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1.  Regional differences regarding risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis in Stockholm County, Sweden 
Scandinavian journal of rheumatology  2013;42(5):10.3109/03009742.2013.769062.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a complex disease that is associated with genetic and environmental factors. We have investigated geospatial variation in risk of developing RA within Stockholm County, with respect to established environmental risk factors for RA, as well as serologically-defined subgroups of RA.
Information regarding geographical location for 1432 cases and 2529 controls from the Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (EIRA) study, living in Stockholm County at RA symptom onset, or matched date for controls, was used to estimate geospatial variation in risk. We used Generalized Additive Models (GAM) to create a risk surface, calculate odds ratios and adjust for potential confounding by smoking, educational level and RA within family. We performed a stratified analysis based on presence/absence of antibodies to citrullinated peptides (ACPA).
We found significant spatial variation in the odds of developing RA in Stockholm County. After adjustment for smoking, educational level and family history of RA, this geospatial variation remained. The stratified analysis showed areas with higher odds ratios for ACPA-positive RA and ACPA-negative RA, after adjusting for smoking, educational level and having a family history of RA. Living in the city of Stockholm was associated with decreased risk of RA.
The risk of developing RA in Stockholm County is not evenly distributed and there are areas of increased risk that could not be explained by known factors. Further investigations of local exposures or social factors are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3815679  PMID: 23611369
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Epidemiologic methods; Antibodies; Geography; Risk; Smoking; ACPA; Stockholm
2.  Ambient air pollution exposures and risk of rheumatoid arthritis in the Nurses’ Health Study 
Arthritis care & research  2013;65(7):1190-1196.
Environmental factors may play a role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and we have previously observed increased RA risk among women living closer to major roads (a source of air pollution). We examined whether long-term exposures to specific air pollutants were associated with RA risk among women in the Nurses’ Health Study.
The Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) is a large cohort of U.S. female nurses followed prospectively every two years since 1976. We studied 111,425 NHS participants with information on air pollution exposures as well as data concerning other lifestyle and behavioral exposures and disease outcomes. Outdoor levels of different size fractions of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) and gaseous pollutants (SO2 and NO2) were predicted for all available residential addresses using monitoring data from the USEPA. We examined the association of time-varying exposures, 6 and 10 years before each questionnaire cycle, and cumulative average exposure with the risks of RA, seronegative (rheumatoid factor [RF] and anti–citrullinated peptide antibodies [ACPA]) RA, and seropositive RA.
Over the 3,019,424 years of follow-up, 858 incident RA cases were validated by medical record review by two board-certified rheumatologists. Overall, we found no evidence of increased risks of RA, seronegative or seropositive RA, with exposure to the different pollutants, and little evidence of effect modification by socioeconomic status or smoking status, geographic region, or calendar period.
In this group of socioeconomically-advantaged middle-aged and elderly women, adult exposures to air pollution were not associated with an increased RA risk.
PMCID: PMC3659202  PMID: 23401426
3.  Association of Discoid Lupus with other Clinical Manifestations among Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Cutaneous discoid lupus (DLE) among SLE patients may be associated with less severe disease, with low frequency of nephritis and end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
To investigate associations between confirmed DLE and other SLE manifestations, adjusting for confounders.
We identified patients with rheumatologist confirmation, according to ACR SLE classification criteria 1997, >2 visits, >3 months of follow-up, and documented year of SLE diagnosis. DLE was confirmed by dermatologist, supported by histopathology and images. SLE manifestations, medications and serologies were collected. Multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analyses tested for associations between DLE and each of the ACR SLE criteria, and ESRD.
A total of 1,043 SLE patients, (117 with DLE and 926 without DLE), were included in the study. After multivariable adjustment, DLE in SLE was significantly associated with photosensitivity (OR 1.63), leukopenia (OR 1.55) and anti-Smith antibodies (OR 2.41). DLE was significantly associated with reduced risks of arthritis (OR 0.49) and pleuritis (OR 0.56). We found no significant associations between DLE and nephritis or ESRD.
Cross-sectional data collection with risk of data not captured from visits outside system.
In our SLE cohort, DLE was confirmed by a dermatologist and we adjusted for possible confounding by medication use, in particular hydroxychloroquine. We found increased risks of photosensitivity, leukopenia and anti-Smith antibodies and decreased risks of pleuritis and arthritis in SLE patients with DLE. DLE was not related to anti-dsDNA antibodies, lupus nephritis, or ESRD. These findings have implications for prognosis among SLE patients.
