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1.  Genome-wide association study meta-analysis identifies seven new rheumatoid arthritis risk loci 
Nature genetics  2010;42(6):508-514.
To identify novel genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis of 5,539 autoantibody positive RA cases and 20,169 controls of European descent, followed by replication in an independent set of 6,768 RA cases and 8,806 controls. Of 34 SNPs selected for replication, 7 novel RA risk alleles were identified at genome-wide significance (P<5×10−8) in analysis of all 41,282 samples. The associated SNPs are near genes of known immune function, including IL6ST, SPRED2, RBPJ, CCR6, IRF5, and PXK. We also refined the risk alleles at two established RA risk loci (IL2RA and CCL21) and confirmed the association at AFF3. These new associations bring the total number of confirmed RA risk loci to 31 among individuals of European ancestry. An additional 11 SNPs replicated at P<0.05, many of which are validated autoimmune risk alleles, suggesting that most represent bona fide RA risk alleles.
doi:10.1038/ng.582
PMCID: PMC4243840  PMID: 20453842
2.  The 2010 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism Classification Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(9):2582-2591.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/art.27580
PMCID: PMC3077961  PMID: 20872596
3.  Association of a Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism in CD40 With the Rate of Joint Destruction in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(8):2242-2247.
Objective
The severity of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is highly variable from patient to patient and is influenced by genetic factors. Genome-wide association studies have enormously boosted the field of the genetics of RA susceptibility, but risk loci for RA severity remain poorly defined. A recent meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identified 6 genetic regions for susceptibility to autoantibody-positive RA: CD40, KIF5A/PIP4K2C, CDK6, CCL21, PRKCQ, and MMEL1/TNFRSF14. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether these newly described genetic regions are associated with the rate of joint destruction.
Methods
RA patients enrolled in the Leiden Early Arthritis Clinic were studied (n = 563). Yearly radiographs were scored using the Sharp/van der Heijde method (median followup 5 years; maximum followup 9 years). The rate of joint destruction between genotype groups was compared using a linear mixed model, correcting for age, sex, and treatment strategies. A total of 393 anti–citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA)–positive RA patients from the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium (NARAC) who had radiographic data available were used for the replication study.
Results
The TT and CC/CG genotypes of 2 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, rs4810485 (CD40) and rs42041 (CDK6), respectively, were associated with a higher rate of joint destruction in ACPA-positive RA patients (P = 0.003 and P = 0.012, respectively), with rs4810485 being significant after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing. The association of the CD40 minor allele with the rate of radiographic progression was replicated in the NARAC cohort (P = 0.021).
Conclusion
A polymorphism in the CD40 locus is associated with the rate of joint destruction in patients with ACPA-positive RA. Our findings provide one of the first non–HLA-related genetic severity factors that has been replicated.
doi:10.1002/art.24721
PMCID: PMC3121053  PMID: 19644859
4.  Genetics of rheumatoid arthritis contributes to biology and drug discovery 
Okada, Yukinori | Wu, Di | Trynka, Gosia | Raj, Towfique | Terao, Chikashi | Ikari, Katsunori | Kochi, Yuta | Ohmura, Koichiro | Suzuki, Akari | Yoshida, Shinji | Graham, Robert R. | Manoharan, Arun | Ortmann, Ward | Bhangale, Tushar | Denny, Joshua C. | Carroll, Robert J. | Eyler, Anne E. | Greenberg, Jeffrey D. | Kremer, Joel M. | Pappas, Dimitrios A. | Jiang, Lei | Yin, Jian | Ye, Lingying | Su, Ding-Feng | Yang, Jian | Xie, Gang | Keystone, Ed | Westra, Harm-Jan | Esko, Tõnu | Metspalu, Andres | Zhou, Xuezhong | Gupta, Namrata | Mirel, Daniel | Stahl, Eli A. | Diogo, Dorothée | Cui, Jing | Liao, Katherine | Guo, Michael H. | Myouzen, Keiko | Kawaguchi, Takahisa | Coenen, Marieke J.H. | van Riel, Piet L.C.M. | van de Laar, Mart A.F.J. | Guchelaar, Henk-Jan | Huizinga, Tom W.J. | Dieudé, Philippe | Mariette, Xavier | Bridges, S. Louis | Zhernakova, Alexandra | Toes, Rene E.M. | Tak, Paul P. | Miceli-Richard, Corinne | Bang, So-Young | Lee, Hye-Soon | Martin, Javier | Gonzalez-Gay, Miguel A. | Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Luis | Rantapää-Dahlqvist, Solbritt | Ärlestig, Lisbeth | Choi, Hyon K. | Kamatani, Yoichiro | Galan, Pilar | Lathrop, Mark | Eyre, Steve | Bowes, John | Barton, Anne | de Vries, Niek | Moreland, Larry W. | Criswell, Lindsey A. | Karlson, Elizabeth W. | Taniguchi, Atsuo | Yamada, Ryo | Kubo, Michiaki | Liu, Jun S. | Bae, Sang-Cheol | Worthington, Jane | Padyukov, Leonid | Klareskog, Lars | Gregersen, Peter K. | Raychaudhuri, Soumya | Stranger, Barbara E. | De Jager, Philip L. | Franke, Lude | Visscher, Peter M. | Brown, Matthew A. | Yamanaka, Hisashi | Mimori, Tsuneyo | Takahashi, Atsushi | Xu, Huji | Behrens, Timothy W. | Siminovitch, Katherine A. | Momohara, Shigeki | Matsuda, Fumihiko | Yamamoto, Kazuhiko | Plenge, Robert M.
Nature  2013;506(7488):376-381.
