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1.  Multicenter Retrospective Analysis of the Effectiveness and Safety of Rituximab in Korean Patients with Refractory 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.
doi:10.1155/2012/565039
PMCID: PMC3523406  PMID: 23304457
2.  Preferential association of a functional variant in complement receptor 2 with antibodies to double-stranded DNA 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;75(1):242-252.
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-205584
PMCID: PMC4717392  PMID: 25180293
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Autoantibodies; Gene Polymorphism; B cells
3.  The beneficial effects of Tai Chi exercise on endothelial function and arterial stiffness in elderly women with rheumatoid arthritis 
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been known to be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Tai Chi exercise on CVD risk in elderly women with RA.
Method
In total, 56 female patients with RA were assigned to either a Tai Chi exercise group (29 patients) receiving a 3-month exercise intervention once a week or a control group (27 patients) receiving general information about the benefits of exercise. All participants were assessed at baseline and at 3 months for RA disease activity (Disease Activity Score 28 and Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3), functional disability (Health Assessment Questionnaire), CVD risk factors (blood pressure, lipids profile, body composition, and smoking), and three atherosclerotic measurements: carotid intima-media thickness, flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV).
Results
FMD, representative of endothelial function, significantly increased in the Tai Chi exercise group (initial 5.85 ± 2.05 versus 3 months 7.75 ± 2.53 %) compared with the control group (initial 6.31 ± 2.12 versus 3 months 5.78 ± 2.13 %) (P = 1.76 × 10−3). Moreover, baPWV, representative of arterial stiffness, significantly decreased in the Tai Chi exercise group (initial 1693.7 ± 348.3 versus 3 months 1600.1 ± 291.0 cm/s) compared with the control group (initial 1740.3 ± 185.3 versus 3 months 1792.8 ± 326.1 cm/s) (P = 1.57 × 10−2). In addition, total cholesterol decreased significantly in the Tai Chi exercise group compared with the control group (−7.8 ± 15.5 versus 2.9 ± 12.2 mg/dl, P = 2.72 × 10−2); other changes in RA-related characteristics were not significantly different between the two groups. Tai Chi exercise remained significantly associated with improved endothelial function (FMD; P = 4.32 × 10−3) and arterial stiffness (baPWV; P = 2.22 × 10−2) after adjustment for improvement in total cholesterol level.
Conclusion
Tai Chi exercise improved endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness in elderly women with RA, suggesting that it can be a useful behavioral strategy for CVD prevention in patients with RA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0893-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0893-x
PMCID: PMC4718020  PMID: 26702640
Rheumatoid arthritis; Tai Chi; Cardiovascular risk
4.  Risk for ACPA-positive rheumatoid arthritis is driven by shared HLA amino acid polymorphisms in Asian and European populations 
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.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddu387
PMCID: PMC4245039  PMID: 25070946
5.  An HLA-C amino-acid variant in addition to HLA-B*27 confers risk for ankylosing spondylitis in the Korean population 
Introduction
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0855-3
PMCID: PMC4662802  PMID: 26613595
6.  DC-Based Immunotherapy Combined with Low-Dose Methotrexate Effective in the Treatment of Advanced CIA in Mice 
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).
doi:10.1155/2015/834085
PMCID: PMC4499408  PMID: 26221616
7.  High-Density Genotyping of Immune Loci in Koreans and Europeans Identifies Eight New Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Loci 
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204749
PMCID: PMC4467986  PMID: 24532676
Rheumatoid arthritis; Gene polymorphism; Anti-CCP
8.  Allelic heterogeneity in NCF2 associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility across four ethnic populations 
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.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddt532
PMCID: PMC3929085  PMID: 24163247
9.  Construction and Application of a Korean Reference Panel for Imputing Classical Alleles and Amino Acids of Human Leukocyte Antigen Genes 
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112546
PMCID: PMC4232350  PMID: 25398076
10.  Targeted exon sequencing fails to identify rare coding variants with large effect in rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
Although it has been suggested that rare coding variants could explain the substantial missing heritability, very few sequencing studies have been performed in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We aimed to identify novel functional variants with rare to low frequency using targeted exon sequencing of RA in Korea.