PMCID: PMC3686921  PMID: 23541758
Systemic lupus erythematosus; discoid lupus erythematosus; cutaneous lupus erythematosus; prognosis; epidemiology
4.  Association of Environmental and Genetic Factors and Gene-Environment Interactions with Risk of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis care & research  2013;65(7):1147-1156.
We developed RA risk models based on validated environmental factors (E), genetic risk scores (GRS), and gene-environment interactions (GEI) to identify factors that can improve accuracy and reclassification.
Models including E, GRS, GEI were developed among 317 Caucasian seropositive RA cases and 551 controls from Nurses’ Health Studies (NHS) and validated in 987 Caucasian ACPA positive cases and 958 controls from the Swedish Epidemiologic Investigation of RA (EIRA), stratified by gender. Primary analyses included age, smoking, alcohol, parity, weighted GRS using 31 non-HLA alleles, 8 HLA-DRB1 alleles and HLA X smoking interaction. Expanded models included reproductive, geographic, and occupational factors, and additional GEI terms. Hierarchical models were compared for discriminative accuracy using AUC and reclassification using Integrated Discrimination Improvement (IDI) and continuous Net Reclassification Index.
Mean (SD) age of RA diagnosis was 57 in NHS and 50 in EIRA. Primary models produced an AUC of 0.716 in NHS, 0.728 in EIRA women and 0.756 in EIRA men. Expanded models produced improvements in discrimination with AUCs of 0.738 in NHS, 0.728 in EIRA women and 0.769 in EIRA men. Models including G or G + GEI improved reclassification over E models; the full E+G+GEI model provided the optimal predictive ability by IDI analyses.
We have developed comprehensive RA risk models incorporating epidemiologic and genetic factors and gene-environment interactions that have improved discriminative accuracy for RA. Further work developing and assessing highly specific prediction models in prospective cohorts is still needed to inform primary RA prevention trials.
PMCID: PMC3740546  PMID: 23495093
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;72(6):888-894.
Environmental factors may play a role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We examined whether long-term exposures to air pollution were associated with risk of RA in the Swedish Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (EIRA) Study.
We studied 1,497 incident RA cases and 2,536 controls. Local levels of particulate matter (PM10) and gaseous pollutants (SO2 and NO2,) from traffic and home heating were predicted for all residential addresses. We examined the association of an interquartile range increase (2μg/m3 for PM10, 8μg/m3 for SO2, and 9μg/m3 for NO2) in each pollutant at different time points prior to symptom onset and average exposure with the risk of all RA and the risk of the rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA) RA phenotypes.
There was no evidence of an increased risk of RA with PM10. Total RA risks were modestly elevated for the gaseous pollutants, but were not statistically significant after adjustment for smoking and education (odds ratio (OR)=1.18 [95%confidence interval (CI): 0.97–1.43] and OR=1.09 [95%CI: 0.99–1.19] for SO2 and NO2 in the 10th year before onset). Stronger elevated risks were observed for individuals with less than a university education and with the ACPA- RA phenotype.
No consistent overall associations between air pollution in the Stockholm area and risk for RA were observed. However, there was a suggestion of increased risks of RA incidence with increases in NO2 from local traffic and SO2 from home heating sources with stronger associations for the ACPA- phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3654032  PMID: 22833374
air pollution; rheumatoid arthritis; traffic pollution; home heating pollution
6.  End-Stage Renal Disease in African Americans With Lupus Nephritis Is Associated With APOL1 
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a severe manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that exhibits familial aggregation and may progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). LN is more prevalent among African Americans than among European Americans. This study was undertaken to investigate the hypothesis that the apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) nephropathy risk alleles G1/G2, common in African Americans and rare in European Americans, contribute to the ethnic disparity in risk.
APOL1 G1 and G2 nephropathy alleles were genotyped in 855 African American SLE patients with LN-ESRD (cases) and 534 African American SLE patients without nephropathy (controls) and tested for association under a recessive genetic model, by logistic regression.