A major challenge in human genetics is to devise a systematic strategy to integrate disease-associated variants with diverse genomic and biological datasets to provide insight into disease pathogenesis and guide drug discovery for complex traits such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA)1. Here, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis in a total of >100,000 subjects of European and Asian ancestries (29,880 RA cases and 73,758 controls), by evaluating ~10 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We discovered 42 novel RA risk loci at a genome-wide level of significance, bringing the total to 1012–4. We devised an in-silico pipeline using established bioinformatics methods based on functional annotation5, cis-acting expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL)6, and pathway analyses7–9 – as well as novel methods based on genetic overlap with human primary immunodeficiency (PID), hematological cancer somatic mutations and knock-out mouse phenotypes – to identify 98 biological candidate genes at these 101 risk loci. We demonstrate that these genes are the targets of approved therapies for RA, and further suggest that drugs approved for other indications may be repurposed for the treatment of RA. Together, this comprehensive genetic study sheds light on fundamental genes, pathways and cell types that contribute to RA pathogenesis, and provides empirical evidence that the genetics of RA can provide important information for drug discovery.
doi:10.1038/nature12873
PMCID: PMC3944098  PMID: 24390342
5.  Antibodies Specific for Carbamylated Proteins Precede the Onset of Clinical Symptoms in Mice with Collagen Induced Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102163.
Objective
The immune response to post-translationally modified antigens is a key characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. Carbamylation is such a posttranslational modification. Recently, we demonstrated that autoantibodies recognizing carbamylated proteins are present in sera of rheumatoid arthritis. The molecular mechanisms underlying the break of tolerance and hence the induction of anti-CarP antibody responses are unknown as well as their appearance in mouse models for systemic arthritis. Therefore we analyzed their appearance in the mouse collagen-induced arthritis model.
Methods
collagen induced arthritis was induced by immunization with type II collagen in complete Freund's adjuvant. Arthritis severity was monitored by clinical scoring and anti-CarP antibody levels were determined by ELISA.
Results
Anti-CarP antibodies were detectable in mice with collagen induced arthritis. We did not detect ACPA in mice with collagen induced arthritis. The specificity of the antibodies for carbamylated proteins was confirmed by inhibition assays and immunoblotting. Injection with complete Freund's adjuvant without type II collagen could also induce anti-CarP antibodies, however, in mice with arthritis, the anti-CarP antibody response was stronger and developed more rapidly. The onset of collagen induced arthritis was preceded by an increase of anti-CarP IgG2a levels in the serum.
Conclusion
In mice with collagen induced arthritis we did not observe an immune response against citrullinated antigens, but we did observe an immune response against carbamylated antigens. This anti-CarP response already appeared before disease onset, indicating that collagen induced arthritis can be used as an in vivo model to study anti-CarP antibodies. Our data also indicate that the tolerance to carbamylated proteins, in contrast to the response to citrullinated proteins, is easily broken and that arthritis boosts the immune response against these proteins. The anti-CarP response in mice with CIA can be used as a model for immune responses to post-translationally modified proteins.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102163
PMCID: PMC4099068  PMID: 25025869
7.  Tweaking Microtubules to Treat Scleroderma 
PLoS Medicine  2005;2(12):e415.
van Laar and Huizinga discuss a new study of a mouse model of scleroderma, which showed that stabilizing microtubules with paclitaxel led to reduced fibrosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020415
PMCID: PMC1322299  PMID: 16363912
8.  Integration of Sequence Data from a Consanguineous Family with Genetic Data from an Outbred Population Identifies PLB1 as a Candidate Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Gene 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87645.
Integrating genetic data from families with highly penetrant forms of disease together with genetic data from outbred populations represents a promising strategy to uncover the complete frequency spectrum of risk alleles for complex traits such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here, we demonstrate that rare, low-frequency and common alleles at one gene locus, phospholipase B1 (PLB1), might contribute to risk of RA in a 4-generation consanguineous pedigree (Middle Eastern ancestry) and also in unrelated individuals from the general population (European ancestry). Through identity-by-descent (IBD) mapping and whole-exome sequencing, we identified a non-synonymous c.2263G>C (p.G755R) mutation at the PLB1 gene on 2q23, which significantly co-segregated with RA in family members with a dominant mode of inheritance (P = 0.009). We further evaluated PLB1 variants and risk of RA using a GWAS meta-analysis of 8,875 RA cases and 29,367 controls of European ancestry. We identified significant contributions of two independent non-coding variants near PLB1 with risk of RA (rs116018341 [MAF = 0.042] and rs116541814 [MAF = 0.021], combined P = 3.2×10−6). Finally, we performed deep exon sequencing of PLB1 in 1,088 RA cases and 1,088 controls (European ancestry), and identified suggestive dispersion of rare protein-coding variant frequencies between cases and controls (P = 0.049 for C-alpha test and P = 0.055 for SKAT). Together, these data suggest that PLB1 is a candidate risk gene for RA. Future studies to characterize the full spectrum of genetic risk in the PLB1 genetic locus are warranted.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087645
PMCID: PMC3919745  PMID: 24520335
9.  High density genetic mapping identifies new susceptibility loci for rheumatoid arthritis 
Nature genetics  2012;44(12):1336-1340.
