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1.  CXCL13 antibody for the treatment of autoimmune disorders 
BMC Immunology  2015;16(1):6.
Homeostatic B Cell-Attracting chemokine 1 (BCA-1) otherwise known as CXCL13 is constitutively expressed in secondary lymphoid organs by follicular dendritic cells (FDC) and macrophages. It is the only known ligand for the CXCR5 receptor, which is expressed on mature B cells, follicular helper T cells (Tfh), Th17 cells and regulatory T (Treg) cells. Aberrant expression of CXCL13 within ectopic germinal centers has been linked to the development of autoimmune disorders (e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosis). We, therefore, hypothesized that antibody-mediated disruption of the CXCL13 signaling pathway would interfere with the formation of ectopic lymphoid follicles in the target organs and inhibit autoimmune disease progression. This work describes pre-clinical development of human anti-CXCL13 antibody MAb 5261 and includes therapeutic efficacy data of its mouse counterpart in murine models of autoimmunity.
We developed a human IgG1 monoclonal antibody, MAb 5261 that specifically binds to human, rodent and primate CXCL13 with an affinity of approximately 5 nM and is capable of neutralizing the activity of CXCL13 from these various species in in vitro functional assays. For in vivo studies we have engineered a chimeric antibody to contain the same human heavy and light chain variable genes along with mouse constant regions. Treatment with this antibody led to a reduction in the number of germinal centers in mice immunized with 4-Hydroxy-3-nitrophenylacetyl hapten conjugated to Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin (NP-KLH) and, in adoptive transfer studies, interfered with the trafficking of B cells to the B cell areas of mouse spleen. Furthermore, this mouse anti-CXCL13 antibody demonstrated efficacy in a mouse model of Rheumatoid arthritis (Collagen-Induced Arthritis (CIA)) and Th17-mediated murine model of Multiple Sclerosis (passively-induced Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE)).
We developed a novel therapeutic antibody targeting CXCL13-mediated signaling pathway for the treatment of autoimmune disorders.
PMCID: PMC4329654
CXCL13; Chemokine; Monoclonal antibody; Collagen-induced arthritis; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
2.  Disease screening profiles and colostrum management practices on 16 Irish suckler beef farms 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2015;68(1):1.
Calf output is a key element in determining the profitability of a suckler beef enterprise. Infectious agents such as Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD) virus, colostrum management and parasitic challenge can all affect calf output. Prior to the national BVD eradication programme, there was little published information on either the prevalence or effect of BVD in Irish beef herds. There is little published information on colostrum management practices in Irish commercial beef herds and there have also been few studies published on the prevalence of liver fluke or rumen fluke infection in Irish beef herds. Sixteen farms participating in the Teagasc/Farmers Journal BETTER farm beef programme were used in this study. Fourteen herds were screened for the presence of BVD virus in 2010 using RT-PCR. In 13 herds, blood samples were collected from calves (2–14 days of age) in November 2011 - April 2012 to determine their passive immune status using the zinc sulphate turbidity (ZST) test, while in 12 herds, blood and faecal samples were taken in order to determine the level of exposure to gastrointestinal and hepatic helminths.
The overall prevalence of BVD virus-positive cattle was 0.98% (range 0 - 3% per herd, range 0.6 - 3.0% per positive herd). Eighteen of the 82 calves (22%) sampled had ZST values less than 20 units (herd mean range 17.0 – 38.5 units) indicating a failure of passive transfer. The overall animal-level (herd-level) prevalence of liver fluke and rumen fluke infection in these herds was 40.5% (100%) and 20.8% (75%), respectively.
The potential costs associated with the presence of animals persistently infected with BVD virus through the increased use of antibiotics; the rate of failure of passive transfer of colostral immunoglobulins and the high prevalence of liver fluke infection in these herds highlight that some Irish suckler beef farms may not be realizing their economic potential due to a range of herd health issues. The use of farm-specific herd health plans should be further encouraged on Irish suckler beef farms.
PMCID: PMC4311419  PMID: 25642324
Beef; BVD; Colostrum; Herd health; Liver fluke; Rumen fluke; Suckler
3.  Creatine phosphokinase elevation exacerbated by levetiracetam therapy 
A 19-year-old muscular male with a history of epilepsy presented following two convulsive events. Levetiracetam (LEV) was given as an additional therapy, resulting in a marked boost in creatine phosphokinase (CPK) that could not easily be explained by renal dysfunction or rhabdomyolysis alone. Levetiracetam discontinuation caused CPK levels to quickly normalize and should be considered in patients with persisting CPK elevations postconvulsive seizure.
PMCID: PMC4308055  PMID: 25667904
Epilepsy; Toxicity; Rhabdomyolysis; Renal; Sarcolemma; Muscle
4.  Self-reported adult footwear and the risks of lower limb osteoarthritis: the GOAL case control study 
Biomechanical factors may play a role in osteoarthritis (OA) development and progression. Previous biomechanical studies have indicated that types of footwear may modulate forces across the knee joint, and high heeled womens’ shoes in particular are hypothesised to be detrimental to lower limb joint health. This analysis of data from a case control study investigated persistent users of different adult footwear for risks of knee and hip OA. Our underlying hypotheses were that high heeled, narrow heeled, and hard soled shoe types were putative risk factors for lower limb OA.
Data on footwear were initially obtained from participants during the Genetics of Osteoarthritis and Lifestyle (GOAL) hospital-based, case control study using standardised interview-delivered questionnaires. An additional questionnaire was later sent to GOAL study participants to verify findings and to further investigate specific shoe use per decade of life. Persistent users of footwear types (high or narrow heel; sole thickness or hardness) were identified from early adulthood. Participants were grouped into single sex knee OA, hip OA or control groups. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated.