Ninety percent of the SLE patients were female. The mean ± SD age at SLE diagnosis was significantly lower in LN-ESRD cases than in SLE non-nephropathy controls (27.3 ± 10.9 years versus 39.5 ± 12.2 years). The mean ± SD time from SLE diagnosis to development of LN-ESRD in cases was 7.3 ± 7.2 years. The G1/G2 risk alleles were strongly associated with SLE-ESRD, with 25% of cases and 12% of controls having 2 nephropathy alleles (odds ratio [OR] 2.57, recessive model P = 1.49 × 10−9), and after adjustment for age, sex, and ancestry admixture (OR 2.72, P = 6.23 × 10−6). The age-, sex-, and admixture-adjusted population attributable risk for ESRD among patients with G1/G2 polymorphisms was 0.26, compared to 0.003 among European American patients. The mean time from SLE diagnosis to ESRD development was ~2 years earlier among individuals with APOL1 risk genotypes (P = 0.01).
APOL1 G1/G2 alleles strongly impact the risk of LN-ESRD in African Americans, as well as the time to progression to ESRD. The high frequency of these alleles in African Americans with near absence in European Americans explains an important proportion of the increased risk of LN-ESRD in African Americans.
PMCID: PMC4002759  PMID: 24504811
7.  Exposure to ultraviolet-B and risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis among women in the Nurses’ Health Study 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;72(4):506-511.
To examine the association between ultraviolet-B (UV-B) light exposure and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk among women in two large prospective cohort studies, the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII).
A total of 106 368 women from NHS, aged 30–55 years in 1976, and 115 561 women from NHSII, aged 25–42 in 1989, were included in the analysis. We identified women with incident RA from the start of each cohort until 2008 (NHS) and 2009 (NHSII). Cumulative average UV-B flux, a composite measure of ambient UV exposure based on latitude, altitude and cloud cover, was estimated according to state of residence and categorised as low, medium or high. Estimates of UV-B at birth and age 15 years were also examined. We used multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models to estimate HR and 95% CI.
1314 incident RA cases were identified in total. Among NHS participants, higher cumulative average UV-B exposure was associated with decreased RA risk; those in the highest versus lowest category had a 21% decreased RA risk (HR (95% CI); 0.79 (0.66 to 0.94)). UV-B was not associated with RA risk among younger women in NHSII (1.12 (0.87 to 1.44)). Results were similar for UV-B at birth and at age 15.
These results suggest that ambient UV-B exposure is associated with a lower RA risk in NHS, but not NHSII. Differences in sun-protective behaviours (eg, greater use of sun block in younger generations) may explain the disparate results.
PMCID: PMC3678095  PMID: 23380431
8.  Erythropoiesis-stimulating Agent Use among Patients with Lupus Nephritis Approaching End-stage Renal Disease 
Little is known about erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) utilization among lupus nephritis (LN) patients with incipient ESRD. We aimed to identify sociodemographic and clinical factors associated with ESA use among incident LN ESRD patients.
Among all individuals age ≥18 with incident ESRD from 1995-2008 in the U.S. Renal Data System (USRDS), we identified those with systemic lupus erythematosus (ICD-9 code 710.0) as the cause of ESRD. ESA use at ESRD onset was ascertained from the Medical Evidence Report. Year of onset, age, sex, race/ethnicity, medical insurance, employment status, residential region, clinical factors and comorbidities were considered potentially associated with ESA use in multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analyses.
We identified 12,533 individuals with incident LN ESRD (1% of entire population). Of those, 4,288 (34%) received an ESA preceding ESRD. In multivariable-adjusted models, ESA users had higher serum albumin and hemoglobin concentrations, were more likely to be women, and to live in the Northeast. Conversely, Medicaid beneficiaries, the uninsured, unemployed, African Americans, Hispanics, and those with IV drug use, congestive heart failure and obesity had lower ESA use.
Among all U.S. patients and those with LN who developed ESRD, approximately one third received ESAs. Patient sex, race, age, medical insurance, residential region and clinical factors were significantly associated with ESA therapy. While there are no guidelines for ESA use in LN patients approaching ESRD, there has been wide sociodemographic variation, raising questions about ESA prescription practices.
PMCID: PMC3963515  PMID: 24672742
Lupus nephritis; End-stage renal disease; Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents; Anemia; Disparity; Race; Ethnicity; Access to care; Sociodemographic
9.  Epidemiology and Sociodemographics of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Lupus Nephritis among U.S. Adults with Medicaid Coverage, 2000–2004 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(3):753-763.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis (LN) disproportionately affect racial/ethnic minorities and lower socioeconomic status (SES) individuals. We investigated the epidemiology and sociodemographics of SLE and LN in the low-income U.S. Medicaid population.
