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1.  Low Baseline Interleukin-17A Levels Are Associated with Better Treatment Response at 12 Weeks to Tocilizumab Therapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients 
Journal of Immunology Research  2015;2015:487230.
T helper 17-related cytokines have been implicated in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathogenesis. The study aimed to identify cytokines associated with the treatment response of RA patients to tocilizumab (TCZ), a humanized monoclonal antibody against the interleukin- (IL-) 6 receptor. As an independent substudy of the 24-week, randomized, double-blinded CWP-TCZ301 trial of TCZ in RA patients with an inadequate response to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, serum levels of cytokines including tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-17A, IL-21, IL-23, IL-6, and soluble IL-6 receptor were measured. Baseline IL-17A levels were significantly lower in RA patients who achieved disease activity score 28 (DAS28) remission at 12 weeks of TCZ treatment, compared to patients not in remission. Patients were stratified into IL-17A low group and IL-17A high group. Significantly more patients in the IL-17A low group achieved remission as compared to the IL-17A high group (47.6 versus 17.4%, P = 0.032). DAS28 improvement was significantly better in the IL-17A low group than in the IL-17A high group at 12 weeks (P = 0.045) and 24 weeks (P = 0.046) after adjustment. Other baseline cytokines were not associated with treatment response to TCZ. The data demonstrate that low baseline IL-17A levels are associated with better clinical response to TCZ treatment in RA patients.
PMCID: PMC4398953  PMID: 25922848
2.  Cost-of-Illness and Quality of Life in Patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis at a Tertiary Hospital in Korea 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2014;29(2):190-197.
The objectives of this study were to estimate the cost-of-illness (COI) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in Korea and to evaluate the effects of socio-demographic and clinical factors on the COI and the HRQOL. Face-to-face interview surveys were taken from patients with AS at the Rheumatology Clinic of Seoul National University Hospital. Direct medical and non-medical costs, indirect costs (productivity loss due to job loss and sick leave), and deterioration of HRQOL in patients with AS were measured. Factors associated with COI and HRQOL were analyzed with multiple regression and multivariate logistic regression. A total of 191 patients with AS was enrolled in the study. The COI in patients with AS amounted to 11,646,180 Korean Won (KRW) per patient, and their HRQOL was 0.62. As functional severity worsened, the total costs increased (class I, KRW 7.7 million; class II, KRW 12.9 million; classes III & IV, KRW 25.2 million) and the HRQOL scores decreased (class I, 0.72; class II, 0.61; classes III & IV, 0.24). Functional severity is the major determinant of the COI and HRQOL in patients with AS.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC3923996  PMID: 24550644
Spondylitis, Ankylosing; Arthritis, Rheumatoid; Cost; Quality of Life
3.  A Clinical Trial and Extension Study of Infliximab in Korean Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis despite Methotrexate Treatment 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2013;28(12):1716-1722.
Currently, infliximab is given for disease control for active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients despite methotrexate treatment. However, the efficacy and safety of infliximab in Korean patients has not been assessed appropriately. Therefore, we performed placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized study and extension study. One-hundred forty-three patients with active RA were randomized to receive placebo or infliximab 3 mg/kg intravenously at week 0, 2, 6, 14, and 22 with methotrexate maintenance. Primary endpoint was American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement criteria (ACR20) at 30 week. After the clinical trial, patients on placebo (Group 1) and patients on infliximab who showed ACR20 response (Group 2) were treated with infliximab through another 84 week for evaluation of safety. During clinical trial, patients in infliximab group showed higher ACR20 at week 30 than patients in placebo group (50.1% vs 30.6%, P=0.014). A total of 92 patients participated in the extension study. The maintenance rate of infliximab was 62.0% at 84 weeks of extension study. The overall rate of adverse events was not different between Group 1 and Group 2. In Korean patients with active RA despite methotrexate treatment, infliximab in combination with methotrexate is effective and the long-term treatment with infliximab is well tolerated. ( No. NCT00202852, NCT00732875)
PMCID: PMC3857365  PMID: 24339699
Arthritis, Rheumatoid; Infliximab; Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial; Extension Study; Efficacy; Adverse Event
4.  Serum Elastin-Derived Peptides and Anti-Elastin Antibody in Patients with Systemic Sclerosis 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2012;27(5):484-488.