Univariate analysis of persistent users of women’s high heeled and narrow heeled shoes during early adulthood showed negative associations with knee OA and hip OA. After logistic regression, persistent narrow heel users were associated with less risk of OA (knee OA aOR 0.59, 95% CI 0.35 – 1.00 and hip aOR: 0.50, 95% CI 0.30 – 0.85), and other analyses were not statistically significant. Further analysis suggested that women with hip OA may have stopped wearing high and narrow heeled footwear to attenuate hip pain in early adulthood. Consistent associations between shoe soles and OA were not found.
In general, persistent users of high and narrow heeled shoes during early adulthood had a negative association with knee or hip OA. This does not necessarily imply a causal relationship, as changing footwear during early adulthood to modulate index joint pain may provide a possible explanation. Despite the findings of previous biomechanical studies of high heels, we did not find a positive association between women’s shoes and lower limb osteoarthritis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-308) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4190490  PMID: 25240981
Footwear; Osteoarthritis; Hip; Knee; Shoe
5.  Aspects of bovine herpesvirus 1 and bovine viral diarrhoea virus herd-level seroprevalence and vaccination in dairy and beef herds in Northern Ireland 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2014;67(1):18.
Infections with bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1) and bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) virus cause diseases of cattle with a worldwide distribution. The primary objective of the present study was to describe aspects of herd-level BoHV-1 and BVDV seroprevalence (based on testing of pooled sera) and control on farms in Northern Ireland, including vaccine usage.
An indirect antibody ELISA test (SVANOVA, Biotech AB, Uppsala, Sweden) was applied to serum pools which were constructed from serum samples taken for a cross-sectional study of a convenience sample of 500 Northern Irish dairy and beef cow herds in 2010, for which vaccination status was determined by telephone survey. The herd-level seroprevalence of BoHV-1 and BVDV in Northern Ireland was estimated in non-vaccinating herds and associations between possible risk factors (herd type and herd size (quartiles)) and herd-level prevalence were determined using chi-squared analysis.
The herd-level seroprevalence (of BoHV-1 and BVDV) in non-vaccinating herds was 77.3% (95% CI: 73.6–80.9%) and 98.4% (95% CI: 97.3–99.5%) respectively in the cross-sectional study. A significant difference existed in BoHV-1 herd-level seroprevalence between dairy and beef herds (74.7% vs 86.5% respectively; p < 0.02) though not for BVDV seroprevalence (98.5% vs 98.3% respectively; p > 0.91). A significant association was found between herd size (quartiles) and herd-level classification for BoHV-1 herd-level seroprevalence based on cut-off percentage positivity (COPP) (p < 0.01) while no such association was found for BVDV (p = 0.22).
15.5% and 23.8% of farmers used BoHV-1 and BVDV vaccines, respectively. BoHV-1 vaccine was used in 30% of dairy herds and in 11% of beef herds, while BVDV vaccine was used in 46% and 16% of dairy and beef herds, respectively.
The results from this study indicate that the true herd-level seroprevalences to bovine herpesvirus 1 and bovine virus diarrhoea virus in non-vaccinating herds in Northern Northern Ireland are 77.3% (95% CI: 73.6–80.9%) and 98.4% (95% CI: 97.3–99.5%), respectively. The present study will assist in guiding regional policy development and establish a baseline against which the progress of current and future control and eradication programmes can be measured.
PMCID: PMC4141657  PMID: 25152811
6.  Proteomic Analysis Reveals CACN-1 Is a Component of the Spliceosome in Caenorhabditis elegans 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2014;4(8):1555-1564.
Cell migration is essential for embryonic development and tissue formation in all animals. cacn-1 is a conserved gene of unknown molecular function identified in a genome-wide screen for genes that regulate distal tip cell migration in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. In this study we take a proteomics approach to understand CACN-1 function. To isolate CACN-1−interacting proteins, we used an in vivo tandem-affinity purification strategy. Tandem-affinity purification−tagged CACN-1 complexes were isolated from C. elegans lysate, analyzed by mass spectrometry, and characterized bioinformatically. Results suggest significant interaction of CACN-1 with the C. elegans spliceosome. All of the identified interactors were screened for distal tip cell migration phenotypes using RNAi. Depletion of many of these factors led to distal tip cell migration defects, particularly a failure to stop migrating, a phenotype commonly seen in cacn-1 deficient animals. The results of this screen identify eight novel regulators of cell migration and suggest CACN-1 may participate in a protein network dedicated to high-fidelity gonad development. The composition of proteins comprising the CACN-1 network suggests that this critical developmental module may exert its influence through alternative splicing or other post-transcriptional gene regulation.
PMCID: PMC4132184  PMID: 24948787
proteomics; cell migration; C. elegans; spliceosome
7.  Irish Veterinary Journal reviewer acknowledgement 2013 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2014;67(1):3.
Contributing reviewers
The Irish Veterinary Journal editorial team would like to thank the following colleagues who contributed to peer review for the journal in 2013.
PMCID: PMC3923565  PMID: 24524550
8.  The association between ANKH promoter polymorphism and chondrocalcinosis is independent of age and osteoarthritis: results of a case–control study 
Chondrocalcinosis (CC) most commonly results from calcium pyrophosphate crystal deposition (CPPD). The objective of this study is to examine the association between candidate single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and radiographic CC.