We utilized Medicaid Analytic eXtract data, with billing claims from 47 states and Washington, D.C. for 23.9 million individuals, aged 18–65 years, enrolled in Medicaid for >3 months, 2000–2004. Individuals with SLE (> 3 visits, ICD-9 code 710.0, >30 days apart) and with LN (>2 ICD-9 codes for glomerulonephritis, proteinuria or renal failure) were identified. We calculated SLE and LN prevalence and incidence, stratified by sociodemographic categories, and adjusted for number of American College of Rheumatology (ACR) member rheumatologists and SES using a validated composite of U.S. Census variables.
We identified 34,339 individuals with SLE (prevalence = 143.7/100,000) and 7,388 (21.5%) with LN (prevalence = 30.9/100,000). SLE prevalence was 6 times higher among women, nearly double in African American compared to White women, and highest in the U.S. South. LN prevalence was higher among all racial/ethnic groups compared to Whites. The lowest SES areas had the highest prevalence; areas with the fewest ACR rheumatologists had the lowest. SLE incidence was 23.2/100,000 person-years, and LN incidence was 6.9/100,000 person-years, with similar sociodemographic trends.
In this nationwide Medicaid population, there was sociodemographic variation in SLE and LN prevalence and incidence. Understanding the increased burden of SLE and its complications in this low-income population has implications for resource allocation and access to subspecialty care.
PMCID: PMC3733212  PMID: 23203603
Systemic lupus erythematosus; lupus nephritis; epidemiology; socioeconomic factors; disparities
10.  Epstein-Barr Virus Serologic Abnormalities and risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis among Women 
Autoimmunity  2011;45(2):161-168.
EBV infection and the immune response may be involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Past studies have suggested an association between EBV and RA.
We studied the association between EBV serologies and RA risk in a nested case-control study in the Nurses’ Health Study cohorts. We confirmed incident RA cases from 1990–2002 by questionnaire and medical record review. Each incident case with blood collected prior to RA symptoms was matched to a healthy participant by time of day and date of blood collection, birth year, menopausal status and postmenopausal hormone use. Immunofluorescence assays measured serologic EBV responses: viral capsid antigen (VCA), early-antigen-diffuse (EA-D) and early antigen-complex (EA-restricted and diffuse), Epstein Barr nuclear antigen (EBNA)-1, EBNA-2 and cytomegalovirus (CMV), as control. All were reported as titers, except BZLF-1 and CMV, which were reported as positive or negative. ANA positive samples were excluded. Elevated EBV antibody titers were defined as the upper 20% (or nearest titer) among controls. Conditional logistic regression analyses modeled RA risk associated with elevated EBV titers or the presence/absence CMV, further adjusted for pack-years smoking and alcohol intake.
87 incident RA cases were identified. Mean time to RA after blood draw was 6.2 (±3.5) years in NHS and 1.9 (±0.6) years in NHSII. Antibody titers against EBV were not significantly different between pre-RA cases and controls.
In this prospective study of women, we observed no association between EBV serologies and RA risk.
PMCID: PMC3548398  PMID: 22011088
rheumatoid arthritis; Epstein Barr virus; virus; risk factors; epidemiology
11.  Designing an Intervention for Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus from Medically Underserved Areas to Improve Care: A Qualitative Study 
Lupus  2012;22(1):52-62.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) disproportionately affects women, racial/ethnic minorities and low-income populations. We held focus groups for women from medically underserved communities to discuss interventions to improve care.
From our Lupus Registry, we invited 282 women, > 18 years, residing in urban, medically underserved areas. Hospital-based clinics and support groups also recruited participants. Women were randomly assigned to 3 focus groups. 75-minute sessions were recorded, transcribed and coded thematically using interpretative phenomenologic analysis and single counting methods. We categorized interventions by benefits, limitations, target populations and implementation questions.
29 women with lupus participated in 3 focus groups, (n=9, 9, 11). 80% were African American and 83% were from medically underserved zip codes. Themes included the desire for lupus education, isolation at the time of diagnosis, emotional and physical barriers to care, and the need for assistance navigating the healthcare system. 20 of 29 participants (69%) favored a peer support intervention; 17 (59%) also supported a lupus health passport. Newly diagnosed women were optimal intervention targets. Improvements in quality of life and mental health were proposed outcome measures.
Women with lupus from medically underserved areas have unique needs best addressed with an intervention designed through collaboration between community members and researchers.