Summary
Using the Immunochip custom single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array, designed for dense genotyping of 186 genome wide association study (GWAS) confirmed loci we analysed 11,475 rheumatoid arthritis cases of European ancestry and 15,870 controls for 129,464 markers. The data were combined in meta-analysis with GWAS data from additional independent cases (n=2,363) and controls (n=17,872). We identified fourteen novel loci; nine were associated with rheumatoid arthritis overall and 5 specifically in anti-citrillunated peptide antibody positive disease, bringing the number of confirmed European ancestry rheumatoid arthritis loci to 46. We refined the peak of association to a single gene for 19 loci, identified secondary independent effects at six loci and association to low frequency variants (minor allele frequency <0.05) at 4 loci. Bioinformatic analysis of the data generated strong hypotheses for the causal SNP at seven loci. This study illustrates the advantages of dense SNP mapping analysis to inform subsequent functional investigations.
doi:10.1038/ng.2462
PMCID: PMC3605761  PMID: 23143596
10.  Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Allele PTPRC Is Also Associated With Response to Anti–Tumor Necrosis Factor α Therapy 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(7):1849-1861.
Objective
Anti–tumor necrosis factor α (anti-TNF) therapy is a mainstay of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of the present study was to test established RA genetic risk factors to determine whether the same alleles also influence the response to anti-TNF therapy.
Methods
A total of 1,283 RA patients receiving etanercept, infliximab, or adalimumab therapy were studied from among an international collaborative consortium of 9 different RA cohorts. The primary end point compared RA patients with a good treatment response according to the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria (n = 505) with RA patients considered to be nonresponders (n = 316). The secondary end point was the change from baseline in the level of disease activity according to the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (ΔDAS28). Clinical factors such as age, sex, and concomitant medications were tested as possible correlates of treatment response. Thirty-one single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the risk of RA were genotyped and tested for any association with treatment response, using univariate and multivariate logistic regression models.
Results
Of the 31 RA-associated risk alleles, a SNP at the PTPRC (also known as CD45) gene locus (rs10919563) was associated with the primary end point, a EULAR good response versus no response (odds ratio [OR] 0.55, P = 0.0001 in the multivariate model). Similar results were obtained using the secondary end point, the ΔDAS28 (P = 0.0002). There was suggestive evidence of a stronger association in autoantibody-positive patients with RA (OR 0.55, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.39–0.76) as compared with autoantibody-negative patients (OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.41–1.99).
Conclusion
Statistically significant associations were observed between the response to anti-TNF therapy and an RA risk allele at the PTPRC gene locus. Additional studies will be required to replicate this finding in additional patient collections.
doi:10.1002/art.27457
PMCID: PMC3652476  PMID: 20309874
11.  Genome-Wide Association Study and Gene Expression Analysis Identifies CD84 as a Predictor of Response to Etanercept Therapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003394.
Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNF) biologic therapy is a widely used treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is unknown why some RA patients fail to respond adequately to anti-TNF therapy, which limits the development of clinical biomarkers to predict response or new drugs to target refractory cases. To understand the biological basis of response to anti-TNF therapy, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis of more than 2 million common variants in 2,706 RA patients from 13 different collections. Patients were treated with one of three anti-TNF medications: etanercept (n = 733), infliximab (n = 894), or adalimumab (n = 1,071). We identified a SNP (rs6427528) at the 1q23 locus that was associated with change in disease activity score (ΔDAS) in the etanercept subset of patients (P = 8×10−8), but not in the infliximab or adalimumab subsets (P>0.05). The SNP is predicted to disrupt transcription factor binding site motifs in the 3′ UTR of an immune-related gene, CD84, and the allele associated with better response to etanercept was associated with higher CD84 gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (P = 1×10−11 in 228 non-RA patients and P = 0.004 in 132 RA patients). Consistent with the genetic findings, higher CD84 gene expression correlated with lower cross-sectional DAS (P = 0.02, n = 210) and showed a non-significant trend for better ΔDAS in a subset of RA patients with gene expression data (n = 31, etanercept-treated). A small, multi-ethnic replication showed a non-significant trend towards an association among etanercept-treated RA patients of Portuguese ancestry (n = 139, P = 0.4), but no association among patients of Japanese ancestry (n = 151, P = 0.8). Our study demonstrates that an allele associated with response to etanercept therapy is also associated with CD84 gene expression, and further that CD84 expression correlates with disease activity. These findings support a model in which CD84 genotypes and/or expression may serve as a useful biomarker for response to etanercept treatment in RA patients of European ancestry.
Author Summary
There are no genetic predictors of response to one of the most widely used classes of drugs in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis—biological modifiers of the inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (or anti-TNF therapy). To identify genetic predictors, we performed the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) to date as part of an international collaboration. In our study, which included 2,706 RA patients treated with one of three anti-TNF drugs, the most significant finding was restricted to RA patients treated with etanercept (P = 8×10−8), a drug that acts as a soluble receptor to bind circulating cytokine and prevents TNF from binding to its cell surface receptor. The associated variant influences expression of a nearby immune-related gene, CD84, whose expression is correlated with disease activity in RA patients. Together, our data support a model in which genomic factors related to CD84 expression serve as a predictor of disease activity and response to etanercept therapy among RA patients of European ancestry, but not anti-TNF therapies that act through different biological mechanisms or potentially in RA patients of other genetic ancestries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003394
PMCID: PMC3610685  PMID: 23555300
12.  An evaluation of molecular and clinical remission in rheumatoid arthritis by assessing radiographic progression 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2013;52(5):839-846.
Objectives. To determine whether molecular remission defined by a multi-biomarker disease activity (MBDA) score predicts a reduced risk of joint damage progression, and whether the MBDA score can augment existing classifications of remission.
Methods. The study examined 271 visits for 163 RA patients in the Leiden Early Arthritis Cohort. The MBDA score and other variables from each visit were evaluated for prediction of progression [change in Sharp–van der Heijde Score (ΔSHS) >3] over the ensuing 12 months. Positive likelihood ratios (PLRs) for non-progression were calculated for remission based upon DAS based on 28-joint counts and CRP (DAS28-CRP <2.32), EULAR/ACR Boolean criteria and MBDA score (≤25).