SNPs in ankylosis human (ANKH), high ferritin (HFE), tissue non-specific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP), ecto-neucleotide pyrophosphatase 1 (ENPP1), and transferrin (TE) genes were genotyped in participants of the Genetics of Osteoarthritis and Lifestyle (GOAL) and Nottingham Osteoarthritis Case-Control studies. Adjusted genotype odds ratio (aORGENOTYPE), the OR for association between one additional minor allele and CC, was calculated and adjusted for age, gender, body mass index (BMI), and osteoarthritis (OA) by using binary logistic regression. Statistical significance was set at P ≤0.003 after Bonferroni correction for multiple tests.
The -4bpG > A polymorphism in the 5′ untranslated region (5′ UTR) of ANKH associated with CC after Bonferroni correction. This was independent of age, gender, OA, and BMI; aORGENOTYPE (95% confidence interval, or CI) was 1.39 (1.14-1.69) (P = 0.001). rs3045 and rs875525, two other SNPs in ANKH, associated with CC; aORGENOTYPE (95% CI) values were 1.31 (1.09-1.58) (P = 0.005) and 1.18 (1.03-1.35) (P = 0.015), respectively; however, this was non-significant after Bonferroni correction.
This study validates the association between a functional polymorphism in the 5′ UTR of ANKH and CC and shows for the first time that this is independent of age and OA – the two key risk factors for CC. It shows that other SNPs in ANKH may also associate with CC. This supports the role of extracellular inorganic pyrophosphate in the pathogenesis of CC. The findings of this hospital-based study require replication in a community-based population.
PMCID: PMC3978851  PMID: 24467728
9.  Herd health status and management practices on 16 Irish suckler beef farms 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2013;66(1):21.
There have been few studies published internationally which document herd health management practices in suckler beef herds and no published Irish studies. The study objective was to document herd health status and management practices on sixteen Irish suckler beef herds over a two year period (2009–2010). The farms used in the study were part of the Teagasc BETTER farm beef programme. The mean (s.d.) herd size, stocking rate and farm size was 68 cows (27.6), 2.0 LU/ha (0.3) and 64.3 (21.6) adjusted hectares, respectively. Two questionnaires were designed; 1) a farmer questionnaire to collect information on farm background and current herd health control practices and 2) a veterinary questionnaire to collect information on the extent of animal health advice given by veterinarians to their clients and identification of any on-farm herd health issues.
Dystocia, calf pneumonia, and calf diarrhoea, in that order, were identified as the primary herd health issues in these Irish suckler beef herds. In addition, substantial deficiencies in biosecurity practices were also identified on these farms.
The findings of this study may serve as the focus for future research in animal health management practices in Irish suckler beef herds.
PMCID: PMC3903451  PMID: 24195997
Herd health; Beef suckler; Management practices
10.  Performance of Global Assessments of Hip, Knee, and Back Symptom Change 
Clinical rheumatology  2010;30(3):331-338.
To compare patients’ global assessments of change in knee, hip, and back symptoms with actual changes over time in pain, function, and radiographic severity.
Participants (n=894, 80% female, mean age=66 years) completed two assessments (mean of 4 years apart) as part of a study on the genetics of generalized osteoarthritis. At both assessments, participants completed the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities OA Index (WOMAC), and radiographic severity was assessed for knees, hips, and low back. At the second assessment, participants described changes in knee, hip, and low back symptoms as Worse, Better, Same, or Never Had Symptoms. Analysis of covariance models examined mean changes in WOMAC scores and radiographic severity according to categories of the global assessment measures. Statistical significance was examined for linear trend.
Mean WOMAC total, pain, and function scores decreased (indicating improvement) among participants who indicated joint symptoms were Better; showed little change among those who reported symptoms were the Same/Never Had Symptoms; and increased among those who reported symptoms were Worse. For all analyses except the comparison of WOMAC pain change according to global assessment of low back symptom change, there was a statistically significant linear trend (p<0.05). Patterns were similar for changes in radiographic severity, but the tests of linear trend were not statistically significant.
Results support the concordance of these global assessments of joint symptom change with actual changes in self-reported symptoms. These global assessments may be useful for assessing change over time when baseline data are unavailable.
PMCID: PMC3731381  PMID: 20683742
Osteoarthritis; Knee; Hip; Back; Pain; Function; Psychometrics
11.  Bulk milk ELISA and the diagnosis of parasite infections in dairy herds: a review 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2013;66(1):14.
The bulk milk enzyme-linked immune sorbent assay (ELISA) is a rapid and inexpensive method of assessing herd exposure to pathogens that is increasingly being used for the diagnosis of parasite infections in dairy herds. In this paper, with the dairy herd health veterinarian in mind, we review the principles of the assay and the recent literature on the potential role of bulk milk ELISA for the diagnosis of ostertagiosis, fasciolosis, parasitic bronchitis due to cattle lung worm and neosporosis. It is generally accepted that assay results reflect exposure to the parasite rather than the presence of active infection. Bulk milk ELISA can be a useful tool for the veterinary practitioner as a component of a herd health monitoring programme or in the context of a herd health investigation. It can also play a role in regional or national surveillance programmes. However, the results need to be interpreted within the context of the herd-specific health management, the milk production pattern and the parasite life cycle.
PMCID: PMC3733751  PMID: 23883526
Bulk milk ELISA; Dairy herds; Parasite infections; Ostertagia; Fasciola; Dictyocaulus; Neospora
12.  Individual patient data meta-analysis of trials investigating the effectiveness of intra-articular glucocorticoid injections in patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis: an OA Trial Bank protocol for a systematic review 
Systematic Reviews  2013;2:54.