PMCID: PMC3543784  PMID: 23087258
Disparities; qualitative research; African Americans; systemic lupus erythematosus
12.  Variation in Initial Kidney Replacement Therapy for End-Stage Renal Disease Due to Lupus Nephritis in the U.S. 
Arthritis care & research  2011;63(12):1642-1653.
Little is known about patterns of use of initial kidney replacement therapies among patients with LN end-stage renal disease (LN ESRD). We aimed to identify sociodemographic and clinical factors associated with variation in initial kidney replacement therapies among LN ESRD patients.
Patients with incident LN ESRD (1995–2006) were identified in the US Renal Data System. Age, sex, race, ethnicity, medical insurance, employment status, residential region, clinical factors and comorbidities were considered as potential predictors of ESRD treatment choice -- peritoneal dialysis (PD), hemodialysis (HD) or pre-emptive kidney transplantation -- in age-adjusted and multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analyses.
Of 11,317 individuals with incident LN ESRD, 82.0% initiated HD; 12.2% PD, and 2.8% underwent pre-emptive kidney transplantation. Receiving initial PD was significantly associated with earlier calendar year, female sex, higher albumin and hemoglobin, and lower serum creatinine levels. African Americans (vs. Whites), Medicaid beneficiaries and those with no health insurance (vs. private insurance), and those unemployed (vs. employed) had significantly reduced PD initiation. Comorbidities including congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease and inability to ambulate were also associated with decreased PD. Many sociodemographic and clinical factors favoring PD were associated with pre-emptive kidney transplant (vs. dialysis) as well.
Few patients with LN ESRD receive initial PD or pre-emptive kidney transplantation. Race, ethnicity, employment and medical insurance type are strongly associated with initial kidney replacement therapy choice. Future studies need to investigate the appropriateness of sociodemographic and clinical variation and the comparative effectiveness of kidney replacement therapies for LN ESRD.
PMCID: PMC3227771  PMID: 22058067
peritoneal dialysis; hemodialysis; kidney transplantation; survival; lupus; nephritis; end-stage renal disease; chronic kidney disease; systemic lupus erythematosus; African American; Hispanic; race; women
13.  Epidemiology of Environmental Exposures and Human Autoimmune Diseases: Findings from a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Expert Panel Workshop 
Journal of autoimmunity  2012;39(4):259-271.
Autoimmune diseases (AID) are a collection of many complex disorders of unknown etiology resulting in immune responses to self-antigens and are thought to result from interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Here we review the epidemiologic evidence for the role of environmental factors in the development of human AID, the conclusions that can be drawn from the existing data, critical knowledge gaps, and research needed to fill these gaps and to resolve uncertainties. We specifically summarize the state of knowledge and our levels of confidence in the role of specific agents in the development of autoimmune diseases, and we define the areas of greatest impact for future investigations. Among our consensus findings we are confident that: 1) crystalline silica exposure can contribute to the development of several AID; 2) solvent exposure can contribute to the development of systemic sclerosis; 3) smoking can contribute to the development of seropositive rheumatoid arthritis; and 4) an inverse association exists between ultraviolet radiation exposure and the risk of development of multiple sclerosis. We suggest that more studies of phenotypes, genotypes, and multiple exposures are needed. Additional knowledge gaps needing investigation include: defining important windows in the timing of exposures and latencies relating to age, developmental state, and hormonal changes; understanding dose-response relationships; and elucidating mechanisms for disease development. Addressing these essential issues will require more resources to support research, particularly of rare AID, but knowledge of the risks conferred by environmental factors in specific genetic contexts could pave the way for prevention of AID in the future.
PMCID: PMC3496812  PMID: 22739348
autoimmune disease; environmental risk factors; biologic agents; chemical agents; physical factors; research priorities
14.  Dietary Intake of Vitamin D during Adolescence and Risk of Adult onset Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis care & research  2012;64(12):1829-1836.
Vitamin D has immunomodulatory properties with potential etiologic implications for autoimmune diseases. The relevant exposure time during which vitamin D may influence disease risk is unknown.
To examine the relationship between reported vitamin D intake during adolescence and adult onset RA and SLE incidence in prospective cohort studies of women, the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII).
Food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) concerning high school diet completed by 73,629 NHS (1986) and 45,544 NHSII participants (1998) were used to calculate nutrient intakes during adolescence. Incident RA and SLE cases prior to 2006 NHS and 2007 NHSII, were confirmed by medical record review. Cox proportional hazards models calculated relative risks (RR) and 95% CI of incident RA and SLE according to quintile cutoffs of vitamin D intake. Age- and calorie-adjusted and multivariable-(including sun-exposure factors) adjusted analyses were completed. Random effects models were used to meta-analyze estimates of association from the two cohorts.