Methods
We analyzed targeted exon sequencing data of 398 genes selected from a multifaceted approach in Korean RA patients (n = 1,217) and controls (n = 717). We conducted a single-marker association test and a gene-based analysis of rare variants. For meta-analysis or enrichment tests, we also used ethnically matched independent samples of Korean genome-wide association studies (GWAS) (n = 4,799) or immunochip data (n = 4,722).
Results
After stringent quality control, we analyzed 10,588 variants of 398 genes from 1,934 Korean RA case controls. We identified 13 nonsynonymous variants with nominal association in single-variant association tests. In a meta-analysis, we did not find any novel variant with genome-wide significance for RA risk. Using a gene-based approach, we identified 17 genes with nominal burden signals. Among them, VSTM1 showed the greatest association with RA (P = 7.80 × 10−4). In the enrichment test using Korean GWAS, although the significant signal appeared to be driven by total genic variants, we found no evidence for enriched association of coding variants only with RA.
Conclusions
We were unable to identify rare coding variants with large effect to explain the missing heritability for RA in the current targeted resequencing study. Our study raises skepticism about exon sequencing of targeted genes for complex diseases like RA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0447-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0447-7
PMCID: PMC4203956  PMID: 25267259
11.  Genetics of rheumatoid arthritis contributes to biology and drug discovery 
Okada, Yukinori | Wu, Di | Trynka, Gosia | Raj, Towfique | Terao, Chikashi | Ikari, Katsunori | Kochi, Yuta | Ohmura, Koichiro | Suzuki, Akari | Yoshida, Shinji | Graham, Robert R. | Manoharan, Arun | Ortmann, Ward | Bhangale, Tushar | Denny, Joshua C. | Carroll, Robert J. | Eyler, Anne E. | Greenberg, Jeffrey D. | Kremer, Joel M. | Pappas, Dimitrios A. | Jiang, Lei | Yin, Jian | Ye, Lingying | Su, Ding-Feng | Yang, Jian | Xie, Gang | Keystone, Ed | Westra, Harm-Jan | Esko, Tõnu | Metspalu, Andres | Zhou, Xuezhong | Gupta, Namrata | Mirel, Daniel | Stahl, Eli A. | Diogo, Dorothée | Cui, Jing | Liao, Katherine | Guo, Michael H. | Myouzen, Keiko | Kawaguchi, Takahisa | Coenen, Marieke J.H. | van Riel, Piet L.C.M. | van de Laar, Mart A.F.J. | Guchelaar, Henk-Jan | Huizinga, Tom W.J. | Dieudé, Philippe | Mariette, Xavier | Bridges, S. Louis | Zhernakova, Alexandra | Toes, Rene E.M. | Tak, Paul P. | Miceli-Richard, Corinne | Bang, So-Young | Lee, Hye-Soon | Martin, Javier | Gonzalez-Gay, Miguel A. | Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Luis | Rantapää-Dahlqvist, Solbritt | Ärlestig, Lisbeth | Choi, Hyon K. | Kamatani, Yoichiro | Galan, Pilar | Lathrop, Mark | Eyre, Steve | Bowes, John | Barton, Anne | de Vries, Niek | Moreland, Larry W. | Criswell, Lindsey A. | Karlson, Elizabeth W. | Taniguchi, Atsuo | Yamada, Ryo | Kubo, Michiaki | Liu, Jun S. | Bae, Sang-Cheol | Worthington, Jane | Padyukov, Leonid | Klareskog, Lars | Gregersen, Peter K. | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Stranger, Barbara E. | De Jager, Philip L. | Franke, Lude | Visscher, Peter M. | Brown, Matthew A. | Yamanaka, Hisashi | Mimori, Tsuneyo | Takahashi, Atsushi | Xu, Huji | Behrens, Timothy W. | Siminovitch, Katherine A. | Momohara, Shigeki | Matsuda, Fumihiko | Yamamoto, Kazuhiko | Plenge, Robert M.
Nature  2013;506(7488):376-381.
