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1.  Comparison of the American-European Consensus Group Sjögren's syndrome classification criteria to newly proposed American College of Rheumatology criteria in a large, carefully characterized sicca cohort 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;73(1):10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203845.
To compare the performance of the American-European Consensus Group (AECG) and the newly proposed American College of Rheumatology (ACR) classification criteria for Sjögren's syndrome in a well-characterized sicca cohort, given ongoing efforts to resolve discrepancies and weaknesses in the systems.
In a multidisciplinary clinic for the evaluation of sicca, we assessed features of salivary and lacrimal gland dysfunction and autoimmunity as defined by tests of both AECG and ACR criteria in 646 participants. Global gene expression profiles were compared in a subset of 180 participants.
Application of the AECG and ACR criteria resulted in classification of 279 and 268 participants with SS, respectively. Both criteria were met by 244 participants (81%). In 26 of the 35 AECG+/ACR- participants, the minor salivary gland biopsy focal score was ≥1 (74%), while 9 had positive anti-Ro/La (26%). There were 24 AECG-/ACR+ who met ACR criteria mainly due to differences in the scoring of corneal staining. All patients with SS, regardless of classification, had similar gene expression profiles, which were distinct from the healthy controls.
The two sets of classification criteria yield concordant results in the majority of cases and gene expression profiling suggests that patients meeting either set of criteria are more similar to other SS participants than to healthy controls. Thus, there is no clear evidence for increased value of the new ACR criteria over the old AECG criteria from the clinical or biological perspective. It is our contention, supported by this report, that improvements in diagnostic acumen will require a more fundamental understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms than is at present available.
PMCID: PMC3855629  PMID: 23968620
Sjögren's syndrome; Classification; Diagnosis
2.  Expansion of the Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 10 (SCA10) Repeat in a Patient with Sioux Native American Ancestry 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81342.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 10 (SCA10), an autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia, is caused by the expansion of the non-coding ATTCT pentanucleotide repeat in the ATAXIN 10 gene. To date, all cases of SCA10 are restricted to patients with ancestral ties to Latin American countries. Here, we report on a SCA10 patient with Sioux Native American ancestry and no reported Hispanic or Latino heritage. Neurological exam findings revealed impaired gait with mild, age-consistent cerebellar atrophy and no evidence of epileptic seizures. The age at onset for this patient, at 83 years of age, is the latest documented for SCA10 patients and is suggestive of a reduced penetrance allele in his family. Southern blot analysis showed an SCA10 expanded allele of 1400 repeats. Established SNPs surrounding the SCA10 locus showed a disease haplotype consistent with the previously described “SCA10 haplotype”. This case suggests that the SCA10 expansion represents an early mutation event that possibly occurred during the initial peopling of the Americas.
PMCID: PMC3835687  PMID: 24278426
3.  Impact of Genetic Ancestry and Socio-Demographic Status on the Clinical Expression of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Amerindian-European Populations 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3687-3694.
Amerindian-Europeans, Asians and African-Americans have an excess morbidity from SLE and higher prevalence of lupus nephritis than Caucasians. The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between genetic ancestry and socio-demographic characteristics and clinical features in a large cohort of Amerindian-European SLE patients.
A total of 2116 SLE patients of Amerindian-European origin and 4001 SLE patients of European descent with clinical data were used in the study. Genotyping of 253 continental ancestry informative markers was performed on the Illumina platform. The STRUCTURE and ADMIXTURE software were used to determine genetic ancestry of each individual. Correlation between ancestry and socio-demographic and clinical data were analyzed using logistic regression.
The average Amerindian genetic ancestry of 2116 SLE patients was 40.7%. There was an increased risk of having renal involvement (P<0.0001, OR= 3.50 95%CI 2.63-4.63) and an early age of onset with the presence of Amerindian genetic ancestry (P<0.0001). Amerindian ancestry protected against photosensitivity (P<0.0001, OR= 0.58 95%CI 0.44-0.76), oral ulcers (P<0.0001, OR= 0.55 95%CI 0.42-0.72), and serositis (P<0.0001, OR= 0.56 95%CI 0.41-0.75) after adjustment by age, gender and age of onset. However, gender and age of onset had stronger effects on malar rash, discoid rash, arthritis and neurological involvement than genetic ancestry.
In general, genetic Amerindian ancestry correlates with lower socio-demographic status and increases the risk for developing renal involvement and SLE at an earlier age of onset.