Incident RA was confirmed in 652 NHS and 148 NHSII participants, and SLE in 122 NHS and 54 NHSII participants over a mean follow-up of 351 (NHS) and 209 months (NHSII). Age- and calorie-adjusted and multivariable-adjusted models did not show significant associations between adolescent vitamin D intake and risk of adult onset RA or SLE.
We did not find associations between adolescent dietary vitamin D intake and adult RA or SLE risk among women in NHS and NHSII suggesting that other time periods during the life-course should be studied.
PMCID: PMC3488139  PMID: 22744978
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Vitamin D; Diet; Environmental Factors
17.  Immunosenescence and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Does Telomere Shortening Predict Impending Disease? 
Autoimmunity reviews  2011;10(9):569-573.
The pathogenesis of RA, a disabling autoimmune disease, is incompletely understood. Early in the development of RA there appears to be loss of immune homeostasis and regulation, and premature immunosenescence. While identification of risk factors and understanding of the phases of RA pathogenesis are advancing, means of accurately predicting an individual’s risk of developing RA are currently lacking. Telomere length has been proposed as a potential new biomarker for the development of RA that could enhance prediction of this serious disease. Studies examining telomere length in relation to RA have found that telomere erosion appears to proceed more rapidly in subjects with RA than in healthy controls, and that telomere lengths are shorter in those with the RA-risk HLA-shared epitope genes. These studies have been small, however, with retrospective or cross-sectional designs. The potential role of telomere shortening as an independent biomarker for future RA risk, perhaps strongly genetically determined by HLA-SE genes, after controlling for known risk factors such as smoking, body mass index and immunosuppressant medication use, as well as systemic inflammation, is an unanswered question.
PMCID: PMC3119949  PMID: 21575746
immunosenescence; rheumatoid arthritis; telomere; biomarker; risk factor; aging; autoimmune
18.  Does Vitamin D Affect Risk of Developing Autoimmune Disease?: A Systematic Review 
Seminars in arthritis and rheumatism  2010;40(6):512-531.e8.
We evaluated the epidemiologic evidence that vitamin D may be related to human autoimmune disease risk.
PubMed limited to English from inception through April 2010 was searched using keywords: “vitamin D”, “autoimmune” and autoimmune disease names. We summarized in vitro, animal, and genetic association studies of vitamin D in autoimmune disease pathogenesis. We sorted studies by design and disease and performed a systematic review of: a) cross-sectional data concerning vitamin D level and autoimmune disease; b) interventional data on vitamin D supplementation in autoimmune diseases and c) prospective data linking vitamin D level or intake to autoimmune disease risk.
Vitamin D has effects on innate and acquired immune systems and vitamin D receptor polymorphisms have been associated with various autoimmune diseases. In experimental animal models, vitamin D supplementation can prevent or forestall autoimmune disease. We identified 76 studies in which vitamin D levels were studied in autoimmune disease patients, particularly with active disease, and compared to controls. Nineteen observational or interventional studies assessed the effect of vitamin D supplementation as therapy for various autoimmune diseases (excluding psoriasis and vitiligo) with a range of study approaches and results. The few prospective human studies performed conflict as to whether vitamin D level or intake is associated with autoimmune disease risk. No interventional trials have investigated whether vitamin D affects human autoimmune disease risk.
Cross-sectional data point to a potential role of vitamin D in autoimmune disease prevention, but prospective interventional evidence in humans is still lacking.
PMCID: PMC3098920  PMID: 21047669
vitamin D; autoimmune disease; intake; risk factor; epidemiology; systematic review
19.  Trends in the Incidence, Demographics and Outcomes of End-Stage Renal Disease Due to Lupus Nephritis in the U.S., 1995–2006 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(6):1681-1688.
It is unknown whether recent advances lupus nephritis (LN) treatment have led to changes in the incidence of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) secondary to LN, or in the characteristics, therapies, and outcomes of patients with LN ESRD.
Patients with incident LN ESRD (1995–2006) were identified in the US Renal Datasystem. Trends in sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were assessed. We tested for temporal changes in standardized incidence rates (SIRs) for sociodemographic groups using Poisson regression. Changes in rates of waitlisting for kidney transplant, kidney transplantation, and all-cause mortality were examined using crude and adjusted time-to-event analyses.