Based on small to moderate effect sizes for the wide range of symptomatic treatments in osteoarthritis (OA), and on the heterogeneity of OA patients, treatment guidelines for OA have stressed the need for research on clinical predictors of response to different treatments. A meta-analysis to quantify the effect modified by the predictors using individual patient data (IPD) is suggested. The initiative to collect and analyze IPD in OA research is commenced by the OA Trial Bank. The study aims are therefore: to evaluate the efficacy of intra-articular glucocorticoids for knee or hip OA in specific subgroups of patients with severe pain and (mild) inflammatory signs, over both short-term and long-term follow-up, using IPD from existing studies; to reach consensus on the rules for cooperation in a consortium; and to develop and explore the methodological issues of meta-analysis with individual OA patient data.
For the current IPD analysis we will collect and synthesize IPD from randomized trials studying the effect of intra-articular glucocorticoid injections in patients with hip or knee OA. Subgroup analyses will be performed for the primary outcome of pain at both short-term and long-term follow-up, in the subgroups of patients with and without severe pain and with and without inflammatory signs.
This study protocol includes the first study of the OA Trial Bank, an international collaboration that initiates meta-analyses on predefined subgroups of OA patients from existing literature. This approach ensures a widely supported initiative and is therefore likely to be successful in data collection of existing trials. The collaboration developed (that is, the OA Trial Bank) may also lead to future IPD analyses on subgroups of patients with several intervention strategies applied in OA patients.
PMCID: PMC3707758  PMID: 23830482
Osteoarthritis; Individual patient data; Corticosteroid injection
13.  A Role for PACE4 in Osteoarthritis Pain: Evidence from Human Genetic Association and Null Mutant Phenotype 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;71(6):1042-1048.
To assess if genetic variation in the PACE4 gene, PCSK6, influences the risk for symptomatic knee OA.
Ten PCSK6 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were tested for association in a discovery cohort of radiographic knee OA (n= 156 asymptomatic and 600 symptomatic cases). Meta-analysis of the minor allele at rs900414 was performed in three additional independent cohorts (total n=674 asymptomatic and 2068 symptomatic). Pcsk6 knockout (KO) mice and wildtype C57BL/6 mice were compared in a battery of algesiometric assays, including hypersensitivity in response to intraplantar substance P; pain behaviours in response to intrathecal substance P; and pain behaviour in the abdominal constriction test.
In the discovery cohort of radiographic knee OA, an intronic SNP at rs900414 was significantly associated with symptomatic OA. Replication in three additional cohorts confirmed that the minor allele at rs900414 was consistently increased among asymptomatic compared to symptomatic radiographic knee OA cases in all four cohorts. A fixed-effects meta-analysis yielded an odds ratio =1.35 (95% CI 1.17, 1.56; p-value 4.3×10−5 and no significant between-study heterogeneity). Studies in mice revealed that Pcsk6 knockout (KO) mice were significantly protected against pain in a battery of algesiometric assays.
These results suggest that a variant in PCSK6 is strongly associated with protection against pain in knee OA, offering some insight as to why in the presence of the same structural damage, some individuals develop chronic pain and others are protected. Studies in Pcsk6 null mutant mice further implicate PACE4 in pain.
PMCID: PMC3603144  PMID: 22440827
Knee osteoarthritis; pain; PACE4; genetic association; SNP
14.  Absence of association of asporin polymorphisms and osteoarthritis susceptibility in US Caucasians 
An association between osteoarthritis (OA) and functional polymorphisms in the aspartic acid (D) repeat of the asporin (ASPN) gene was reported in Japanese and Han Chinese populations. The aim of this study was to assess the association of variants in the ASPN gene with the presence of radiographic hand and/or knee OA in a US Caucasian population.
Ten SNPs within the ASPN gene were genotyped in 775 affected siblings with radiographically confirmed hand or knee OA, and the allelic, genotypic and haplotypic association results were examined.
One variant (SNP RS7033979) showed nominal evidence of association with both hand OA (P=0.042) and knee OA (P=0.032). Four additional SNPs showed nominal evidence of association with knee OA only. These associations were only observed with genotypic tests; the corresponding allelic and haplotype tests did not corroborate the single-point association results.
These data suggest that polymorphisms within ASPN are not a major influence in susceptibility to hand or knee OA in US Caucasians.
PMCID: PMC3664276  PMID: 18434216
15.  Gene-environment interaction between body mass index and transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ1) gene in knee and hip osteoarthritis 
The objective was to investigate potential gene-environment interaction between body mass index (BMI) and each of eight TGFβ1 polymorphisms in knee and hip osteoarthritis (OA).
We conducted a case-control study of Caucasian men and women aged 45 to 86 years from Nottingham, United Kingdom (Genetics of OA and Lifestyle (GOAL) study). Cases had clinically severe symptoms and radiographic knee or hip OA; controls had no symptoms and no radiographic knee/hip OA. We used logistic regression to investigate the association of TGFβ1 polymorphisms and OA when stratifying by BMI. Knee and hip OA were analyzed separately with adjustment for potential confounders. Additive and multiplicative interactions were examined.