Results. Ninety-three per cent of patients in MBDA-defined remission did not experience progression, compared with 70% of patients not in MBDA remission (P = 0.001). There were no significant differences in the fraction of non-progressers between patients in remission and those not in remission using either DAS28-CRP or EULAR/ACR criteria. The PLR for non-progression over 12 months for MBDA remission was 4.73 (95% CI 1.67, 15.0). Among patients in DAS28-CRP remission, those with a high MBDA score were 2.3 times as likely (95% CI 1.1, 3.7) to have joint damage progression during the next year.
Conclusion. MBDA-defined remission was an indicator of limited radiographic progression over the following 12 months. For patients in DAS28-CRP remission, high MBDA scores were a significant indicator of elevated risk of progression. MBDA results may provide a useful adjunct to clinical assessment to identify progression-free remission and assess subclinical disease.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/kes378
PMCID: PMC3630394  PMID: 23287359
biomarkers; rheumatoid arthritis; remission; EAC; radiographic progression
13.  Variants of gene for microsomal prostaglandin E2 synthase show association with disease and severe inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis 
Microsomal PGE synthase 1 (mPGES-1) is the terminal enzyme in the induced state of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) synthesis and constitutes a therapeutic target for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment. We examined the role of the prostaglandin E synthase (PTGES) gene polymorphism in susceptibility to and severity of RA and related variations in the gene to its function. The PTGES gene polymorphism was analyzed in 3081 RA patients and 1900 controls from two study populations: Swedish Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (EIRA) and the Leiden Early Arthritis Clinic (Leiden EAC). Baseline disease activity score (DAS28) was employed as a disease severity measure. mPGES-1 expression was analyzed in synovial tissue from RA patients with known genotypes using immunohistochemistry. In the Swedish study population, among women a significant association with risk for RA was observed for PTGES single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in univariate analysis and for the distinct haplotype. These results were substantiated by meta-analysis of data from EIRA and Leiden EAC studies with overall OR 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.11–1.56). Several PTGES SNPs were associated with earlier onset of disease or with higher DAS28 in women with RA. Patients with the genotype associated with higher DAS28 exhibited significantly higher mPGES-1 expression in synovial tissue. Our data reveal a possible influence of PTGES polymorphism on the pathogenesis of RA and on disease severity through upregulation of mPGES-1 at the sites of inflammation. Genetically predisposed individuals may develop earlier and more active disease owing to this mechanism.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2011.50
PMCID: PMC3172931  PMID: 21448233
mPGES-1; gene polymorphism; rheumatoid arthritis; gender
14.  Association between Several Clinical and Radiological Determinants with Long-Term Clinical Progression and Good Prognosis of Lower Limb Osteoarthritis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25426.
Objective
To investigate the factors associated with clinical progression and good prognosis in patients with lower limb osteoarthritis (OA).
Methods
Cohort study of 145 patients with OA in either knee, hip or both. Progression was defined as 1) new joint prosthesis or 2) increase in WOMAC pain or function score during 6-years follow-up above pre-defined thresholds. Patients without progression with decrease in WOMAC pain or function score lower than pre-defined thresholds were categorized as good prognosis. Relative risks (RRs) for progression and good prognosis with 95% confidence interval (95% CI) were calculated by comparing the highest tertile or category to the lowest tertile, for baseline determinants (age, sex, BMI, WOMAC pain and function scores, pain on physical examination, total range of motion (tROM), osteophytes and joint space narrowing (JSN) scores), and for worsening in WOMAC pain and function score in 1-year. Adjustments were performed for age, sex, and BMI.
Results
Follow-up was completed by 117 patients (81%, median age 60 years, 84% female); 62 (53%) and 31 patients (26%) showed progression and good prognosis, respectively. These following determinants were associated with progression: pain on physical examination (RR 1.2 (1.0 to 1.5)); tROM (1.4 (1.1 to 1.6); worsening in WOMAC pain (1.9 (1.2 to 2.3)); worsening in WOMAC function (2.4 (1.7 to 2.6)); osteophytes 1.5 (1.0 to 1.8); and JSN scores (2.3 (1.5 to 2.7)). Worsening in WOMAC pain (0.1 (0.1 to 0.8)) and function score (0.1 (0.1 to 0.7)), were negatively associated with good prognosis.
Conclusion
Worsening of self-reported pain and function in one year, limited tROM and higher osteophytes and JSN scores were associated with clinical progression. Worsening in WOMAC pain and function score in 1- year were associated with lower risk to have good prognosis. These findings help to inform patients with regard to their OA prognosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025426
PMCID: PMC3198737  PMID: 22031816
15.  Genetic variants at CD28, PRDM1, and CD2/CD58 are associated with rheumatoid arthritis risk 
Nature genetics  2009;41(12):1313-1318.
To discover novel RA risk loci, we systematically examined 370 SNPs from 179 independent loci with p<0.001 in a published meta-analysis of RA GWAS of 3,393 cases and 12,462 controls1. We used GRAIL2, a computational method that applies statistical text mining to PubMed abstracts, to score these 179 loci for functional relationships to genes in 16 established RA disease loci1,3-11. We identified 22 loci with a significant degree of functional connectivity. We genotyped 22 representative SNPs in an independent set of 7,957 cases and 11,958 matched controls. Three validate convincingly: CD2/CD58 (rs11586238, p=1×10−6 replication, p=1×10−9 overall), and CD28 (rs1980422, p=5×10−6 replication, p=1×10−9 overall), PRDM1 (rs548234, p=1×10−5 replication, p=2×10−8 overall). An additional four replicate (p<0.0023): TAGAP (rs394581, p=0.0002 replication, p=4×10−7 overall), PTPRC (rs10919563, p=0.0003 replication, p=7×10−7 overall), TRAF6/RAG1 (rs540386, p=0.0008 replication, p=4×10−6 overall), and FCGR2A (rs12746613, p=0.0022 replication, p=2×10−5 overall). Many of these loci are also associated to other immunologic diseases.