PMCID: PMC3485439  PMID: 22886787
4.  Role of MYH9 and APOL1 in African and non-African populations with Lupus Nephritis 
Genes and Immunity  2011;13(3):232-238.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production and organ damage. Lupus nephritis (LN) is one of the most severe manifestations of SLE. Multiple studies reported associations between renal diseases and variants in the non-muscle myosin heavy chain 9 (MYH9) and the neighboring apolipoprotein L 1 (APOL1) genes. We evaluated 167 variants spanning MYH9 for association with LN in a multiethnic sample. The two previously identified risk variants in APOL1 were also tested for association with LN in European-Americans (EAs) (N = 579) and African-Americans (AAs) (N = 407). Multiple peaks of association exceeding a Bonferroni corrected p-value of p < 2.03 × 10−3 were observed between LN and MYH9 in EAs (N=4620), with the most pronounced association at rs2157257 (p = 4.7 × 10−4; odds ratio [OR]=1.205). A modest effect with MYH9 was also detected in Gullah (rs8136069, p = 0.0019, OR = 2.304). No association between LN and MYH9 was found in AAs, Asians, Amerindians or Hispanics. This study provides the first investigation of MYH9 in LN in non-Africans and of APOL1 in LN in any population and presents novel insight into the potential role of MYH9 in LN in EAs.
PMCID: PMC3330160  PMID: 22189356
MYH9; APOL1; lupus nephritis; systemic lupus erythematosus; multiethnic association study
5.  The Lupus Family Registry and Repository 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2010;50(1):47-59.
The Lupus Family Registry and Repository (LFRR) was established with the goal of assembling and distributing materials and data from families with one or more living members diagnosed with SLE, in order to address SLE genetics. In the present article, we describe the problems and solutions of the registry design and biometric data gathering; the protocols implemented to guarantee data quality and protection of participant privacy and consent; and the establishment of a local and international network of collaborators. At the same time, we illustrate how the LFRR has enabled progress in lupus genetics research, answering old scientific questions while laying out new challenges in the elucidation of the biologic mechanisms that underlie disease pathogenesis. Trained staff ascertain SLE cases, unaffected family members and population-based controls, proceeding in compliance with the relevant laws and standards; participant consent and privacy are central to the LFRR’s effort. Data, DNA, serum, plasma, peripheral blood and transformed B-cell lines are collected and stored, and subject to strict quality control and safety measures. Coded data and materials derived from the registry are available for approved scientific users. The LFRR has contributed to the discovery of most of the 37 genetic associations now known to contribute to lupus through 104 publications. The LFRR contains 2618 lupus cases from 1954 pedigrees that are being studied by 76 approved users and their collaborators. The registry includes difficult to obtain populations, such as multiplex pedigrees, minority patients and affected males, and constitutes the largest collection of lupus pedigrees in the world. The LFRR is a useful resource for the discovery and characterization of genetic associations in SLE.
PMCID: PMC3307518  PMID: 20864496
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Registry; Repository; Autoimmune diseases; Genetics; Heritability; Genome-wide association studies; Linkage analysis; Minorities; Women
6.  Uptake of genetic testing and long-term tumor surveillance in von Hippel-Lindau disease 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:4.
von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is a hereditary cancer syndrome caused by germline mutations in the VHL gene. Patients have significant morbidity and mortality secondary to vascular tumors. Disease management is centered on tumor surveillance that allows early detection and treatment. Presymptomatic genetic testing is therefore recommended, including in at-risk children.
We tested 17 families (n = 109 individuals) for VHL mutations including 43 children under the age of 18. Personalized genetic counseling was provided pre and post-test and the individuals undergoing presymptomatic testing filled out questionnaires gathering socio-demographic, psychological and psychiatric data. Mutation analysis was performed by direct sequencing of the VHL gene. Mutation-carriers were screened for VHL disease-related tumors and were offered follow-up annual examinations.
Mutations were identified in 36 patients, 17 of whom were asymptomatic. In the initial screening, we identified at least one tumor in five of 17 previously asymptomatic individuals. At the end of five years, only 38.9% of the mutation-carriers continued participating in our tumor surveillance program. During this time, 14 mutation carriers developed a total of 32 new tumors, three of whom died of complications. Gender, education, income, marital status and religiosity were not found to be associated with adherence to the surveillance protocol. Follow-up adherence was also independent of pre-test depression, severity of disease, or number of affected family members. The only statistically significant predictor of adherence was being symptomatic at the time of testing (OR = 5; 95% CI 1.2 - 20.3; p = 0.02). Pre-test anxiety was more commonly observed in patients that discontinued follow-up (64.7% vs. 35.3%; p = 0.01).
The high initial uptake rate of genetic testing for VHL disease, including in minors, allowed the discontinuation of unnecessary screening procedures in non mutation-carriers. However, mutation-carriers showed poor adherence to long-term tumor surveillance. Therefore, many of them did not obtain the full benefit of early detection and treatment, which is central to the reduction of morbidity and mortality in VHL disease. Studies designed to improve adherence to vigilance protocols will be necessary to improve treatment and quality of life in patients with hereditary cancer syndromes.
PMCID: PMC2822817  PMID: 20064270

Results 1-6 (6)