2,048 cases (1,042 knee OA, 1,006 hip OA) and 967 controls were studied. For hip OA, the highest risk was in overweight (BMI ≥25 kg/m2) individuals with the variant allele of single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1800468 (odds ratio (OR) 2.21, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.55, 3.15). Evaluation of gene-environment interaction indicated significant synergetic interaction (relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI) = 0.93, synergy index (SI) = 4.33) with an attributable proportion due to interaction (AP) of 42% (AP = 0.42; 95% CI 0.16, 0.68). Multiplicative interaction was also significant (OR for interaction (ORINT) = 2.27, P = 0.015). For knee OA, the highest risk was in overweight individuals with homozygous genotype 11 of SNP rs2278422 (OR = 6.95, P <0.001). In contrast, the variant allele indicated slightly lower risks (OR = 4.72, P <0.001), a significant antagonistic interaction (RERI = -2.66, SI = 0.59), AP = -0.56 (95%CI -0.94, -0.17) and a significant multiplicative interaction (ORINT = 0.47, P = 0.013).
TGFβ1 gene polymorphisms interact with being overweight to influence the risk of large joint OA.
PMCID: PMC4060375  PMID: 23597094
16.  Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies confirms a susceptibility locus for knee osteoarthritis on chromosome 7q22 
Evangelou, Evangelos | Valdes, Ana M. | Kerkhof, Hanneke J.M | Styrkarsdottir, Unnur | Zhu, YanYan | Meulenbelt, Ingrid | Lories, Rik J. | Karassa, Fotini B. | Tylzanowski, Przemko | Bos, Steffan D. | Akune, Toru | Arden, Nigel K. | Carr, Andrew | Chapman, Kay | Cupples, L. Adrienne | Dai, Jin | Deloukas, Panos | Doherty, Michael | Doherty, Sally | Engstrom, Gunnar | Gonzalez, Antonio | Halldorsson, Bjarni V. | Hammond, Christina L. | Hart, Deborah J. | Helgadottir, Hafdis | Hofman, Albert | Ikegawa, Shiro | Ingvarsson, Thorvaldur | Jiang, Qing | Jonsson, Helgi | Kaprio, Jaakko | Kawaguchi, Hiroshi | Kisand, Kalle | Kloppenburg, Margreet | Kujala, Urho M. | Lohmander, L. Stefan | Loughlin, John | Luyten, Frank P. | Mabuchi, Akihiko | McCaskie, Andrew | Nakajima, Masahiro | Nilsson, Peter M. | Nishida, Nao | Ollier, William E.R. | Panoutsopoulou, Kalliope | van de Putte, Tom | Ralston, Stuart H. | Rivadeneira, Fernado | Saarela, Janna | Schulte-Merker, Stefan | Slagboom, P. Eline | Sudo, Akihiro | Tamm, Agu | Tamm, Ann | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Tsezou, Aspasia | Wallis, Gillian A. | Wilkinson, J. Mark | Yoshimura, Noriko | Zeggini, Eleftheria | Zhai, Guangju | Zhang, Feng | Jonsdottir, Ingileif | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Felson, David T | van Meurs, Joyce B. | Stefansson, Kari | Ioannidis, John P.A. | Spector, Timothy D.
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2010;70(2):349-355.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most prevalent form of arthritis and accounts for substantial morbidity and disability, particularly in the elderly. It is characterized by changes in joint structure including degeneration of the articular cartilage and its etiology is multifactorial with a strong postulated genetic component. We performed a meta-analysis of four genome-wide association (GWA) studies of 2,371 knee OA cases and 35,909 controls in Caucasian populations. Replication of the top hits was attempted with data from additional ten replication datasets. With a cumulative sample size of 6,709 cases and 44,439 controls, we identified one genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 7q22 for knee OA (rs4730250, p-value=9.2×10−9), thereby confirming its role as a susceptibility locus for OA. The associated signal is located within a large (500kb) linkage disequilibrium (LD) block that contains six genes; PRKAR2B (protein kinase, cAMP-dependent, regulatory, type II, beta), HPB1 (HMG-box transcription factor 1), COG5 (component of oligomeric golgi complex 5), GPR22 (G protein-coupled receptor 22), DUS4L (dihydrouridine synthase 4-like), and BCAP29 (the B-cell receptor-associated protein 29). Gene expression analyses of the (six) genes in primary cells derived from different joint tissues confirmed expression of all the genes in the joint environment.
PMCID: PMC3615180  PMID: 21068099
17.  Will the EU Clinical Trials Regulation Support the Innovative Industry in Bringing New Medicines Faster to Patients? 
Pharmaceutical Medicine  2013;27(2):75-82.