A major challenge in human genetics is to devise a systematic strategy to integrate disease-associated variants with diverse genomic and biological datasets to provide insight into disease pathogenesis and guide drug discovery for complex traits such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA)1. Here, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis in a total of >100,000 subjects of European and Asian ancestries (29,880 RA cases and 73,758 controls), by evaluating ~10 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We discovered 42 novel RA risk loci at a genome-wide level of significance, bringing the total to 1012–4. We devised an in-silico pipeline using established bioinformatics methods based on functional annotation5, cis-acting expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL)6, and pathway analyses7–9 – as well as novel methods based on genetic overlap with human primary immunodeficiency (PID), hematological cancer somatic mutations and knock-out mouse phenotypes – to identify 98 biological candidate genes at these 101 risk loci. We demonstrate that these genes are the targets of approved therapies for RA, and further suggest that drugs approved for other indications may be repurposed for the treatment of RA. Together, this comprehensive genetic study sheds light on fundamental genes, pathways and cell types that contribute to RA pathogenesis, and provides empirical evidence that the genetics of RA can provide important information for drug discovery.
doi:10.1038/nature12873
PMCID: PMC3944098  PMID: 24390342
12.  Variation in the ICAM1–ICAM4–ICAM5 locus is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus susceptibility in multiple ancestries 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;71(11):1809-1814.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusion
These findings are the first to suggest that an ICAM–integrin-mediated pathway contributes to susceptibility to SLE.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-201110
PMCID: PMC3466387  PMID: 22523428
13.  A Case of Peritoneal Tuberculosis Developed after Infliximab Therapy for Refractory RA 
Recently, interferon gamma releasing assay has been recommended to compensate the tuberculin skin test (TST) for screening for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Although it improved the detection of LTBI before treatment with tumor necrosis factor blocker, its application to immune suppressed patients is limited. We report a case of peritoneal tuberculosis (TB) developed in a patient who tested positive for TST and QuantiFERON-TB Gold (QFT-G) before infliximab therapy, to emphasize the importance of monitoring during treatment. A 52-year-old woman presented with abdominal distension. She had been diagnosed with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis six years ago. She had started taking infliximab six months ago. All screening tests for TB were performed and the results of all were negative. At admission, the results of repeated TST and QFT-G tests were positive. Histopathological examination confirmed peritoneal TB. The patient started anti-TB therapy and the symptoms were relieved.
doi:10.4046/trd.2012.73.4.234
PMCID: PMC3492425  PMID: 23166560
Peritonitis, Tuberculous; Infliximab
14.  Five amino acids in three HLA proteins explain most of the association between MHC and seropositive rheumatoid arthritis 
Nature genetics  2012;44(3):291-296.
The genetic association of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) to rheumatoid arthritis risk has commonly been attributed to HLA-DRB1 alleles. Yet controversy persists about the causal variants in HLA-DRB1 and the presence of independent effects elsewhere in the MHC. Using existing genome-wide SNP data in 5,018 seropositive cases and 14,974 controls, we imputed and tested classical alleles and amino acid polymorphisms for HLA-A, B, C, DPA1, DPB1, DQA1, DQB1, and DRB1 along with 3,117 SNPs across the MHC. Conditional and haplotype analyses reveal that three amino acid positions (11, 71 and 74) in HLA-DRβ1, and single amino acid polymorphisms in HLA-B (position 9) and HLA-DPβ1 (position 9), all located in the peptide-binding grooves, almost completely explain the MHC association to disease risk. This study illustrates how imputation of functional variation from large reference panels can help fine-map association signals in the MHC.
doi:10.1038/ng.1076
PMCID: PMC3288335  PMID: 22286218
15.  A fatal case of hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation during long-term, very-low-dose steroid treatment in an inactive HBV carrier 
Clinical and molecular hepatology  2012;18(2):225-228.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) may be reactivated after chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy, and therefore administration of antiviral agents before such treatment is recommended. Most reported cases of reactivation are associated with high doses of immunosuppressive agents or combination therapy. We present a case of a previously inactive HBV carrier with an acute severe flare-up during a long-term, very-low-dose (2.5 mg/day) steroid treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. We suggest that even a minimal dose of single-regimen oral steroid can cause reactivation of indolent, inactive HBV.
doi:10.3350/cmh.2012.18.2.225
PMCID: PMC3415881  PMID: 22893874
Hepatitis B virus; Liver failure; Steroids; Virus activation
16.  Lack of Association of Caucasian Rheumatoid Arthritis Susceptibility Loci in a Korean Population 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(2):364-371.