The elastin metabolism in systemic sclerosis (SSc) has been known to be abnormal. The authors investigated relationship between the clinical manifestations of systemic sclerosis (SSc) and serum levels of soluble elastin-derived peptide (S-EDP) and anti-elastin antibodies. Serum samples were obtained from 79 patients with SSc and 79 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Concentrations of serum S-EDP and anti-elastin antibodies were measured by ELISA. The serum concentrations of S-EDP in SSc patients were significantly higher than in healthy controls (median, 144.44 ng/mL vs 79.59 ng/mL, P < 0.001). Serum EDP concentrations were found to be correlated with disease duration in SSc (P = 0.002) and particularly in diffuse cutaneous SSc (P = 0.005). Levels of anti-elastin antibodies were found to be more elevated in SSc patients than in healthy controls (median, 0.222 U vs 0.191 U, P = 0.049), more increased in diffuse cutaneous SSc than limited cutaneous SSc (median, 0.368 U vs 0.204 U, P = 0.031). In addition, levels of anti-elastin antibodies were also found to be negatively associated with presence of anti-centromere antibody (P = 0.023). The S-EDP levels were not found to be correlated with levels of anti-elastin antibodies. The increased S-EDP and anti-elastin antibody levels and association with clinical and laboratory characteristics may reflect the abnormal metabolism in SSc.
PMCID: PMC3342537  PMID: 22563211
Elastin; Elastin-Derived Peptide; Systemic Sclerosis
5.  Gene Expression Profile during Chondrogenesis in Human Bone Marrow derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells using a cDNA Microarray 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2011;26(7):851-858.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the capacity to proliferate and differentiate into multiple connective tissue lineages, which include cartilage, bone, and fat. Cartilage differentiation and chondrocyte maturation are required for normal skeletal development, but the intracellular pathways regulating this process remain largely unclear. This study was designed to identify novel genes that might help clarify the molecular mechanisms of chondrogenesis. Chondrogenesis was induced by culturing human bone marrow (BM) derived MSCs in micromass pellets in the presence of defined medium for 3, 7, 14 or 21 days. Several genes regulated during chondrogenesis were then identified by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Using an ABI microarray system, we determined the differential gene expression profiles of differentiated chondrocytes and BM-MSCs. Normalization of this data resulted in the identification of 1,486 differentially expressed genes. To verify gene expression profiles determined by microarray analysis, the expression levels of 10 genes with high fold changes were confirmed by RT-PCR. Gene expression patterns of 9 genes (Hrad6B, annexinA2, BMP-7, contactin-1, peroxiredoxin-1, heat shock transcription factor-2, synaptotagmin IV, serotonin receptor-7, Axl) in RT-PCR were similar to the microarray gene expression patterns. These findings provide novel information concerning genes involved in the chondrogenesis of human BM-MSCs.
PMCID: PMC3124712  PMID: 21738335
Chondrogenesis; Mesenchymal Stem Cells; cDNA Microarray
6.  A Case of Renal Crisis in a Korean Scleroderma Patient with Anti-RNA polymerase I and III Antibodies 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2006;21(6):1121-1123.
Scleroderma (SSc) renal crisis has been reported to be associated with anti-RNA polymerase I and III (RNAP I/III) antibodies in Caucasians and the Japanese. However, no report is available for Korean SSc patients. Here, we describe the case of a 65-yr-old female SSc patient who developed renal crisis and whose serum contained anti-RNAP I/III antibodies. She was finally diagnosed as having diffuse cutaneous SSc based on skin thickening proximal to the elbows and knees. Sudden hypertension, oliguria, and pulmonary edema were features of her renal crisis. Despite the use of captopril and adequate blood pressure control, her renal function deteriorated. Subsequent renal biopsy findings showed severe fibrinoid necrosis with luminal obliteration in interlobar arteries and arterioles consistent with SSc renal crisis. Serum anti-RNAP I/III antibodies were detected by radioimmunoprecipitation. This is the first report of a renal crisis in a Korean SSc patient with RNAP I/III antibodies.
PMCID: PMC2721942  PMID: 17179700
Scleroderma, Systemic; Autoantibodies; RNA Polymerase III; RNA Polymerase I
7.  Clinical Features of Polyarteritis Nodosa in Korea 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2006;21(4):591-595.
Polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) is a systemic vasculitis characterized by multi-organ involvement with protean manifestations. We evaluated the clinical features of PAN in Korea. Twenty-seven patients were diagnosed as PAN at Seoul National University Hospital between January 1990 and July 2003. The male-to-female ratio was 1.7:1 and mean age at onset (±SD) was 47.4±20 yr. Their presenting features at diagnosis were similar to those reported previously, i.e., myalgia, muscle weakness or leg tenderness (70%), fever (52%), weight loss >4 kg (44%), skin rash (44%), peripheral edema (33%), abdominal pain (33%), and arthralgia/arthritis (30%). However, the prevalence of testicular pain or tenderness was higher (24%) than reported previously and only three (11.5%) had HBsAg positivity without liver enzyme elevation. Nine patients (33%) had a five-factor score (FFS) of 2. Fourteen patients (52%) responded to treatment, 2 patients relapsed and 4 died within 1 yr of diagnosis. During a median follow-up of 55.5 months, three of the four PAN-related deaths had an initial FFS of 2. The clinical features of PAN were not significantly different from those reported previously. However, testicular pain or tenderness was more frequent and patients with a high FFS tended to have a poorer prognosis.
