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1.  Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:952159.
doi:10.1155/2014/952159
PMCID: PMC4138892  PMID: 25162038
2.  Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 2014 
Autoimmune Diseases  2014;2014:274323.
doi:10.1155/2014/274323
PMCID: PMC3982263  PMID: 24782920
3.  Rheumatoid Arthritis in Minorities 
Arthritis  2013;2013:256493.
doi:10.1155/2013/256493
PMCID: PMC3666299  PMID: 23762553
5.  GDF15(MIC1) H6D Polymorphism Does Not Influence Cardiovascular Disease in a Latin American Population with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Journal of Immunology Research  2015;2015:270763.
Objective. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common autoimmune arthropathy worldwide. The increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in RA is not fully explained by classic risk factors. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of rs1058587 SNP within GDF15(MIC1) gene on the risk of CVD in a Colombian RA population. Methods. This was a cross-sectional analytical study in which 310 consecutive Colombian patients with RA and 228 age- and sex-matched controls were included and assessed for variables associated with CVD. The mixed cluster methodology based on multivariate descriptive methods such as principal components analysis and multiple correspondence analyses and regression tree (CART) predictive model were performed. Results. Of the 310 patients, 87.4% were women and CVD was reported in 69.5%. Significant differences concerning GDF15 polymorphism were not observed between patients and controls. Mean arterial pressure, current smoking, and some clusters were significantly associated with CVD. Conclusion. GDF15 (rs1058587) does not influence the development of CVD in the population studied.
doi:10.1155/2015/270763
PMCID: PMC4451155  PMID: 26090487
6.  Shared HLA Class II in Six Autoimmune Diseases in Latin America: A Meta-Analysis 
Autoimmune Diseases  2012;2012:569728.
The prevalence and genetic susceptibility of autoimmune diseases (ADs) may vary depending on latitudinal gradient and ethnicity. The aims of this study were to identify common human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II alleles that contribute to susceptibility to six ADs in Latin Americans through a meta-analysis and to review additional clinical, immunological, and genetic characteristics of those ADs sharing HLA alleles. DRB1∗03:01 (OR: 4.04; 95%CI: 1.41–11.53) was found to be a risk factor for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjögren's syndrome (SS), and type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D). DRB1∗04:05 (OR: 4.64; 95%CI: 2.14–10.05) influences autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and T1D; DRB1∗04:01 (OR: 3.86; 95%CI: 2.32–6.42) is a susceptibility factor for RA and T1D. Opposite associations were found between multiple sclerosis (MS) and T1D. DQB1∗06:02 and DRB1∗15 alleles were risk factors for MS but protective factors for T1D. Likewise, DQB1∗06:03 allele was a risk factor for AIH but a protective one for T1D. Several common autoantibodies and clinical associations as well as additional shared genes have been reported in these ADs, which are reviewed herein. These results indicate that in Latin Americans ADs share major loci and immune characteristics.
doi:10.1155/2012/569728
PMCID: PMC3345213  PMID: 22577522
7.  Spondyloarthropathies in Autoimmune Diseases and Vice Versa 
Autoimmune Diseases  2012;2012:736384.
Polyautoimmunity is one of the major clinical characteristics of autoimmune diseases (ADs). The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of ADs in spondyloarthropathies (SpAs) and vice versa. This was a two-phase cross-sectional study. First, we examined the presence of ADs in a cohort of patients with SpAs (N = 148). Second, we searched for the presence of SpAs in a well-defined group of patients with ADs (N = 1077) including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and Sjögren's syndrome (SS). Among patients with SpAs, ankylosing spondylitis was observed in the majority of them (55.6%). There were two patients presenting with SS in the SpA group (1.4%) and 5 patients with autoimmune thyroiditis (3.5%). The global prevalence of ADs in SpAs was 4.86%. In the ADs group, there were 5 patients with SpAs (0.46%). Our results suggest a lack of association between SpAs and ADs. Accordingly, SpAs might correspond more to autoinflammatory diseases rather than to ADs.
doi:10.1155/2012/736384
PMCID: PMC3286883  PMID: 22400103
8.  Confirmation of an Association Between rs6822844 at the IL2–IL21 Region and Multiple Autoimmune Diseases 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(2):323-329.
Objective
Autoimmune diseases often have susceptibility genes in common, indicating similar molecular mechanisms. Increasing evidence suggests that rs6822844 at the IL2–IL21 region is strongly associated with multiple autoimmune diseases in individuals of European descent. This study was undertaken to attempt to replicate the association between rs6822844 and 6 different immune-mediated diseases in non-European populations, and to perform disease-specific and overall meta-analyses using data from previously published studies.