doi:10.1038/ng.479
PMCID: PMC3142887  PMID: 19898481
16.  Genetics of rheumatoid arthritis: what have we learned? 
Immunogenetics  2011;63(8):459-466.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting 0.5–1% of the population worldwide. The disease has a heterogeneous character, including clinical subsets of anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA)-positive and APCA-negative disease. Although the pathogenesis of RA is poorly understood, progress has been made in identifying genetic factors that contribute to the disease. The most important genetic risk factor for RA is found in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) locus. In particular, the HLA molecules carrying the amino acid sequence QKRAA, QRRAA, or RRRAA at positions 70–74 of the DRβ1 chain are associated with the disease. The HLA molecules carrying these “shared epitope” sequences only predispose for ACPA-positive disease. More than two decades after the discovery of HLA-DRB1 as a genetic risk factor, the second genetic risk factor for RA was identified in 2003. The introduction of new techniques, such as methods to perform genome-wide association has led to the identification of more than 20 additional genetic risk factors within the last 4 years, with most of these factors being located near genes implicated in immunological pathways. These findings underscore the role of the immune system in RA pathogenesis and may provide valuable insight into the specific pathways that cause RA.
doi:10.1007/s00251-011-0528-6
PMCID: PMC3132380  PMID: 21556860
Rheumatoid arthritis; Shared epitope; HLA; DERAA; ACPA
17.  Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies in Celiac Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis Identifies Fourteen Non-HLA Shared Loci 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(2):e1002004.
Epidemiology and candidate gene studies indicate a shared genetic basis for celiac disease (CD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the extent of this sharing has not been systematically explored. Previous studies demonstrate that 6 of the established non-HLA CD and RA risk loci (out of 26 loci for each disease) are shared between both diseases. We hypothesized that there are additional shared risk alleles and that combining genome-wide association study (GWAS) data from each disease would increase power to identify these shared risk alleles. We performed a meta-analysis of two published GWAS on CD (4,533 cases and 10,750 controls) and RA (5,539 cases and 17,231 controls). After genotyping the top associated SNPs in 2,169 CD cases and 2,255 controls, and 2,845 RA cases and 4,944 controls, 8 additional SNPs demonstrated P<5×10−8 in a combined analysis of all 50,266 samples, including four SNPs that have not been previously confirmed in either disease: rs10892279 near the DDX6 gene (Pcombined = 1.2×10−12), rs864537 near CD247 (Pcombined = 2.2×10−11), rs2298428 near UBE2L3 (Pcombined = 2.5×10−10), and rs11203203 near UBASH3A (Pcombined = 1.1×10−8). We also confirmed that 4 gene loci previously established in either CD or RA are associated with the other autoimmune disease at combined P<5×10−8 (SH2B3, 8q24, STAT4, and TRAF1-C5). From the 14 shared gene loci, 7 SNPs showed a genome-wide significant effect on expression of one or more transcripts in the linkage disequilibrium (LD) block around the SNP. These associations implicate antigen presentation and T-cell activation as a shared mechanism of disease pathogenesis and underscore the utility of cross-disease meta-analysis for identification of genetic risk factors with pleiotropic effects between two clinically distinct diseases.
Author Summary
Celiac disease (CD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are two autoimmune diseases characterized by distinct clinical features but increased co-occurrence in families and individuals. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) performed in CD and RA have identified the HLA region and 26 non-HLA genetic risk loci in each disease. Of the 26 CD and 26 RA risk loci, previous studies have shown that six are shared between the two diseases. In this study we aimed to identify additional shared risk alleles and, in doing so, gain more insight into shared disease pathogenesis. We first empirically investigated the distribution of putative risk alleles from GWAS across both diseases (after removing known risk loci for both diseases). We found that CD risk alleles are non-randomly distributed in the RA GWAS (and vice versa), indicating that CD risk alleles have an increased prior probability of being associated with RA (and vice versa). Next, we performed a GWAS meta-analysis to search for shared risk alleles by combing the RA and CD GWAS, performing both directional and opposite allelic effect analyses, followed by replication testing in independent case-control datasets in both diseases. In addition to the already established six non-HLA shared risk loci, we observed statistically robust associations at eight SNPs, thereby increasing the number of shared non-HLA risk loci to fourteen. Finally, we used gene expression studies and pathway analysis tools to identify the plausible candidate genes in the fourteen associated loci. We observed remarkable overrepresentation of T-cell signaling molecules among the shared genes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002004
PMCID: PMC3044685  PMID: 21383967
18.  Evidence for treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: results of a systematic literature search 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(4):638-643.
Objectives
To summarise existing evidence on a target oriented approach for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment.
Methods
We conducted a systematic literature search including all clinical trials testing clinical, functional, or structural values of a targeted treatment approach. Our search covered Medline, Embase and Cochrane databases until December 2008 and also conference abstracts (2007, 2008).
Results
The primary search yielded 5881 citations; after the selection process, 76 papers underwent detailed review. Of these, only seven strategic clinical trials were extracted: four studies randomised patients to routine or targeted treatment, two compared two different randomised targets and one compared targeted treatment to a historical control group. Five trials dealt with early RA patients. All identified studies showed significantly better clinical outcomes of targeted approaches than routine approaches. Disability was reported in two studies with no difference between groups. Four studies compared radiographic outcomes, two showing significant benefit of the targeted approach.