PMCID: PMC2729876  PMID: 16891798
Polyarteritis Nodosa; Vasculitis
8.  Comparison of the efficacy and safety profiles of a pelubiprofen versus celecoxib in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a 6-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, phase III, non-inferiority clinical trial 
Pelubiprofen is a prodrug of 2-arylpropionic acid with relatively selective effects on cyclooxygenase-2 activity. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety profiles of pelubiprofen with those of celecoxib in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
This was a 6-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group, phase III, non-inferiority clinical trial. The primary end point was non-inferiority of pain decrease from baseline to week-6 as determined using a 100 mm pain visual analog scale (VAS). Pelubiprofen was considered non-inferior to celecoxib if the lower limit of the 97.5% confidence interval for treatment difference [(pain reduction in pelubiprofen group) – (pain reduction in celecoxib group)] was more than −10 mm. The secondary end points were as follows: non-inferiority of (1) reduction of Korean health assessment questionnaire (KHAQ) score; (2) decreased duration of morning stiffness; and (3) decrease in the frequency and total dose of rescue drugs after 6 weeks of treatment.
Seventy-seven patients in the pelubiprofen group and 68 patients in the celecoxib group started the study medication. Pelubiprofen was non-inferior to celecoxib with regard to reduction in VAS pain severity (difference, mean ± SD 5.0 ± 20.1; 97.5% CI, −2.3 to ∞). Pelubiprofen was also non-inferior to celecoxib in terms of the secondary end points, such as, decrease in KHAQ score (0.0 ± 0.5, 97.5% CI −0.2 to ∞), decrease in duration of morning stiffness (median 0.0 minute in both groups), and decrease in the frequency (0.7 ± 3.5, 97.5% CI −0.6 to ∞) and total amount (0.7 ± 3.6, 97.5% CI −0.6 to ∞) of rescue medication uses during the 6 week study period. Safety analysis revealed 31.2% patients in the pelubiprofen group and 20.6% patients in the celecoxib group experienced an adverse drug reaction (ADR). The frequency of gastrointestinal ADRs was 20.8 % and 8.8%, respectively.
Pelubiprofen was found to be as effective as celecoxib at pain reduction and for relieving stiffness in RA patients. However, more patients in the pelubiprofen group experienced ADR and the frequency of gastrointestinal ADRs was higher in the pelubiprofen group. identifier: NCT01781702.
PMCID: PMC4247700  PMID: 25403311
Rheumatoid arthritis; Pelubiprofen; Celecoxib; Non-inferiority
9.  Comparison of cancer incidence among patients with rheumatic disease: a retrospective cohort study 
Rheumatic diseases (RDs) are associated with different cancers; however, it is unclear whether particular cancers are more prevalent in certain RDs. In the present study, we examined the relative incidence of several cancers in a single homogeneous cohort of patients with different RDs.
Patients (N = 3,586) diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic sclerosis (SSc), dermatomyositis (DM) or polymyositis were included. Cancer diagnosis was based on histopathology. The 2008 Korean National Cancer Registry served as the reference for calculating standardized incidence ratios (SIRs).
During the follow-up period of 31,064 person-years, 187 patients developed cancer. RA and SLE patients showed an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (SIR for RA patients = 3.387, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.462 to 6.673; SIR for SLE patients = 7.408, 95% CI = 2.405 to 17.287). SLE patients also had a higher risk of cervical cancer (SIR = 4.282, 95% CI = 1.722 to 8.824). SSc patients showed a higher risk of lung cancer (SIR = 4.917, 95% CI = 1.977 to 10.131). Endometrial cancer was increased only in patients with DM (SIR = 30.529, 95% CI = 3.697 to 110.283). RA patients had a lower risk for gastric cancer (SIR = 0.663, 95% CI = 0.327 to 0.998). The mean time between the RD and cancer diagnoses ranged from 0.1 to 16.6 years, with the shortest time observed in patients with DM (2.0 ± 2.1 years).
Different RDs are associated with particular cancers. Thus, cancer surveillance tailored to specific RDs might be beneficial.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0428-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4295295  PMID: 25163486
10.  Therapeutic effect of anti-C-X-C motif chemokine 10 (CXCL10) antibody on C protein-induced myositis mouse 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(3):R126.
C-X-C motif chemokine 10 (CXCL10) is a chemokine that plays a critical role in the infiltration of T cells in autoimmune diseases and is reported to be expressed in muscle tissue of polymyositis. To determine the therapeutic efficacy of CXCL10 blockade, we investigated the role of CXCL10 and the effect of anti-CXCL10 antibody treatment in C protein-induced myositis (CIM), an animal model of polymyositis.
CIM was induced with human skeletal muscle C protein fragment in female C57BL/6 mice. Immunohistochemistry of CXCL10 and C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 3 (CXCR3) and measurement of serum CXCL10 were performed. Cell surface markers and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) in CIM lymph node cells was investigated by flow cytometry. Mice with CIM were treated with anti-CXCL10 antibody or control antibody (anti-RVG1) and the inflammation in muscle tissue was assessed.