A perspective from the innovative industry is provided in this article about the long awaited legal proposal for a Clinical Trial Regulation (“Proposal”), adopted in July 2012. With this Proposal, the European Commission reacted to a call by all stakeholders for more harmonization and streamlining of the provisions for conducting clinical trials in the EU. Discrepant approaches between Member States, a failure to respect legal timelines, and a lack of formal coordination mechanisms within and between Member States have resulted in an increased workload for the industry and contributed to a decline in Europe’s attractiveness as a place to carry out research and development. The Proposal introduces a concept whereby the sponsor makes a single submission of the clinical trial application dossier to an EU portal, which is followed by a single assessment based on cooperation between Member States. A possibility for the sponsor to choose a ‘reporting Member State’ to take the lead on key aspects of the assessment is expected to support excellence building and work sharing of Competent Authorities in the EU. The Proposal respects the fact that certain aspects need to be reviewed nationally. The new process aims to lead to a single decision per clinical trial per concerned Member State. The rules are built on the principle of strict adherence to timelines for authorization. The timelines are ambitious but at the same time competitive, as the process builds in mechanisms that strengthen compliance. The rules have been designed to encourage sponsors to file complete submission packages, since any substantial modification to a trial would lead to delays in its commencement. Sponsors need to streamline their internal processes accordingly. In the end, streamlining is an effort that needs to be accepted by all parties involved. The Proposal does not detail how Member States organize the involvement of different bodies, such as Competent Authorities and Ethics Committees, because according to the EU Treaty, the EU cannot legislate on aspects falling into pure Member State competence. The Proposal, however, establishes the assessment objectives on the basis of Good Clinical Practices set by the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH) and the Declaration of Helsinki by the World Medical Association. As such, the new legislation is likely to have implications on Member States’ internal organization. In addition, Ethics Committees in Europe would benefit from an EU platform for best practice exchange—a concept that would need to be requested by the Council and the European Parliament through the legislative process. A single decision system for the entire EU per clinical trial has been discussed as an option, but such an approach was difficult to achieve while respecting national competencies. In this situation, the Proposal represents an acceptable compromise, provided its proposed mechanisms, processes, and timelines are retained upon implementation. As the Proposal is now on the table for discussion by the 27 Member States’ governments and by the European Parliament, co-legislators and stakeholders should be aware that any dilution of these provisions would be detrimental to the objective to ensure patient access and make the conditions for clinical research in Europe attractive and fit for the future.
PMCID: PMC3622747  PMID: 23585715
18.  Hydroxychloroquine effectiveness in reducing symptoms of hand osteoarthritis (HERO): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:64.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, causing significant joint pain and disability. It is already a major cause of healthcare expenditure and its incidence will further increase with the ageing population. Current treatments for OA have major limitations and new analgesic treatments are needed. Synovitis is prevalent in OA and is associated with pain. Hydroxychloroquine is used in routine practice for treating synovitis in inflammatory arthritides, such as rheumatoid arthritis. We propose that treating patients with symptomatic hand OA with hydroxychloroquine will be a practical and safe treatment to reduce synovitis and pain.
HERO is an investigator-initiated, multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. A total of 252 subjects with symptomatic hand OA will be recruited across primary and secondary care sites in the UK and randomized on a 1:1 basis to active treatment or placebo for 12 months. Daily medication dose will range from 200 to 400 mg according to ideal body weight. The primary endpoint is change in average hand pain during the previous two weeks (measured on a numerical rating scale (NRS)) between baseline and six months. Secondary endpoints include other self-reported pain, function and quality-of-life measures and radiographic structural change at 12 months. A health economics analysis will also be performed. An ultrasound substudy will be conducted to examine baseline levels of synovitis. Linear and logistic regression will be used to compare changes between groups using univariable and multivariable modelling analyses. All analyses will be conducted on an intention-to-treat basis.
The HERO trial is designed to examine whether hydroxychloroquine is an effective analgesic treatment for OA and whether it provides any long-term structural benefit. The ultrasound substudy will address whether baseline synovitis is a predictor of therapeutic response. This will potentially provide a new treatment for OA, which could be of particular use in the primary care setting.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3716636  PMID: 23452375
Double-blind; Hand osteoarthritis; Hydroxychloroquine; Placebo-controlled; Randomized
19.  Chondrocalcinosis is common in the absence of knee involvement 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(5):R205.
We aimed to describe the distribution of radiographic chondrocalcinosis (CC) and to examine whether metacarpophalangeal joint (MCPJ) calcification and CC at other joints occurs in the absence of knee involvement.
This was a cross-sectional study embedded in the Genetics of Osteoarthritis and Lifestyle study (GOAL). All participants (n = 3,170) had radiographs of the knees, hands, and pelvis. These were scored for radiographic changes of osteoarthritis (OA), for CC at knees, hips, symphysis pubis, and wrists, and for MCPJ calcification. The prevalence of MCPJ calcification and CC overall, at each joint, and in the presence or absence of knee involvement, was calculated.
The knee was the commonest site of CC, followed by wrists, hips, and symphysis pubis. CC was more likely to be bilateral at knees and wrists but unilateral at hips. MCPJ calcification was usually bilateral, and less common than CC at knees, hips, wrists, and symphysis pubis. Unlike that previously reported, CC commonly occurred without any knee involvement; 44.4% of wrist CC, 45.9% of hip CC, 45.5% of symphysis pubis CC, and 31.3% of MCPJ calcification occurred in patients without knee CC. Those with meniscal or hyaline articular cartilage CC had comparable ages (P = 0.21), and neither preferentially associated with fibrocartilage CC at distant joints.
CC visualized on a plain radiograph commonly occurs at other joints in the absence of radiographic knee CC. Therefore, knee radiographs alone are an insufficient screening test for CC. This has significant implications for clinical practice, for epidemiologic and genetic studies of CC, and for the definition of OA patients with coexistent crystal deposition.
PMCID: PMC3580517  PMID: 23036436
20.  Morphological Differences between Chinese and Caucasian Female Hips: Could they account for the ethnic difference in hip osteoarthritis? 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(10):2992-2999.
Hip osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disabling disease, which has a much higher prevalence in Caucasians than Asians. The reasons for this ethnic difference in prevalence are unknown. Hip OA often is thought to be secondary to morphologic abnormalities. If particular abnormalities predisposing to hip OA occur more frequently in Caucasians, these differences in hip shape could account for prevalence differences.
A morphometric study was performed using 400 non-osteoarthritic hips of 200 women participants from 2 studies: the Beijing OA study and the SOF study from the U.S. We focused on measures of hip dysplasia and impingement (Lateral Center Edge Angle, Impingement Angle, Acetabular Slope, Femoral Head Neck Ratio and the Cross Over Sign) and compared data from Chinese and Caucasian hips.