Conclusion
Only few studies employed randomised controlled settings to test the value of treatment to a specific target. However, they provided unanimous evidence for benefits of targeted approaches. Nevertheless, more data on radiographic and functional outcomes and on patients with established RA are needed.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.123976
PMCID: PMC3015093  PMID: 20237123
19.  Common variants at CD40 and other loci confer risk of rheumatoid arthritis 
Nature genetics  2008;40(10):1216-1223.
To identify rheumatoid arthritis risk loci in European populations, we conducted a meta-analysis of two published genome-wide association (GWA) studies totaling 3,393 cases and 12,462 controls1,2. We genotyped 31 top-ranked SNPs not previously associated with rheumatoid arthritis in an independent replication of 3,929 autoantibody-positive rheumatoid arthritis cases and 5,807 matched controls from eight separate collections. We identified a common variant at the CD40 gene locus (rs4810485, P = 0.0032 replication, P = 8.2 × 10−9 overall, OR = 0.87). Along with other associations near TRAF1 (refs. 2,3) and TNFAIP3 (refs. 4,5), this implies a central role for the CD40 signaling pathway in rheumatoid arthritis pathogenesis. We also identified association at the CCL21 gene locus (rs2812378, P = 0.00097 replication, P = 2.8 × 10−7 overall), a gene involved in lymphocyte trafficking. Finally, we identified evidence of association at four additional gene loci: MMEL1-TNFRSF14 (rs3890745, P = 0.0035 replication, P = 1.1 × 10−7 overall), CDK6 (rs42041, P = 0.010 replication, P = 4.0 × 10−6 overall), PRKCQ (rs4750316, P = 0.0078 replication, P = 4.4 × 10−6 overall), and KIF5A-PIP4K2C (rs1678542, P = 0.0026 replication, P = 8.8 × 10−8 overall).
doi:10.1038/ng.233
PMCID: PMC2757650  PMID: 18794853
20.  Association of the 6q23 region with the rate of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2009;69(3):567-570.
Background
Two novel genetic polymorphisms on chromosome 6q23 are associated with susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Both polymorphisms (rs6920220 and rs10499194) reside in a region close to the gene encoding tumour necrosis factor α-induced protein 3 (TNFAIP3). TNFAIP3 is a negative regulator of NF-κB and is involved in inhibiting TNF-receptor-mediated signalling effects. Interestingly, the initial associations were detected in patients with longstanding RA. However, no association was found for rs10499194 in a Swedish cohort with early arthritis. This might be caused by over-representation of patients with severe disease in cohorts with longstanding RA.
Objective
To analyse the effect of the 6q23 region on the rate of joint destruction.
Methods
Five single nucleotide polymorphisms in 6q23 were genotyped in 324 Dutch patients with early RA. Genotypes were correlated with progression of radiographic joint damage for a follow-up time of 5 years.
Results
Two polymorphisms (rs675520 and rs9376293) were associated with severity of radiographic joint damage in patients positive for anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPA). Importantly, the effects were present after correction for confounding factors such as secular trends in treatment.
Conclusions
These data associate the 6q23 region with the rate of joint destruction in ACPA+ RA.
doi:10.1136/ard.2008.106161
PMCID: PMC2927680  PMID: 19366996
21.  Autoimmune Responses in the Rheumatoid Synovium 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):10.1371/journal.pmed.1000009.
Rene Toes and Tom Huizinga discuss a new study indicating that lymphoneogenesis in the inflamed synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis is fostering potentially pathogenic immune responses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000009
PMCID: PMC2621265  PMID: 19143469
22.  A Large-Scale Rheumatoid Arthritis Genetic Study Identifies Association at Chromosome 9q33.2 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(6):e1000107.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, systemic autoimmune disease affecting both joints and extra-articular tissues. Although some genetic risk factors for RA are well-established, most notably HLA-DRB1 and PTPN22, these markers do not fully account for the observed heritability. To identify additional susceptibility loci, we carried out a multi-tiered, case-control association study, genotyping 25,966 putative functional SNPs in 475 white North American RA patients and 475 matched controls. Significant markers were genotyped in two additional, independent, white case-control sample sets (661 cases/1322 controls from North America and 596 cases/705 controls from The Netherlands) identifying a SNP, rs1953126, on chromosome 9q33.2 that was significantly associated with RA (ORcommon = 1.28, trend Pcomb = 1.45E-06). Through a comprehensive fine-scale-mapping SNP-selection procedure, 137 additional SNPs in a 668 kb region from MEGF9 to STOM on 9q33.2 were chosen for follow-up genotyping in a staged-approach. Significant single marker results (Pcomb<0.01) spanned a large 525 kb region from FBXW2 to GSN. However, a variety of analyses identified SNPs in a 70 kb region extending from the third intron of PHF19 across TRAF1 into the TRAF1-C5 intergenic region, but excluding the C5 coding region, as the most interesting (trend Pcomb: 1.45E-06 → 5.41E-09). The observed association patterns for these SNPs had heightened statistical significance and a higher degree of consistency across sample sets. In addition, the allele frequencies for these SNPs displayed reduced variability between control groups when compared to other SNPs. Lastly, in combination with the other two known genetic risk factors, HLA-DRB1 and PTPN22, the variants reported here generate more than a 45-fold RA-risk differential.