Immunohistochemistry showed increased expression of CXCL10 and CXCR3 in the inflammatory lesions of muscle in CIM. Especially, CD8+ T cells invading myofiber expressed CXCR3. Serum level of CXCL10 was increased in CIM compared to the level in normal mice (normal mouse, 14.3 ± 5.3 pg/ml vs. CIM, 368.5 ± 135.6 pg/ml, P < 0.001). CXCR3 positivity in CD8+ T cells was increased compared to that of CD4+ T cells in the lymph node cells of CIM (CXCR3+ among CD8+ T cell, 65.9 ± 2.1% vs. CXCR3+ among CD4+ T cell, 23.5 ± 4.7%, P <0.001). Moreover, IFN-γ+ cells were increased among CXCR3+CD8+ T cells compared to CXCR3–CD8+ T cells (CXCR3+CD8+ T cell, 28.0 ± 4.2% vs. CXCR3-CD8+ T cell, 9.5 ± 1.5%, P = 0.016). Migration of lymph node cells was increased in response to CXCL10 (chemotactic index was 1.91 ± 0.45). CIM mice treated with anti-CXCL10 antibody showed a lower inflammation score in muscles than those with anti-RVG1 (median, anti-CXCL10 treatment group, 0.625 vs. anti-RVG1 treatment group, 1.25, P = 0.007).
CXCL10/CXCR3 expression was increased in the inflammation of CIM model and its blockade suppressed inflammation in muscle.
PMCID: PMC4095607  PMID: 24939012
11.  Phenotype Difference between Familial and Sporadic Ankylosing Spondylitis in Korean Patients 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2014;29(6):782-787.
Clustered occurrences of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in family have been noticed. We evaluated patients with AS confirmed by the modified New York criteria for familial history of AS (one or more first to third degree relatives). The clinical characteristics and the recurrence risks (number of AS patients/number of familial members) of the familial AS compared to sporadic AS were investigated. Out of a total of 204 AS patients, 38 patients (18.6%) reported that they had a familial history of AS. The recurrence risks in the familial AS patients for first, second and third degree family members were 14.5%, 5.2%, and 4.4% respectively. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) (22.6±22.2 vs 35.4±34.4, P=0.029) and C-reactive protein (CRP) (1.24±1.7 vs 2.43±3.3, P=0.003) at diagnosis, body mass index (21.9±2.7 vs 23.7±3.3, P=0.002) and frequency of oligoarthritis (13.2% vs 33.7%, P=0.021) were significantly lower in the familial form. The presence of HLA-B27 (97.4% vs 83.1%, P=0.044) was significantly higher in familial AS. In conclusion, Korean familial AS patients show a lower frequency of oligoarthritis, lower BMI, lower ESR and CRP at diagnosis and higher presence of HLA-B27.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC4055810  PMID: 24932078
Spondylitis, Ankylosing; Familial; Sporadic; Phenotype; Recurrence Risk
12.  Clinical factors and treatment outcomes associated with failure in the detection of urate crystal in patients with acute gouty arthritis 
To investigate the rate of detection of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in the synovial fluid (SF) of patients with acute gouty arthritis and factors associated with false-negative results.
A total of 179 patients with acute gouty arthritis who had undergone SF crystal examination were identified from the data warehouse of two university hospitals. Clinical and laboratory data were obtained from the medical records.
The overall rate of detection of MSU crystals was 78.8%. In univariate analyses, the only significant differences between the variables of crystal-negative and crystal-positive patients were a lower C-reactive protein level (p = 0.040) and fewer patients undergoing emergent surgery in the crystal-positive group (p = 4.5 × 10-6). In logistic regression analyses, MSU crystal-negative results were significantly associated with the interval from arthritis onset to crystal examination (p = 0.042), and this was the most significant risk factor for arthroscopic surgery (p = 2.1 × 10-4). Seventeen patients who underwent arthroscopic surgery had a significantly longer hospital stay (p = 0.007) and a significant delay in gout treatment (p = 8.74 × 10-5). The distribution of crystal-negative patients differed significantly between the SF samples that were evaluated by both the laboratory medicine and the rheumatology departments (p = 1.2 × 10-14), and the κ value was 0.108.
Although several clinical features were associated with detection failure, SF MSU crystal identification was critically dependent on the observer. Considering the impact on the treatment outcomes, implementation of a quality control program is essential.
PMCID: PMC4028526  PMID: 24851071
Gout; Uric acid; Synovial fluid; Microscopy, polarization
13.  Cytokine signaling-1 suppressor is inducible by IL-1beta and inhibits the catabolic effects of IL-1beta in chondrocytes: its implication in the paradoxical joint-protective role of IL-1beta 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(6):R191.
