumatoid nodules, and baseline radiographic erosions using logistic and cumulative logistic regression (adjusting for SE status). We also examined for evidence of interaction between smoking status and SE for all outcomes.
Results
Although there was no association with RF-IgA seropositivity, current smokers were approximately twice as likely as never smokers to have higher IgA-RF concentrations (based on tertiles; OR = 1.74; 95% CI 1.05–2.88) and nodules (OR = 2.43; 95% CI 1.13–5.22). These associations were most pronounced in those with more than 20 pack-years of exposure. There was no association of smoking status or cumulative tobacco exposure with anti-CCP antibody, IgM-RF, or radiographic erosions. There was also no evidence of a biologic or statistical SE-smoking interaction for any of the outcomes examined.
Conclusion
This is the first study to systematically examine the association of cigarette smoking with RA-related features in African Americans. Cigarette smoking is associated with both subcutaneous nodules and higher serum concentrations of IgA-RF in African Americans with RA, associations that may have important implications for long-term outcomes in this population.
doi:10.1136/ard.2007.082669
PMCID: PMC2731992  PMID: 18198196
rheumatoid arthritis; African Americans; cigarette smoking; rheumatoid factor; anti-CCP antibody
18.  Understanding Personalized Medicine in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Clinician's Guide to the Future 
Personalized medicine refers to the utilization of technologies at the molecular level to understand disease processes and improve health outcomes. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA) some factors associated with disease outcome have been identified. These factors have not yet been integrated into a clinically useful tool to predict disease outcome in individual patients. Developments in pharmacogenomics are moving the field forward quite rapidly. Genetic variants, which may have a role in drug metabolism mediating either drug response or toxicity, have been identified for both traditional disease modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologic agents. Choosing a medication based on a patient's characteristics (sociodemographic, clinical, genetic) will result in better utilization of resources and better clinical outcomes. The ethical, political, and legal implications of personalized medicine need to be considered as well.
doi:10.1177/1759720X09351778
PMCID: PMC3383485  PMID: 22870431
biomarkers; disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs); personalized medicine; pharmacogenetics; pharmacogenomics
19.  An African Ancestry-Specific Allele of CTLA4 Confers Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis in African Americans 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(3):e1000424.
Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte associated protein 4 (CTLA4) is a negative regulator of T-cell proliferation. Polymorphisms in CTLA4 have been inconsistently associated with susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in populations of European ancestry but have not been examined in African Americans. The prevalence of RA in most populations of European and Asian ancestry is ∼1.0%; RA is purportedly less common in black Africans, with little known about its prevalence in African Americans. We sought to determine if CTLA4 polymorphisms are associated with RA in African Americans. We performed a 2-stage analysis of 12 haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across CTLA4 in a total of 505 African American RA patients and 712 African American controls using Illumina and TaqMan platforms. The minor allele (G) of the rs231778 SNP was 0.054 in RA patients, compared to 0.209 in controls (4.462×10−26, Fisher's exact). The presence of the G allele was associated with a substantially reduced odds ratio (OR) of having RA (AG+GG genotypes vs. AA genotype, OR 0.19, 95% CI: 0.13–0.26, p = 2.4×10−28, Fisher's exact), suggesting a protective effect. This SNP is polymorphic in the African population (minor allele frequency [MAF] 0.09 in the Yoruba population), but is very rare in other groups (MAF = 0.002 in 530 Caucasians genotyped for this study). Markers associated with RA in populations of European ancestry (rs3087243 [+60C/T] and rs231775 [+49A/G]) were not replicated in African Americans. We found no confounding of association for rs231778 after stratifying for the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope, presence of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody, or degree of admixture from the European population. An African ancestry-specific genetic variant of CTLA4 appears to be associated with protection from RA in African Americans. This finding may explain, in part, the relatively low prevalence of RA in black African populations.
Author Summary
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune condition affecting the synovial membranes of diarthrodial joints. The etiology of RA is unclear but is thought to result from an environmental trigger in the context of genetic predisposition. We report that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (rs231778) in CTLA4, which encodes a negative regulator of T cell activation, is associated (p = 2.4×10−28) with protection from developing RA among African Americans. rs231778 is only polymorphic in populations of African ancestry. Protective alleles such as this one may contribute to the purported lower prevalence of RA in African Americans. Our finding appears to be independent from confounding by linkage with the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope or by genetic admixture. Furthermore, we did not replicate associations of CTLA4 SNPs with RA or other autoimmune diseases previously reported in Asians and Caucasians, such as rs3087243 (+60C/T) and rs231775 (+49A/G). The associations of different SNPs with RA susceptibility specific to different populations highlight the importance of CTLA4 in the pathogenesis of RA and demonstrate the ethnic-specific genetic background that contributes to its susceptibility.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000424
PMCID: PMC2652071  PMID: 19300490
20.  Does gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) influence the development of chronic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis? 
Background
Recent studies have demonstrated a role for spinal p38 MAP kinase (MAPK) in the development of chronic inflammation and peripheral arthritis and a role for GABA in the inhibition of p38 MAPK mediated effects. Integrating these data suggests that GABA may play a role in downregulating mechanisms that lead to the production of proinflammatory agents such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and matrix metalloproteinase 3 – agents implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Genetic studies have also associated RA with members of the p38 MAPK pathway.
Hypothesis
We propose a hypothesis for an inefficient GABA signaling system that results in unchecked proinflammatory cytokine production via the p38 MAPK pathway. This model also supports the need for increasing research in the integration of immunology and neuroscience.
doi:10.1186/1742-2094-5-1
PMCID: PMC2235846  PMID: 18171484

Results 1-20 (20)