12,344 incident cases of LN ESRD were identified. Mean age at ESRD onset was 41 years; 81.6% were female and 49.5% African American. SIRs for LN ESRD among those ages 5–39, African Americans, and in the US Southeast increased significantly from 1995–2006. Increases in body mass index and the prevalence of both diabetes and hypertension were detected. Mean serum hemoglobin at ESRD onset increased, while that of serum creatinine decreased over time. More patients used hemodialysis and fewer peritoneal dialysis. There was a slight increase in pre-emptive kidney transplantation at ESRD onset, but kidney transplantation rates within the first three years of ESRD declined. Mortality did not change over 12 years of study.
The characteristics of LN ESRD patients and their initial therapies have changed in recent years. While SIRs rose in younger patients, among African Americans and in the South, outcomes did not improve in over a decade of evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3106117  PMID: 21445962
incidence; dialysis; transplantation; survival; lupus; nephritis; end-stage renal disease; chronic kidney disease; systemic lupus erythematosus; African American; Hispanic; race; women
20.  Anti-citrullinated peptide autoantibodies, human leukocyte antigen shared epitope and risk of future rheumatoid arthritis: a nested case–control study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R159.
The aim of this study was to characterize anti-citrullinated peptide antibody (ACPA) serostatus in pre-clinical rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with and without Human Leukocyte Antigen-Shared Epitope (HLA-SE) alleles.
We identified 192 women in the Nurses’ Health Study cohorts with blood samples obtained 4 months to 17 years prior to medical record-confirmed RA diagnosis. Three controls were selected matched on age, cohort, menopausal status and post-menopausal hormone use. Reactivities to 18 ACPAs were measured using a custom BioPlex platform. We used conditional logistic regression to calculate the relative risk (RR) of RA for any ACPA-positive and peptide-specific ACPA-positive and examined RRs by time between blood draw and RA onset. Measures of multiplicative and additive interaction between any ACPA-positive and HLA-SE were calculated.
All ACPAs by peptide groups were significantly associated with RA risk, RRs ranged from 4.7 to 11.7. The association between ACPA and RA varied over time with the strongest association in those with blood draw less than 5 years before onset (RR 17.0 [95% CI 5.8 to 53.7]) and no association 10 or more years prior to onset (RR 1.4 [95% CI 0.5 to 4.3]). Individuals with both HLA-SE and any ACPA-positive had the highest risk of RA. HLA-SE-positive RA cases showed reactivity to more ACPA types than HLA-SE negative (χ2 test for trend, P = 0.01).
There is increasing ACPA reactivity up to 10 years before RA onset with the strongest association within 5 years of RA onset. The magnitude of the response to ACPAs, in combination with the presence of HLA-SE, is most important for identifying those individuals with the highest risk of RA.
PMCID: PMC3953952  PMID: 24286474
21.  Osteoporosis and Cardiovascular Disease Care in SLE According to New Quality Indicators 
Quality indicators (QIs) for assessment of care of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus SLE) have been proposed. We evaluated care according to these proposed QIs for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in patients with SLE in our rheumatology practice.
We selected 200 patients with SLE according to American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Criteria and ≥ 2 visits to our practice in 2007–8. We performed a structured medical record review and collected demographics, SLE and past medical history, medications, laboratories and data concerning osteoporosis and CVD management. We employed univariable analyses and multivariable regression analyses to test for factors associated with care meeting the proposed QIs.
94% of patients were female and 64% white. Mean age was 46.3 years and mean lupus duration was 15.3 years. 29% were taking ≥ 7.5 mg prednisone per day for ≥ 3 months. The proportions of patients for whom care met the proposed QIs were: 57% for bone mineral density (BMD) testing, 62% for calcium and vitamin D supplementation, and 86% for anti-resorptive or anabolic osteoporosis medications. Only 3% had 5 cardiac risk factors assessed within the year and 26% had 4 cardiac risk factors assessed annually. Smoking, fasting lipid panels and diabetes mellitus were rarely assessed annually. Having a primary care physician (PCP) within our healthcare network increased care meeting QIs.
Care according to newly proposed QIs for osteoporosis and CVD was suboptimal in our academic center. In order to standardize and improve care of patients with SLE, we suggest specific changes to the proposed QIs.