Although IL-1β is believed to be crucial in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA), the IL-1β blockade brings no therapeutic benefit in human OA and results in OA aggravation in several animal models. We explored the role of a cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1) suppressor as a regulatory modulator of IL-1β signaling in chondrocytes.
Cartilage samples were obtained from patients with knee OA and those without OA who underwent surgery for femur-neck fracture. SOCS1 expression in cartilage was assessed with immunohistochemistry. IL-1β-induced SOCS1 expression in chondrocytes was analyzed with quantitative polymerase chain reaction and immunoblot. The effect of SOCS1 on IL-1β signaling pathways and the synthesis of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and aggrecanase-1 was investigated in SOCS1-overexpressing or -knockdown chondrocytes.
SOCS1 expression was significantly increased in OA cartilage, especially in areas of severe damage (P < 0.01). IL-1β stimulated SOCS1 mRNA expression in a dose-dependent pattern (P < 0.01). The IL-1β-induced production of MMP-1, MMP-3, MMP-13, and ADAMTS-4 (aggrecanase-1, a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs 4) was affected by SOCS1 overexpression or knockdown in both SW1353 cells and primary human articular chondrocytes (all P values < 0.05). The inhibitory effects of SOCS1 were mediated by blocking p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) activation, and by downregulating transforming growth factor-β-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) expression.
Our results show that SOCS1 is induced by IL1-β in OA chondrocytes and suppresses the IL-1β-induced synthesis of matrix-degrading enzymes by inhibiting IL-1β signaling at multiple levels. It suggests that the IL-1β-inducible SOCS1 acts as a negative regulator of the IL-1β response in OA cartilage.
PMCID: PMC3979110  PMID: 24238405
14.  Preferential Binding to Elk-1 by SLE-Associated IL10 Risk Allele Upregulates IL10 Expression 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003870.
Immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) is elevated in sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) correlating with disease activity. The established association of IL10 with SLE and other autoimmune diseases led us to fine map causal variant(s) and to explore underlying mechanisms. We assessed 19 tag SNPs, covering the IL10 gene cluster including IL19, IL20 and IL24, for association with SLE in 15,533 case and control subjects from four ancestries. The previously reported IL10 variant, rs3024505 located at 1 kb downstream of IL10, exhibited the strongest association signal and was confirmed for association with SLE in European American (EA) (P = 2.7×10−8, OR = 1.30), but not in non-EA ancestries. SNP imputation conducted in EA dataset identified three additional SLE-associated SNPs tagged by rs3024505 (rs3122605, rs3024493 and rs3024495 located at 9.2 kb upstream, intron 3 and 4 of IL10, respectively), and SLE-risk alleles of these SNPs were dose-dependently associated with elevated levels of IL10 mRNA in PBMCs and circulating IL-10 protein in SLE patients and controls. Using nuclear extracts of peripheral blood cells from SLE patients for electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we identified specific binding of transcription factor Elk-1 to oligodeoxynucleotides containing the risk (G) allele of rs3122605, suggesting rs3122605 as the most likely causal variant regulating IL10 expression. Elk-1 is known to be activated by phosphorylation and nuclear localization to induce transcription. Of interest, phosphorylated Elk-1 (p-Elk-1) detected only in nuclear extracts of SLE PBMCs appeared to increase with disease activity. Co-expression levels of p-Elk-1 and IL-10 were elevated in SLE T, B cells and monocytes, associated with increased disease activity in SLE B cells, and were best downregulated by ERK inhibitor. Taken together, our data suggest that preferential binding of activated Elk-1 to the IL10 rs3122605-G allele upregulates IL10 expression and confers increased risk for SLE in European Americans.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a debilitating autoimmune disease characterized by the production of pathogenic autoantibodies, has a strong genetic basis. Variants of the IL10 gene, which encodes cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) with known function of promoting B cell hyperactivity and autoantibody production, are associated with SLE and other autoimmune diseases, and serum IL-10 levels are elevated in SLE patients correlating with increased disease activity. In this study, to discover SLE-predisposing causal variant(s), we assessed variants within the genomic region containing IL10 and its gene family member IL19, IL20 and IL24 for association with SLE in case and control subjects from diverse ancestries. We identified SLE-associated SNP rs3122605 located at 9.2 kb upstream of IL10 as the most likely causal variant in subjects of European ancestry. The SLE-risk allele of rs3122605 was dose-dependently associated with elevated IL10 expression at both mRNA and protein levels in peripheral blood samples from SLE patients and controls, which could be explained, at least in part, by its preferential binding to Elk-1, a transcription factor activated in B cells during active disease of SLE patients. Elk-1-mediated IL-10 overexpression could be downregulated by inhibiting activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, suggesting a potential therapeutic target for SLE.
PMCID: PMC3794920  PMID: 24130510
15.  Tofacitinib Prevents Radiographic Progression in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2013;28(8):1134-1138.