Objective
Recent studies have identified a number of novel rheumatoid arthritis (RA) loci in Caucasian populations. In this study, we sought to determine whether the genetic variants at 4q27, 6q23, CCL21, TRAF1/C5, and CD40 identified in Caucasians are also associated with RA in a Korean case-control collection. We also comprehensively evaluated the genetic variation within PTPN22, a well established autoimmune disease-associated gene.
Methods
We designed a Sequenom iPlex experiment to thoroughly evaluate the PTPN22 linkage disequilibrium region using tag SNPs and disease-associated SNPs at 5 other previously reported Caucasian RA-associated loci in 1123 RA Korean RA patients and 1008 ethnically matched controls. We also re-sequenced the PTPN22 gene to look for novel coding variants that might be contributing to disease in this population.
Results
None of the Caucasian RA susceptibility loci contributed significantly to disease in Koreans. Tag SNPs covering the PTPN22 linkage disequilibrium block, while polymorphic, did not reveal any disease association and re-sequencing did not identify any new common coding region variants in this population. The 6q23 and 4q27 SNPs assayed were non-polymorphic in this population and the TRAF1/C5, CD40, and CCL21 SNPs did not show any evidence for association.
Conclusions
Caucasian and Korean rheumatoid arthritis have different genetic risk factors. While patients of different ethnic groups share the HLA region as a major genetic risk locus, most other genes shown to be significantly associated with disease in Caucasians appear not to play a role in Korean RA.
doi:10.1002/art.24245
PMCID: PMC2770844  PMID: 19180477
17.  STAT4 and the Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
The New England journal of medicine  2007;357(10):977-986.
BACKGROUND
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease with a substantial genetic component. Susceptibility to disease has been linked with a region on chromosome 2q.
METHODS
We tested single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in and around 13 candidate genes within the previously linked chromosome 2q region for association with rheumatoid arthritis. We then performed fine mapping of the STAT1-STAT4 region in a total of 1620 case patients with established rheumatoid arthritis and 2635 controls, all from North America. Implicated SNPs were further tested in an independent case-control series of 1529 patients with early rheumatoid arthritis and 881 controls, all from Sweden, and in a total of 1039 case patients and 1248 controls from three series of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.
RESULTS
A SNP haplotype in the third intron of STAT4 was associated with susceptibility to both rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. The minor alleles of the haplotype-defining SNPs were present in 27% of chromosomes of patients with established rheumatoid arthritis, as compared with 22% of those of controls (for the SNP rs7574865, P = 2.81×10-7; odds ratio for having the risk allele in chromosomes of patients vs. those of controls, 1.32). The association was replicated in Swedish patients with recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis (P = 0.02) and matched controls. The haplotype marked by rs7574865 was strongly associated with lupus, being present on 31% of chromosomes of case patients and 22% of those of controls (P = 1.87×10-9; odds ratio for having the risk allele in chromosomes of patients vs. those of controls, 1.55). Homozygosity of the risk allele, as compared with absence of the allele, was associated with a more than doubled risk for lupus and a 60% increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
CONCLUSIONS
A haplotype of STAT4 is associated with increased risk for both rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, suggesting a shared pathway for these illnesses.
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa073003
PMCID: PMC2630215  PMID: 17804842
18.  Several Regions in the Major Histocompatibility Complex Confer Risk for Anti-CCP-Antibody Positive Rheumatoid Arthritis, Independent of the DRB1 Locus 
Molecular Medicine  2008;14(5-6):293-300.