Compared with their Chinese counterparts, Caucasian women had a lower mean impingement angle (83.6° vs. 87.0°’ p=.03) and were more likely to have center edge angles suggestive of impingement (for center edge angle >35°, 11% of Chinese vs. 23% of Caucasian hips, p = .008). On the other hand, low center edge angles suggesting dysplasia were found more often in Chinese women (for <20°, 22% of Chinese vs. 7% of Caucasian hips, p = .005).
In a study of elderly women without signs of OA, the morphometry of impingement and asphericity were more common in Caucasian than Chinese hips. Our findings suggest that Caucasians may be at higher risk of hip OA than Chinese because of morphologic findings that predispose them to femoro-acetabular impingement.
PMCID: PMC3178680  PMID: 21647861
21.  Bovine viral diarrhoea virus seroprevalence and vaccination usage in dairy and beef herds in the Republic of Ireland 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2012;65(1):16.
Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) is an infectious disease of cattle with a worldwide distribution. Herd-level prevalence varies among European Union (EU) member states, and prevalence information facilitates decision-making and monitoring of progress in control and eradication programmes. The primary objective of the present study was to address significant knowledge gaps regarding herd BVD seroprevalence (based on pooled sera) and control on Irish farms, including vaccine usage.
Preliminary validation of an indirect BVD antibody ELISA test (Svanova, Biotech AB, Uppsala, Sweden) using pooled sera was a novel and important aspect of the present study. Serum pools were constructed from serum samples of known seropositivity and pools were analysed using the same test in laboratory replicates. The output from this indirect ELISA was expressed as a percentage positivity (PP) value. Results were used to guide selection of a proposed cut-off (PCO) PP. This indirect ELISA was applied to randomly constructed within-herd serum pools, in a cross-sectional study of a stratified random sample of 1,171 Irish dairy and beef cow herds in 2009, for which vaccination status was determined by telephone survey. The herd-level prevalence of BVD in Ireland (percentage positive herds) was estimated in non-vaccinating herds, where herds were classified positive when herd pool result exceeded PCO PP. Vaccinated herds were excluded because of the potential impact of vaccination on herd classification status. Comparison of herd-level classification was conducted in a subset of 111 non-vaccinating dairy herds using the same ELISA on bulk milk tank (BMT) samples. Associations between possible risk factors (herd size (quartiles)) and herd-level prevalence were determined using chi-squared analysis.
Receiver Operating Characteristics Analysis of replicate results in the preliminary validation study yielded an optimal cut-off PP (Proposed Cut-off percentage positivity - PCO PP) of 7.58%. This PCO PP gave a relative sensitivity (Se) and specificity (Sp) of 98.57% and 100% respectively, relative to the use of the ELISA on individual sera, and was chosen as the optimal cut-off since it resulted in maximization of the prevalence independent Youden’s Index.
The herd-level BVD prevalence in non-vaccinating herds was 98.7% (95% CI - 98.3-99.5%) in the cross-sectional study with no significant difference between dairy and beef herds (98.3% vs 98.8%, respectively, p = 0.595).
An agreement of 95.4% was found on Kappa analysis of herd serological classification when bulk milk and serum pool results were compared in non-vaccinating herds. 19.2 percent of farmers used BVDV vaccine; 81% of vaccinated herds were dairy. A significant association was found between seroprevalence (quartiles) and herd size (quartiles) (p < 0.01), though no association was found between herd size (quartiles) and herd-level classification based on PCO (p = 0.548).
The results from this study indicate that the true herd-level seroprevalence to Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD) virus in Ireland is approaching 100%. The results of the present study will assist with national policy development, particularly with respect to the national BVD eradication programme which commenced recently.
PMCID: PMC3443026  PMID: 22849554
22.  A Genome-Wide Association Study identifies a locus on chromosome 7q22 to influence susceptibility for osteoarthritis 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2010;62(2):499-510.
To identify genes involved in osteoarthritis (OA), the most prevalent form of joint disease, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in which we tested 500,510 Single Nucelotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in 1341 OA cases and 3496 Dutch Caucasian controls. SNPs associated with at least two OA-phenotypes were analysed in 14,938 OA cases and approximately 39,000 controls. The C-allele of rs3815148 on chromosome 7q22 (MAF 23%, 172 kb upstream of the GPR22 gene) was consistently associated with a 1.14-fold increased risk (95%CI: 1.09–1.19) for knee- and/or hand-OA (p=8×10−8), and also with a 30% increased risk for knee-OA progression (95%CI: 1.03–1.64, p=0.03). This SNP is in almost complete linkage disequilibrium with rs3757713 (located 68 kb upstream of GPR22) which is associated with GPR22 expression levels in lymphoblast cell lines (p=4×10−12). GPR22 encodes an G-protein coupled receptor with unkown ligand (orphan receptor). Immunohistochemistry experiments showed absence of GPR22 in normal mouse articular cartilage or synovium. However, GPR22 positive chondrocytes were found in the upper layers of the articular cartilage of mouse knee joints that were challenged by in vivo papain treatment or in the presence of interleukin-1 driven inflammation. GRP22 positive chondrocyte-like cells were also found in osteophytes in instability-induced OA. In addition, GPR22 is also present in areas of the brain involved in locomotor function. Our findings reveal a novel common variant on chromosome 7q22 to influence susceptibility for prevalence and progression of OA.