Tofacitinib, a novel Janus kinase inhibitor, may prevent structural damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In this cohort study, we compared radiographic progression of hand joints between 21 RA patients who took tofacitinb for 18 months in a phase IIb and its extension study and 42 patients who took conventional disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), using simple erosion narrowing score. For tofacitinib group, changes before and after the treatment were also compared. The changes of erosion and sum scores were significantly less in tofacitinib than DMARDs group (for erosion, -0.60 ± 1.83 vs 0.51 ± 1.77, P = 0.038; for sum, -0.50 ± 1.72 vs 1.57 ± 4.13, P = 0.012). Joint space narrowing score (JSN) was also less in tofacitinib group (0.095 ± 0.58 vs 1.06 ± 2.60, P = 0.055). In tofacitinib group, yearly rates of both erosion and JSN were significantly decreased after administration of tofacitinib (For erosion, 0.62 ± 0.93 to -0.14 ± 0.48, P = 0.009; for JSN, 0.47 ± 0.64 to 0.03 ± 0.40, P = 0.032), as was change of sum score (1.09 ± 1.27 to -0.10 ± 0.63, P < 0.001). In conclusion, tofacitinib may prevent structural damage caused by RA.
PMCID: PMC3744699  PMID: 23960438
Arthritis, Rheumatoid; Radiographic Progression; Tofacitinib
16.  Simple and Versatile Molecular Method of Copy-Number Measurement Using Cloned Competitors 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69414.
Variations and alterations of copy numbers (CNVs and CNAs) carry disease susceptibility and drug responsiveness implications. Although there are many molecular methods to measure copy numbers, sensitivity, reproducibility, cost, and time issues remain. In the present study, we were able to solve those problems utilizing our modified real competitive PCR method with cloned competitors (mrcPCR). First, the mrcPCR for ERBB2 copy number was established, and the results were comparable to current standard methods but with a shorter assay time and a lower cost. Second, the mrcPCR assays for 24 drug-target genes were established, and the results in a panel of NCI-60 cells were comparable to those from real-time PCR and microarray. Third, the mrcPCR results for FCGR3A and the FCGR3B CNVs were comparable to those by the paralog ratio test (PRT), but without PRT's limitations. These results suggest that mrcPCR is comparable to the currently available standard or the most sensitive methods. In addition, mrcPCR would be invaluable for measurement of CNVs in genes with variants of similar structures, because combination of the other methods is not necessary, along with its other advantages such as short assay time, small sample amount requirement, and applicability to all sequences and genes.
PMCID: PMC3728337  PMID: 23936009
17.  Fine Mapping of Xq28: Both MECP2 and IRAK1 Contribute to Risk for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Multiple Ancestral Groups 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;72(3):437-444.
The Xq28 region containing IRAK1 and MECP2 has been identified as a risk locus for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in previous genetic association studies. However, due to the strong linkage disequilibrium between IRAK1 and MECP2, it remains unclear which gene is affected by the underlying causal variant(s) conferring risk of SLE.
We fine-mapped ≥136 SNPs in a ~227kb region on Xq28, containing IRAK1, MECP2 and 7 adjacent genes (L1CAM, AVPR2, ARHGAP4, NAA10, RENBP, HCFC1 and TMEM187), for association with SLE in 15,783 case-control subjects derived from 4 different ancestral groups.
Multiple SNPs showed strong association with SLE in European Americans, Asians and Hispanics at P<5×10−8 with consistent association in subjects with African ancestry. Of these, 6 SNPs located in the TMEM187-IRAK1-MECP2 region captured the underlying causal variant(s) residing in a common risk haplotype shared by all 4 ancestral groups. Among them, rs1059702 best explained the Xq28 association signals in conditional testings and exhibited the strongest P value in trans-ancestral meta-analysis (Pmeta=1.3×10−27, OR=1.43), and thus was considered to be the most-likely causal variant. The risk allele of rs1059702 results in the amino acid substitution S196F in IRAK1 and had previously been shown to increase NF-κB activity in vitro. We also found that the homozygous risk genotype of rs1059702 was associated with lower mRNA levels of MECP2, but not IRAK1, in SLE patients (P=0.0012) and healthy controls (P=0.0064).
These data suggest contributions of both IRAK1 and MECP2 to SLE susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3567234  PMID: 22904263
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Gene Polymorphism; Xq28; IRAK1; MECP2
18.  Prediction of Microbial Infection of Cultured Cells Using DNA Microarray Gene-Expression Profiles of Host Responses 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2012;27(10):1129-1136.