Recent evidence suggests that additional risk loci for RA are present in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), independent of the class II HLA-DRB1 locus. We have now tested a total of 1,769 SNPs across 7.5Mb of the MHC located from 6p22.2 (26.03 Mb) to 6p21.32 (33.59 Mb) derived from the Illumina 550K Beadchip (Illumina, San Diego, CA, USA). For an initial analysis in the whole dataset (869 RA CCP + cases, 1,193 controls), the strongest association signal was observed in markers near the HLA-DRB1 locus, with additional evidence for association extending out into the Class I HLA region. To avoid confounding that may arise due to linkage disequilibrium with DRB1 alleles, we analyzed a subset of the data by matching cases and controls by DRB1 genotype (both alleles matched 1:1), yielding a set of 372 cases with 372 controls. This analysis revealed the presence of at least two regions of association with RA in the Class I region, independent of DRB1 genotype. SNP alleles found on the conserved A1-B8-DR3 (8.1) haplotype show the strongest evidence of positive association (P ~ 0.00005) clustered in the region around the HLA-C locus. In addition, we identified risk alleles that are not present on the 8.1 haplotype, with maximal association signals (P ~ 0.001–0.0027) located near the ZNF311 locus. This latter association is enriched in DRB1*0404 individuals. Finally, several additional association signals were found in the extreme centromeric portion of the MHC, in regions containing the DOB1, TAP2, DPB1, and COL11A2 genes. These data emphasize that further analysis of the MHC is likely to reveal genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis that are independent of the DRB1 shared epitope alleles.
doi:10.2119/2007-00123.Lee
PMCID: PMC2255558  PMID: 18309376
19.  A comparison of founder-only and all-pedigree-members genotype-expression association by regression analysis 
BMC Proceedings  2007;1(Suppl 1):S8.
Genotype-expression association analysis using linear regression may produce different test results depending on whether founders only or all pedigreed members are used. This difference is not due to the correlation of samples within a pedigree, because linear mixed models have been applied to account for that correlation. We investigated the possibility that the difference is due to a dependence of expression levels on, among other things, the generation number in the pedigree. Indeed, of the 30 or so studied expression quantitative traits, several of them show significant dependence on the generation number. We propose to use all pedigree members in genotype-expression association analyses whenever the complete genotyping information is available.
PMCID: PMC2367500  PMID: 18466582
20.  Association of STAT4 with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Korean Population 
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.
doi:10.2119/2007-00072.Lee
PMCID: PMC2014726  PMID: 17932559
21.  Eosinophilic Fasciitis Associated with Autoimmune Thyroiditis 
Eosinophilic fasciitis (EF) is scleroderma-like disease without Raynaud's phenomenon or visceral involvement. It is characterized by painful swelling of the extremities, accompanied by rapid weight gain, fever and myalgia. The acute state of disease is associated with significant peripheral blood eosinophilia, an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate and hypergammaglobulinemia. EF is also frequently associated with hematological abnormalities, including malignant lymphoproliferative diseases, but rarely associated with autoimmune thyroiditis. In the present study we report a case of eosinophilic fasciitis associated with autoimmune thyroiditis.
doi:10.3904/kjim.2005.20.2.180
PMCID: PMC3891391  PMID: 16134777
Fasciitis; Eosinophilia; Autoimmune thyroiditis
22.  Adult-onset Still's Disease with Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation and Multiple Organ Dysfunctions Dramatically Treated with Cyclosporine A 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2004;19(1):137-141.
Severe systemic manifestations of adult onset Still's disease (AOSD) are often fatal and occasionally related to hemophagocytic syndrome (HS). We describe the case of a 49-yr-old woman with AOSD presenting with non-remitting high fever, confusion, jaundice, hepatosplenomegaly, serositis, azotemia, pancytopenia, coagulopathy with disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), hyperferritinemia, acute acalculous cholecystitis and ileocolitis noted in computed tomographic images. The patient had a history of herpes zoster developed prior to the admission, but there is no history of diarrhea or abdominal pain. Although bone marrow examination was not performed due to hemorrhagic diathesis, we suspected AOSD-associated HS on the basis of clinical course without detectable infectious agents in cultures or serologic studies. Intravenous immunoglobulin, pulse methylprednisolone, oral cyclosporine A (CsA) and ceftriaxone brought about transient improvement of fever and confusion, but the disease progressed. After increasing CsA dose, all previously mentioned abnormalities disappeared rapidly. Accordingly, we believe that DIC and multiple organ dysfunctions might have been the complications of HS but not that of sepsis, and that CsA can be used as a first-line therapy in case of life-threatening situations.
doi:10.3346/jkms.2004.19.1.137
PMCID: PMC2822251  PMID: 14966357
Still's Disease, Adult-onset; Hemophagocytic Syndrome; Cyclosporins
23.  A Korean rheumatic diseases screening questionnaire. 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2003;18(2):171-178.