Methods
We evaluated case–control associations between rs6822844 and celiac disease (CD) in subjects from Argentina; rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM), primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in subjects from Colombia; and Behçet's disease (BD) in subjects from Turkey. Allele and gene distributions were compared between cases and controls. Meta-analyses were performed using data from the present study and previous studies.
Results
We detected significant associations of rs6822844 with SLE (P = 0.008), type 1 DM (P = 0.014), RA (P = 0.019), and primary SS (P = 0.033) but not with BD (P = 0.34) or CD (P = 0.98). We identified little evidence of population differentiation (FST = 0.01) within cases and controls from Argentina and Colombia, suggesting that association was not influenced by population substructure. Disease-specific meta-analysis indicated significant association for RA (Pmeta = 3.61 × 10–6), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) (Pmeta = 3.48 × 10–12), type 1 DM (Pmeta = 5.33 × 10–5), and CD (Pmeta = 5.30 × 10–3). Overall meta-analysis across all autoimmune diseases reinforced association with rs6822844 (23 data sets; Pmeta = 2.61 × 10–25, odds ratio 0.73 [95% confidence interval 0.69–0.78]).
Conclusion
Our results indicate that there is an association between rs6822844 and multiple auto-immune diseases in non-European populations. Meta-analysis results strongly reinforce this robust association across multiple autoimmune diseases in both European-derived and non-European populations.
doi:10.1002/art.27222
PMCID: PMC3028384  PMID: 20112382
9.  Genetics and Vaccines in the Era of Personalized Medicine 
Current Genomics  2015;16(1):47-59.
Vaccines represent the most successful and sustainable tactic to prevent and counteract infection. A vaccine generally improves immunity to a particular disease upon administration by inducing specific protective and efficient immune responses in all of the receiving population. The main known factors influencing the observed heterogeneity for immune re-sponses induced by vaccines are gender, age, co-morbidity, immune system, and genetic background. This review is mainly focused on the genetic status effect to vaccine immune responses and how this could contribute to the development of novel vaccine candidates that could be better directed and predicted relative to the genetic history of an individual and/or population. The text offers a brief history of vaccinology as a field, a description of the genetic status of the most relevant and studied genes and their functionality and correlation with exposure to specific vaccines; followed by an inside look into autoimmunity as a concern when designing vaccines as well as perspectives and conclusions looking towards an era of personalized and predictive vaccinology instead of a one size fits all approach.
doi:10.2174/1389202916666141223220551
PMCID: PMC4412964  PMID: 25937813
Vaccine; Personalized medicine; Genetics; HLA; Autoimmune ecology; Infection; Autoimmunity and systems biology
10.  Novel and rare functional genomic variants in multiple autoimmune syndrome and Sjögren’s syndrome 
Background
Multiple autoimmune syndrome (MAS), an extreme phenotype of autoimmune disorders, is a very well suited trait to tackle genomic variants of these conditions. Whole exome sequencing (WES) is a widely used strategy for detection of protein coding and splicing variants associated with inherited diseases.
Methods
The DNA of eight patients affected by MAS [all of whom presenting with Sjögren’s syndrome (SS)], four patients affected by SS alone and 38 unaffected individuals, were subject to WES. Filters to identify novel and rare functional (pathogenic–deleterious) homozygous and/or compound heterozygous variants in these patients and controls were applied. Bioinformatics tools such as the Human gene connectome as well as pathway and network analysis were applied to test overrepresentation of genes harbouring these variants in critical pathways and networks involved in autoimmunity.
Results
Eleven novel and rare functional variants were identified in cases but not in controls, harboured in: MACF1, KIAA0754, DUSP12, ICA1, CELA1, LRP1/STAT6, GRIN3B, ANKLE1, TMEM161A, and FKRP. These were subsequently subject to network analysis and their functional relatedness to genes already associated with autoimmunity was evaluated. Notably, the LRP1/STAT6 novel mutation was homozygous in one MAS affected patient and heterozygous in another. LRP1/STAT6 disclosed the strongest plausibility for autoimmunity. LRP1/STAT6 are involved in extracellular and intracellular anti-inflammatory pathways that play key roles in maintaining the homeostasis of the immune system. Further; networks, pathways, and interaction analyses showed that LRP1 is functionally related to the HLA-B and IL10 genes and it has a substantial impact within immunological pathways and/or reaction to bacterial and other foreign proteins (phagocytosis, regulation of phospholipase A2 activity, negative regulation of apoptosis and response to lipopolysaccharides). Further, ICA1 and STAT6 were also closely related to AIRE and IRF5, two very well known autoimmunity genes.