Infection by microorganisms may cause fatally erroneous interpretations in the biologic researches based on cell culture. The contamination by microorganism in the cell culture is quite frequent (5% to 35%). However, current approaches to identify the presence of contamination have many limitations such as high cost of time and labor, and difficulty in interpreting the result. In this paper, we propose a model to predict cell infection, using a microarray technique which gives an overview of the whole genome profile. By analysis of 62 microarray expression profiles under various experimental conditions altering cell type, source of infection and collection time, we discovered 5 marker genes, NM_005298, NM_016408, NM_014588, S76389, and NM_001853. In addition, we discovered two of these genes, S76389, and NM_001853, are involved in a Mycolplasma-specific infection process. We also suggest models to predict the source of infection, cell type or time after infection. We implemented a web based prediction tool in microarray data, named Prediction of Microbial Infection (
PMCID: PMC3468746  PMID: 23091307
Prediction Model; Microbial Infection; DNA Microarray; Mycoplasma
19.  Association of PPP2CA polymorphisms with SLE susceptibility in multiple ethnic groups 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(9):2755-2763.
T cells from patients with SLE express increased amounts of PP2Ac which contribute to decreased production of IL-2. Because IL-2 is important in the regulation of several aspects of the immune response, it has been proposed that PP2Ac contributes to the expression of SLE. This study was designed to determine whether genetic variants of PPP2AC are linked to the expression of SLE and specific clinical manifestations and account for the increased expression of PP2Ac.
We conducted a trans-ethnic study consisting of 8,695 SLE cases and 7,308 controls from four different ancestries. Eighteen single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across the PPP2CA were genotyped using an Illumina custom array. PPP2CA expression in SLE and control T cells was analyzed by real-time PCR.
A 32-kb haplotype comprised of multiple SNPs of PPP2CA showed significant association with SLE in Hispanic Americans (HA), European Americans (EA) and Asians but not in African-Americans (AA). Conditional analyses revealed that SNP rs7704116 in intron 1 showed consistently strong association with SLE across Asian, EA and HA populations (pmeta=3.8×10−7, OR=1.3[1.14–1.31]). In EA, the largest ethnic dataset, the risk A allele of rs7704116 was associated with the presence of renal disease, anti-dsDNA and anti-RNP antibodies. PPP2CA expression was approximately 2-fold higher in SLE patients carrying the rs7704116 AG genotype than those carrying GG genotype (p = 0.008).
Our data provide the first evidence for an association between PPP2CA polymorphisms and elevated PP2Ac transcript levels in T cells, which implicates a new molecular pathway for SLE susceptibility in EA, HA and Asians.
PMCID: PMC3163110  PMID: 21590681
20.  Atorvastatin inhibits osteoclastogenesis by decreasing the expression of RANKL in the synoviocytes of rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(4):R187.
Statins, hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors, have been reported to have antiinflammatory and/or immunomodulatory effects and prophylactic and therapeutic effects in collagen-induced arthritis, an experimental model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The authors undertook to determine the effect of atorvastatin on the expressions of osteoprotegerin (OPG) and receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL) in RA fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs), to identify the mechanisms responsible for these effects, and to determine whether the statin inhibits osteoclastogenesis.
FLSs isolated from five RA patients were cultured in the presence of 20 ng/ml of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) with or without atorvastatin. RANKL expressions were assayed with Western blotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RANKL, RANK, and OPG expression were assayed with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Osteoclast formation was assayed by counting cells after staining for tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase in cocultures of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and RA FLSs.
Atorvastatin inhibited the expression of RANKL in RA FLSs in a dose-dependent manner, and the suppression of RANKL was prevented by mevalonate. However, OPG expression was not affected by atorvastatin in RA FLSs, and atorvastatin did not affect RANK expression in CD14+ cells. Conversely, atorvastatin suppressed TNF-α-induced p38 phosphorylation in RA FLSs and significantly reduced TRAP-positive multinucleated osteoclast formation in the coculture of PBMCs and RA FLSs.
These results suggest that atorvastatin inhibits osteoclastogenesis and bone destruction in RA patients.
PMCID: PMC3580583  PMID: 22901757
21.  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
22.  Association of a functional IRF7 variant with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2011;63(3):749-754.
Previous genome wide association study conducted in a population of European ancestry identified rs4963128, a KIAA1542 SNP 23kb telomeric to IRF7, in strong association with SLE. This study was undertaken to investigate whether genetic polymorphism within IRF7 is a risk factor for the development of SLE.
We genotyped one KIAA1542 SNP rs4963128 and one IRF7 SNP rs1131665 (Q412R) in an Asian population (cases vs. controls: 1302 vs.1479) to assess their association with SLE using custom-designed Beadstation Infinium II platform (Illumina). Subsequently, rs1131665 was further genotyped in independent panels of Chinese (528 vs.527), European American (EA) (446 vs.461) and African American (AA) (159 vs.115) by Taqman genotyping assay to seek confirmation of association in various ethnic groups. Luciferase reporter assay was used to assess the effect of Q412R polymorphism on the activation of IRF7.