The aim of our study was to develop a Korean rheumatic diseases-screening questionnaire. The questionnaire was constructed based on American College of Rheumatology criteria for rheumatic diseases and a connective tissue diseases screening questionnaire. Two groups of patients were selected and completed the questionnaire: (i) those with osteoarthritis (n=46), rheumatoid arthritis (n=52), systemic lupus erythematosus (n=50), scleroderma (n=8), polymyositis or dermatomyositis (n=7), Sjogren's disease (n=4), and mixed connective-tissue disease (n=9) as case subjects; and (ii) those with fibromyalgia (n=8) and general disease without evidence of any rheumatic disease (n=72) as controls. Laboratory results were analyzed for correlation with actual data using kappa (kappa) statistics. Test-retest reliability was performed in 12 patients, and showed strong agreement between the first and second interviews (kappa=0.91). The sensitivity of the questionnaire ranged from 77.8 to 100%, and specificity ranged from 68.8 to 95.0%. Negative predictive values were very high in the general population, from 98.4 to 99.99%. The kappa statistic for agreement between laboratory items was 0.22-0.56, except for rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibody test, and muscle enzyme level. We have developed a simple and sensitive Korean rheumatic diseases-screening questionnaire for the epidemiologic study of rheumatic diseases in Korea.
PMCID: PMC3055029  PMID: 12692412
24.  Undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy in Korea: focusing on peripheral arthritis. 
Undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy (USpA) includes the forms that do not meet criteria for the established categories of spondyloarthropathy. The clinical spectrum of USpA is therefore wide and few studies have been published on USpA, especially peripheral arthritis. A total of 107 patients fulfilling the European Spondyloarthropathy Study Group criteria for SpA were studied retrospectively by a chart review and interview by a rheumatologist. Peripheral arthritis, excluding hip and shoulder involvement, occurred in 97 of the 107 patients (91%). Joint involvement tended to be monoarticular or pauciarticular, and most frequently developed in peripheral joints including the knee and ankle. Among the 97 patients with peripheral arthritis, only 37 (35%) had a persistent arthritis. HLA-B27 was detected in 80 patients (78%). Peripheral arthritis was found in the lower extremities regardless of symmetry or asymmetry and tended to run a benign course with only a few patients having persistent arthritis.
PMCID: PMC3054814  PMID: 11850592
25.  Association Between FcgammaR IIa and IIIa polymorphism and clinical manifestations in Korean patients with adult-onset Still's disease. 
High-dose intravenous immunoglobulins alter the disease activity of adult-onset Still's disease (AOSD). Because activation status of FcgammaR is possibly dependent on their genetic polymorphisms, we investigated whether the polymorphisms of FcgammaR IIa and IIIa are risk factors, and affect the clinical features of AOSD. Genomic DNA was extracted from 36 patients and from 197 healthy controls. Polymerase chain reaction for FcgammaR IIa and IIIa using the allele-specific primers and direct sequencing of FcgammaR IIIa polymorphic site were performed. The frequencies of FcgammaR IIa/IIIa genotype between patients with AOSD and controls were not different. The allelic frequencies of FcgammaR IIa/IIIa between patients with AOSD and controls were not different, either. However, the FcgammaR IIa-R/R131 genotype was associated with a higher concentration of hemoglobin (p=0.04) and stable liver function (p=0.009) than the other genotypes. The FcgammaR IIIa-F/F176 genotype was associated with significantly lower titers of serum ferritin (p=0.025), and higher serum albumin (p=0.037) and cholesterol (p=0.014) concentrations than the other genotypes. This study suggest that the FcgammaR IIa and IIIa polymorphisms might not be genetic risk factors for AOSD in Korean, but contribute to the activity of disease. FcgammaR IIa-R/R131 and IIIa-F/F176 genotypes, low-binding genotypes for IgG2a and G1, may have more protective effects in acute stage of the disease than the other genotypes.
PMCID: PMC3054835  PMID: 11850593

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