Author Summary
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic autoimmune disorder affecting ∼1% of the population, is characterized by immune-cell–mediated destruction of the joint architecture. Gene–environment interactions are thought to underlie RA etiology. Variants within HLA-DRB1 and the hematopoietic-specific phosphatase, PTPN22, are well established RA-susceptibility loci, and although other markers have been identified, they do not fully account for the disease heritability. To identify additional susceptibility alleles, we carried out a multi-tiered, case-control association study genotyping >25,000 putative functional SNPs; here we report our finding of RA-associated variants in chromosome 9q33.2. A detailed genetic analysis of this region, incorporating HapMap information, localizes the RA-susceptibility effects to a 70 kb region that includes a portion of PHF19, all of TRAF1, and the majority of the TRAF1-C5 intergenic region, but excludes the C5 coding region. In addition to providing new insights into underlying mechanism(s) of disease and suggesting novel therapeutic targets, these data provide the underpinnings of a genetic signature that may predict individuals at increased risk for developing RA. Indeed, initial analyses of three known genetic risk factors, HLA, PTPN22, and the chromosome 9q33.2 variants described here, suggest a >45-fold difference in RA risk depending on an individual's three-locus genotype.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000107
PMCID: PMC2481282  PMID: 18648537
24.  A Candidate Gene Approach Identifies the TRAF1/C5 Region as a Risk Factor for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(9):e278.
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder affecting ∼1% of the population. The disease results from the interplay between an individual's genetic background and unknown environmental triggers. Although human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) account for ∼30% of the heritable risk, the identities of non-HLA genes explaining the remainder of the genetic component are largely unknown. Based on functional data in mice, we hypothesized that the immune-related genes complement component 5 (C5) and/or TNF receptor-associated factor 1 (TRAF1), located on Chromosome 9q33–34, would represent relevant candidate genes for RA. We therefore aimed to investigate whether this locus would play a role in RA.
Methods and Findings
We performed a multitiered case-control study using 40 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the TRAF1 and C5 (TRAF1/C5) region in a set of 290 RA patients and 254 unaffected participants (controls) of Dutch origin. Stepwise replication of significant SNPs was performed in three independent sample sets from the Netherlands (ncases/controls = 454/270), Sweden (ncases/controls = 1,500/1,000) and US (ncases/controls = 475/475). We observed a significant association (p < 0.05) of SNPs located in a haplotype block that encompasses a 65 kb region including the 3′ end of C5 as well as TRAF1. A sliding window analysis revealed an association peak at an intergenic region located ∼10 kb from both C5 and TRAF1. This peak, defined by SNP14/rs10818488, was confirmed in a total of 2,719 RA patients and 1,999 controls (odds ratiocommon = 1.28, 95% confidence interval 1.17–1.39, pcombined = 1.40 × 10−8) with a population-attributable risk of 6.1%. The A (minor susceptibility) allele of this SNP also significantly correlates with increased disease progression as determined by radiographic damage over time in RA patients (p = 0.008).
Conclusions
Using a candidate-gene approach we have identified a novel genetic risk factor for RA. Our findings indicate that a polymorphism in the TRAF1/C5 region increases the susceptibility to and severity of RA, possibly by influencing the structure, function, and/or expression levels of TRAF1 and/or C5.
Using a candidate-gene approach, Rene Toes and colleagues identified a novel genetic risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis in theTRAF1/C5 region.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a very common chronic illness that affects around 1% of people in developed countries. It is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to various tissues within the body; as well as affecting joints and causing an inflammatory arthritis, it can also affect many other organs of the body. Severe rheumatoid arthritis can be life-threatening, but even mild forms of the disease cause substantial illness and disability. Current treatments aim to give symptomatic relief with the use of simple analgesics, or anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, most patients are also treated with what are known as disease-modifying agents, which aim to prevent joint damage. Rheumatoid arthritis is known to have a genetic component. For example, an association has been shown with the part of the genome that contains the human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), which are involved in the immune response. Information on other genes involved would be helpful both for understanding the underlying cause of the disease and possibly for the discovery of new treatments.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous work in mice that have a disease similar to human rheumatoid arthritis has identified a number of possible candidate genes. One of these genes, complement component 5 (C5) is involved in the complement system—a primitive system within the body that is involved in the defense against foreign molecules. In humans the gene for C5 is located on Chromosome 9 close to another gene involved in the inflammatory response, TNF receptor-associated factor 1 (TRAF1). A preliminary study in humans of this region had shown some evidence, albeit weak, to suggest that this region might be associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The authors set out to look in more detail, and in a larger group of individuals, to see if they could prove this association.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers took 40 genetic markers, known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), from across the region that included the C5 and TRAF1 genes. SNPs have each been assigned a unique reference number that specifies a point in the human genome, and each is present in alternate forms so can be differentiated. They compared which of the alternate forms were present in 290 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 254 unaffected participants of Dutch origin. They then repeated the study in three other groups of patients and controls of Dutch, Swedish, and US origin. They found a consistent association with rheumatoid arthritis of one region of 65 kilobases (a small distance in genetic terms) that included one end of the C5 gene as well as the TRAF1 gene. They could refine the area of interest to a piece marked by one particular SNP that lay between the genes. They went on to show that the genetic region in which these genes are located may be involved in the binding of a protein that modifies the transcription of genes, thus providing a possible explanation for the association. Furthermore, they showed that one of the alternate versions of the marker in this region was associated with more aggressive disease.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The finding of a genetic association is the first step in identifying a genetic component of a disease. The strength of this study is that a novel genetic susceptibility factor for RA has been identified and that the overall result is consistent in four different populations as well as being associated with disease severity. Further work will need to be done to confirm the association in other populations and then to identify the precise genetic change involved. Hopefully this work will lead to new avenues of investigation for therapy.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040278.