PMCID: PMC2932869  PMID: 20378155
systemic lupus erythematosus; quality indicator; osteoporosis; cardiovascular disease; bone mineral density; screening; cholesterol; blood pressure; management; risk factor; calcium and vitamin D
22.  The 2010 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism Classification Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(9):2582-2591.
The American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism have developed new classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of Phase 2 of the development process was to achieve expert consensus on the clinical and laboratory variables that should contribute to the final criteria set.
Twenty-four expert RA clinicians (12 from Europe and 12 from North America) participated in Phase 2. A consensus-based decision analysis approach was used to identify factors (and their relative weights) that influence the probability of “developing RA,” complemented by data from the Phase 1 study. Patient case scenarios were used to identify and reach consensus on factors important in determining the probability of RA development. Decision analytic software was used to derive the relative weights for each of the factors and their categories, using choice-based conjoint analysis.
The expert panel agreed that the new classification criteria should be applied to individuals with undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis in whom at least 1 joint is deemed by an expert assessor to be swollen, indicating definite synovitis. In this clinical setting, they identified 4 additional criteria as being important: number of joints involved and site of involvement, serologic abnormality, acute-phase response, and duration of symptoms in the involved joints. These criteria were consistent with those identified in the Phase 1 data-driven approach.
The consensus-based, decision analysis approach used in Phase 2 complemented the Phase 1 efforts. The 4 criteria and their relative weights form the basis of the final criteria set.
PMCID: PMC3077961  PMID: 20872596
23.  Prevalence, Incidence and Demographics of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Lupus Nephritis among Medicaid-Enrolled U.S. Children, 2000–2004 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2669-2676.
We investigated nationwide prevalence, incidence, and sociodemographics of SLE and lupus nephritis among Medicaid-enrolled children.
Children aged 3 to <18 years with SLE (≥3 International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, codes of 710.0, all >30 days apart) were identified from Medicaid Analytic eXtract data (2000–2004), containing all inpatient and outpatient Medicaid claims for 47 U. S states and the District of Columbia. Lupus nephritis was identified from ≥2 ICD-9 billing codes >30 days apart for glomerulonephritis, proteinuria or renal failure. We calculated prevalence and incidence of SLE and lupus nephritis among Medicaid-enrolled children overall and within sociodemographic groups.
Of 30,420,597 Medicaid-enrolled children during these years, 2,959 with SLE were identified. SLE prevalence was 9.73 (95% CI 9.38 – 10.08) per 100,000. Of these, 84% were female, 40% African-American, 25% Hispanic and 21% White; 42% resided in the South. 1,106 (37%) of children with SLE had lupus nephritis: prevalence 3.64 (95% CI 3.43 – 3.86) per 100,000. The average annual incidence of SLE was 2.22 (95% CI 2.05–2.40) and that of lupus nephritis was 0.72 (95%CI 0.63– 0.83) cases per 100,000 Medicaid enrollees per year. Prevalence and incidence rates of lupus and lupus nephritis increased with age, were higher in girls than boys, and in all non-White than White racial/ethnic groups.
SLE prevalence and incidence rates among Medicaid-enrolled children in the U.S. are high compared to studies in other populations. These represent the first population-based estimates of lupus nephritis prevalence and incidence in the U.S. to date.
PMCID: PMC3564552  PMID: 22847366
Systemic lupus erythematosus; pediatric; nephritis; incidence; prevalence; Medicaid; children; disparities
24.  Antioxidant Intake and Risks of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Women 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2010;172(2):205-216.
Antioxidants may protect against development of rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus by combating oxidative stress. The authors identified and confirmed incident cases of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus among 184,643 US women followed in the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II cohorts in 1980–2004. Semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires assessed intakes of vitamins A, C, and E and α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin from foods and supplements. The authors examined total antioxidant intake by calculating a “ferric-reducing ability of plasma” score, a new method for quantifying the total antioxidant effect of a food based on the reduction of ferric to ferrous iron by antioxidants. Cumulative updated total energy-adjusted dietary intakes were used. Associations between intake of each nutrient and incident rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus were examined in age-adjusted and Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for confounders. Results from the cohorts were pooled meta-analytically by using random-effects models. The authors identified 787 incident rheumatoid arthritis cases and 192 systemic lupus erythematosus cases for whom prospective dietary information was available. In these large, prospective cohorts of women, antioxidant intake was not associated with the risk of developing either rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus.
PMCID: PMC2900941  PMID: 20534819
antioxidants; arthritis, rheumatoid; diet; food; lupus erythematosus, systemic; risk factors; vitamins

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