PMCID: PMC3354739  PMID: 20112360
23.  Seroprevalence of Leptospira Hardjo in the Irish suckler cattle population 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2012;65(1):8.
Prior to the present study, the seroprevalence of leptospirosis in Irish suckler herds was unknown. In this study, we describe the herd and animal-level prevalence of Leptospira Hardjo infection in the Irish suckler cattle population. For the purposes of the study, the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland were divided into 6 regions from which a representative number of herds were selected. A herd was considered eligible for sampling if it was not vaccinating against leptospirosis and if it contained ≥ 9 breeding animals of beef breed ≥ 12 months of age. In total, 288 randomly selected herds were eligible for inclusion in the seroprevalence dataset analysis. Serological testing was carried out using a commercially available monoclonal antibody-capture ELISA, (sensitivity 100%; specificity 86.67%).
Herds were categorised as either “Free from Infection” or “Infected” using the epidemiological software tool, FreeCalc 2.0. Using this classification, 237 herds were “Infected” (82.29%). The South West and South East regions had the highest herd prevalence. The regional effect on herd prevalence was largely mirrored by breeding herd size. A true animal-level prevalence of 41.75% was calculated using the epidemiological software tool, TruePrev. There was a statistically significant regional trend, with true prevalence being highest in the South East (P < 0.05). The median Breeding Herd Size (BHS), when categorised into quartiles, had a statistically significant influence on individual animal true seroprevalence (P < 0.001); true seroprevalence increased with increasing BHS.
Leptospirosis is a widespread endemic disease in the Republic of Ireland. It is possible that economic losses due to leptospirosis in unvaccinated Irish suckler herds may be underestimated.
PMCID: PMC3464776  PMID: 22546216
Leptospirosis; Hardjo; Suckler; Ireland; Seroprevalence; ELISA; Herd size; Region; FreeCalc; Endemic
24.  Herd-level risk factors associated with Leptospira Hardjo seroprevalence in Beef/Suckler herds in the Republic of Ireland 
Irish Veterinary Journal  2012;65(1):6.
The aim of the present study was to investigate risk factors for herd seropositivity to Leptospira Hardjo in Irish suckler herds. Herds were considered eligible for the study if they were unvaccinated and contained ≥ 9 breeding animals of beef breed which were ≥ 12 months of age. The country was divided into six regions using county boundaries. Herd and individual animal prevalence data were available from the results of a concurrent seroprevalence study. Herds were classified as either "Free from Infection" or "Infected" based on a minimum expected 40% within-herd prevalence.
Questionnaires were posted to 320 farmers chosen randomly from 6 regions, encompassing 25 counties, of the Republic of Ireland. The questionnaire was designed to obtain information about vaccination; reproductive disease; breeding herd details; the presence of recognized risk factors from previous studies; and husbandry on each farm. Data collected from 128 eligible herds were subjected to statistical analysis.
Following the use of Pearson's Chi-Square Test, those variables associated with a herd being "infected" with a significance level of P < 0.2 were considered as candidates for multivariable logistic regression modelling. Breeding herd size was found to be a statistically significant risk factor after multivariable logistic regression. The odds of a herd being positive for leptospiral infection were 5.47 times higher (P = 0.032) in herds with 14 to 23 breeding animals compared with herds with ≤ 13 breeding animals, adjusting for Region, and 7.08 times higher (P = 0.033) in herds with 32.6 to 142 breeding animals.
Breeding herd size was identified as a significant risk factor for leptospiral infection in Irish suckler herds, which was similar to findings of previous studies of leptospirosis in dairy herds.
PMCID: PMC3342215  PMID: 22449264
Leptospirosis; Hardjo; Suckler; Ireland; Risk factors; Questionnaire; Herd size; Region
25.  Recommendations for standardization and phenotype definitions in genetic studies of osteoarthritis: the TREAT-OA consortium 
To address the need for standardization of osteoarthritis (OA) phenotypes by examining the effect of heterogeneity among symptomatic (SOA) and radiographic osteoarthritis (ROA) phenotypes.
Descriptions of OA phenotypes of the 28 studies involved in the TREAT-OA consortium were collected. To investigate whether different OA definitions result in different association results, we created hip OA definitions used within the consortium in the Rotterdam Study-I and tested the association of hip OA with gender, age and BMI using one-way ANOVA. For radiographic OA, we standardized the hip, knee and hand ROA definitions and calculated prevalence's of ROA before and after standardization in 9 cohort studies. This procedure could only be performed in cohort studies and standardization of SOA definitions was not feasible at this moment.
In this consortium, all studies with symptomatic OA phenotypes (knee, hip and hand) used a different definition and/or assessment of OA status. For knee, hip and hand radiographic OA 5, 4 and 7 different definitions were used, respectively. Different hip OA definitions do lead to different association results. For example, we showed in the Rotterdam Study-I that hip OA defined as “at least definite JSN and one definite osteophyte” was not associated with gender (p=0.22), but defined as “at least one definite osteophyte” was significantly associated with gender (p=3×10−9). Therefore, a standardization process was undertaken for radiographic OA definitions. Before standardization a wide range of ROA prevalence's was observed in the 9 cohorts studied. After standardization the range in prevalence of knee and hip ROA was small. Standardization of SOA phenotypes was not possible due to the case-control design of the studies.
Phenotype definitions influence the prevalence of OA and association with clinical variables. ROA phenotypes within the TREAT-OA consortium were standardized to reduce heterogeneity and improve power in future genetics studies.
PMCID: PMC3236091  PMID: 21059398

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