Consistent association of rs1131665 (Q412R) with SLE was identified in Asian, EA and AA populations (case vs. control: 2435 vs. 2582; Pmeta = 6.18×10−6, OR = 1.42[1.22–1.65]). Expression of IRF7 412Q risk allele resulted in a 2-fold increase in ISRE transcriptional activity compared with expression of IRF7 412R (P = 0.0003), suggesting IRF7 412Q confers elevated IRF7 activity and may therefore affect downstream IFN pathway.
We showed that the major allele of a nonsynonymous SNP rs1131665 (412Q) in IRF7 confers elevated IRF7 activation and predisposes to the development of SLE in multiple ethnic groups. This result provides direct genetic evidence supporting IRF7 may be a risk gene for human SLE.
PMCID: PMC3063317  PMID: 21360504
23.  Behçet’s disease presenting with Budd–Chiari syndrome and intracardial thrombus: a case report 
Budd–Chiari syndrome has been described as a late complication of Behçet’s disease. Although the mortality rate associated with Behçet’s disease is low, it can escalate in the presence of Budd–Chiari syndrome and may be further complicated by intracardial thrombus formation. It is therefore important to detect and initiate management early in the disease course. The imaging modalities of choice should be minimally invasive as certain procedures may aggravate Behçet’s disease by initiating a thrombosis or aggravating an existing one. In Behçet’s disease-induced Budd–Chiari syndrome, cardiac investigation is crucial in the work-up in order to identify any cardiac involvement and determine the etiology of intracardial thrombus. Furthermore, the treatment should ultimately focus on controlling the activity of Behçet’s disease. We report an unusual case of Behçet’s disease presenting with Budd–Chiari syndrome complicated by intracardial thrombus in a young Korean man.
PMCID: PMC3658241  PMID: 23754909
Behçet’s disease; Budd-Chiari syndrome; intracardial thrombus
24.  Salivary chemokine levels in patients with primary Sjögren’s syndrome 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2010;49(9):1747-1752.
Objective. The present study aimed to investigate the salivary chemokine levels in patients with primary SS (pSS) and compare them with those in patients with non-SS sicca symptoms or non-sicca controls.
Methods. Unstimulated and stimulated whole saliva samples were obtained from pSS patients (n = 30) and age- and gender-matched patients with non-SS sicca (n = 30) and non-sicca healthy controls (n = 25). Salivary CCL2, CCL3, CCL4, CXCL8 and CXCL10 levels were measured using a Luminex bead-based multiplex assay.
Results. Patients with pSS had significantly different distributions of salivary CCL3 (P = 0.0001 by the Kruskal–Wallis test), CCL4 (P < 0.00001), CXLC8 (P < 0.0001) and CXCL10 (P < 0.05) levels in unstimulated saliva and all chemokine levels in stimulated saliva when compared with non-SS sicca and non-sicca controls. In comparison with chemokine production rate, the CXCL8 and CXCL10 production rates were significantly higher in pSS than in non-SS sicca controls (P < 0.01 by the Mann–Whitney test). Logistic regression analyses revealed that salivary CXCL8 (P < 0.05) and CXCL10 (P < 0.05) were the significant discriminating chemokines between the pSS and non-SS sicca groups. Although CXCL8 and CXCL10 levels were not correlated with the focus scores, CXCL8 and CXCL10 levels were significantly associated with salivary gland dysfunction.
Conclusion. These results support the notion that CXCL8 or CXCL10 chemokine plays a role in the pathogenesis of pSS.
PMCID: PMC2919196  PMID: 20525739
Sjögren’s syndrome; Sicca; Saliva; Chemokine
25.  Prevalence of Knee Pain and Its Influence on Quality of Life and Physical Function in the Korean Elderly Population: A Community Based Cross-Sectional Study 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2011;26(9):1140-1146.
To investigate the prevalence of knee pain and its influence on physical function and quality of life (QOL), we examined 504 community residents of Chuncheon, aged ≥ 50 yr. Demographic information was obtained by questionnaire, and radiographic evaluations consisted of weight-bearing semi-flexed knee anteroposterior radiographs. Self-reported QOL and function were assessed using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis (WOMAC) Index and Short Form 12 (SF-12). Performance-based lower extremity function was assessed using the tests consisting of standing balance, usual walk and chair stands. The prevalence of knee pain was 46.2% (32.2% in men and 58.0% in women) and increased with age in women. After adjustment of confounders including the presence of knee OA, the subjects with knee pain had significantly worse WOMAC function and SF-12 scores compared to subjects without knee pain. Among the subjects with knee pain, women had worse WOMAC and SF-12 scores than men. Subjects with knee pain had worse physical performance score compared to those without knee pain, especially among females. In conclusion, the prevalence of knee pain is high (32.2% in men and 58.0% in women) in this elderly community population in Korea. Independent of knee OA and other confounding factors, subjects with knee pain have more than 5-fold increase in the risk of belonging to the worst lower extremity function compared to subjects without knee pain.
PMCID: PMC3172649  PMID: 21935267
Knee Pain; Osteoarthritis; Quality of Life

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