• Medline Plus, the health information site for patients from the US National Library of Medicine, has a page of resources on rheumatoid arthritis
• The UK's National Health Service online information site has information on rheumatoid arthritis
• The Arthritis Research Campaign, a UK charity that funds research on all types of arthritis, has a booklet with information for patients on rheumatoid arthritis
• Reumafonds, a Dutch arthritis foundation, gives information on rheumatoid arthritis (in Dutch)
• Autocure is an initiative whose objective is to transform knowledge obtained from molecular research into a cure for an increasing number of patients suffering from inflammatory rheumatic diseases
• The European league against Rheumatism, an organisation which represents the patient, health professionals, and scientific societies of rheumatology of all European nations
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040278
PMCID: PMC1976626  PMID: 17880261
25.  Selective Involvement of the Amygdala in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e499.
Background
Antibodies specifically affect the amygdala in a mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The aim of our study was to investigate whether there is also specific involvement of the amygdala in human SLE.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed a group of 37 patients with neuropsychiatric SLE (NP-SLE), 21 patients with SLE, and a group of 12 healthy control participants with diffusion weighted imaging (DWI). In addition, in a subset of eight patients, plasma was available to determine their anti-NMDAR antibody status. From the structural magnetic resonance imaging data, the amygdala and the hippocampus were segmented, as well as the white and gray matter, and the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) was retrieved. ADC values between controls, patients with SLE, and patients with NP-SLE were tested using analysis of variance with post-hoc Bonferroni correction. No differences were found in the gray or white matter segments. The average ADC in the amygdala of patients with NP-SLE and SLE (940 × 10−6 mm2/s; p = 0.006 and 949 × 10−6 mm2/s; p = 0.019, respectively) was lower than in healthy control participants (1152 × 10−6 mm2/s). Mann-Whitney analysis revealed that the average ADC in the amygdala of patients with anti-NMDAR antibodies (n = 4; 802 × 10−6 mm2/s) was lower (p = 0.029) than the average ADC of patients without anti-NMDAR antibodies (n = 4; 979 × 10−6 mm2/s) and also lower (p = 0.001) than in healthy control participants.
Conclusions
This is the first study to our knowledge to observe damage in the amygdala in patients with SLE. Patients with SLE with anti-NMDAR antibodies had more severe damage in the amygdala compared to SLE patients without anti-NMDAR antibodies.
Patients with SLE who also had antibodies against the NMDA receptor had more severe damage in the amygdala as compared with patients with SLE without these antibodies.
Editors' Summary
Background.
The human body is continually attacked by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, but the immune system usually prevents these pathogens from causing disease. To be effective, the immune system has to respond rapidly to foreign antigens (bits of proteins that are unique to the pathogen) but ignore self-antigens. In autoimmune diseases, this ability to discriminate between self and nonself fails for unknown reasons, and the immune system begins to destroy human tissues. In the chronic autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), the immune system attacks the skin, joints, nervous system, and many other organs. Patients with SLE make numerous “autoantibodies” (antibodies are molecules made by the immune system that recognize and attack antigens; autoantibodies attack self-antigens). These autoantibodies start the attack on the body; then other parts of the immune system join in, causing inflammation and forming deposits of immune cells, both of which damage tissues. Common symptoms of SLE include skin rashes and arthritis, but some patients develop NP-SLE, a form of SLE that includes neuropsychiatric symptoms such as amnesia, dementia, mood disorders, strokes, and seizures. There is no cure for SLE, but mild cases are controlled with ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; severe cases are kept in check with corticosteroids and other powerful immunosuppressants.
Why Was This Study Done?
In most of the tissues affected by SLE, the damage done by autoantibodies and immune cells can be seen when the tissues are examined with a microscope. But there is little microscopic damage visible in the brains of patients with NP-SLE. More generally, it is unclear how or even whether the immune system affects mental functions and emotion. In this study, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate whether there are any structural changes in the brains of patients with NP-SLE that could explain their neuropsychiatric symptoms. They have also examined whether any changes in the brain can be linked to the presence of autoantibodies that recognize a protein called the NMDA receptor (anti-NMDAR antibodies) that is present on brain cells.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used an MRI technique called diffusion weighted imaging to examine the brains of several patients with NP-SLE or SLE and the brains of several healthy individuals. Using this technique, it is possible to quantify the amount of structural damage in different regions of the brain. The researchers found no differences in most areas of the brain between the two groups of patients and the healthy controls. However, there were clear signs of damage in the amygdala (the part of the brain that regulates emotions and triggers responses to danger) in the patients with SLE or NP-SLE when compared to the control individuals. The researchers also found that the damage was more severe in the patients who had anti-NMDAR autoantibodies than in those that did not have these autoantibodies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that autoantibodies produced by patients with SLE specifically damage the amygdala, a discovery that helps to explain some of the neuropsychiatric symptoms of this condition. Previous work has shown that the treatment of mice with anti-NMDAR antibodies and epinephrine, a stress hormone that causes leaks in the blood-brain barrier (antibodies can't usually get into the brain because of this barrier), results in damage to the amygdala and a deficient response to dangerous stimuli. The researchers suggest that a similar series of events might happen in SLE—patients often mention that a period of major stress precedes the development of symptoms. To provide stronger evidence for such a scenario, a detailed study of how stress relates to neuropsychiatric symptoms is needed. The damage to the amygdala (and the lack of damage elsewhere in the brain) and the possible association between brain damage and anti-NMDAR antibodies seen in this small study also need to be confirmed in more patients. Nevertheless, these findings provide an intriguing glimpse into the interplay between the immune system and the brain and into how stress might lead to physical damage in the brain.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030499.
MedlinePlus encyclopedia pages on autoimmunity and on systemic lupus erythematosus
US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases booklet for patients with SLE
American College of Rheumatology information for patients on SLE
NHS Direct Online Health Encyclopedia pages on SLE
The Lupus Foundation of America information and support for patients with SLE
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030499
PMCID: PMC1702559  PMID: 17177602

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