Conclusions
Novel and rare exonic mutations that may account for autoimmunity were identified. Among those, the LRP1/STAT6 novel mutation has the strongest case for being categorised as potentially causative of MAS given the presence of intriguing patterns of functional interaction with other major genes shaping autoimmunity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12967-015-0525-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12967-015-0525-x
PMCID: PMC4450850  PMID: 26031516
Autoimmune diseases; Polyautoimmunity; Multiple autoimmune syndrome; Sjögren’s syndrome; Genetics; Whole exome sequencing; Extreme phenotypes
11.  Prevalence of Celiac Disease in Latin America: A Systematic Review and Meta-Regression 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0124040.
Background
Celiac disease (CD) is an immune-mediated enteropathy triggered by the ingestion of gluten in susceptible individuals, and its prevalence varies depending on the studied population. Given that information on CD in Latin America is scarce, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of CD in this region of the world through a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Methods and Findings
This was a two-phase study. First, a cross-sectional analysis from 981 individuals of the Colombian population was made. Second, a systematic review and meta-regression analysis were performed following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Meta- Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Our results disclosed a lack of celiac autoimmunity in the studied Colombian population (i.e., anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG) and IgA anti-endomysium (EMA)). In the systematic review, 72 studies were considered. The estimated prevalence of CD in Latin Americans ranged between 0.46% and 0.64%. The prevalence of CD in first-degree relatives of CD probands was 5.5%. The coexistence of CD and type 1 diabetes mellitus varied from 4.6% to 8.7%, depending on the diagnosis methods (i.e., autoantibodies and/or biopsies).
Conclusions
Although CD seems to be a rare condition in Colombians; the general prevalence of the disease in Latin Americans seemingly corresponds to a similar scenario observed in Europeans.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124040
PMCID: PMC4420463  PMID: 25942408
12.  Lupus risk variants in the PXK locus alter B-cell receptor internalization 
Frontiers in Genetics  2015;5:450.
Genome wide association studies have identified variants in PXK that confer risk for humoral autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), rheumatoid arthritis and more recently systemic sclerosis. While PXK is involved in trafficking of epidermal growth factor Receptor (EGFR) in COS-7 cells, mechanisms linking PXK to lupus pathophysiology have remained undefined. In an effort to uncover the mechanism at this locus that increases lupus-risk, we undertook a fine-mapping analysis in a large multi-ancestral study of lupus patients and controls. We define a large (257kb) common haplotype marking a single causal variant that confers lupus risk detected only in European ancestral populations and spans the promoter through the 3′ UTR of PXK. The strongest association was found at rs6445972 with P < 4.62 × 10−10, OR 0.81 (0.75–0.86). Using stepwise logistic regression analysis, we demonstrate that one signal drives the genetic association in the region. Bayesian analysis confirms our results, identifying a 95% credible set consisting of 172 variants spanning 202 kb. Functionally, we found that PXK operates on the B-cell antigen receptor (BCR); we confirmed that PXK influenced the rate of BCR internalization. Furthermore, we demonstrate that individuals carrying the risk haplotype exhibited a decreased rate of BCR internalization, a process known to impact B cell survival and cell fate. Taken together, these data define a new candidate mechanism for the genetic association of variants around PXK with lupus risk and highlight the regulation of intracellular trafficking as a genetically regulated pathway mediating human autoimmunity.
doi:10.3389/fgene.2014.00450
PMCID: PMC4288052  PMID: 25620976
lupus; PXK; fine-mapping; B cells; BCR
13.  The Coexistence of Antiphospholipid Syndrome and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Colombians 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110242.
Objectives
To examine the prevalence and associated factors related to the coexistence of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in a cohort of Colombian patients with SLE, and to discuss the coexistence of APS with other autoimmune diseases (ADs).
Method
A total of 376 patients with SLE were assessed for the presence of the following: 1) confirmed APS; 2) positivity for antiphospholipid (aPL) antibodies without a prior thromboembolic nor obstetric event; and 3) SLE patients without APS nor positivity for aPL antibodies. Comparisons between groups 1 and 3 were evaluated by bivariate and multivariate analysis.
Results
Although the prevalence of aPL antibodies was 54%, APS was present in just 9.3% of SLE patients. In our series, besides cardiovascular disease (AOR 3.38, 95% CI 1.11–10.96, p = 0.035), pulmonary involvement (AOR 5.06, 95% CI 1.56–16.74, p = 0.007) and positivity for rheumatoid factor (AOR 4.68, 95%IC 1.63–14.98, p = 0.006) were factors significantly associated with APS-SLE. APS also may coexist with rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren's syndrome, autoimmune thyroid diseases, systemic sclerosis, systemic vasculitis, dermatopolymyositis, primary biliary cirrhosis and autoimmune hepatitis.
Conclusions
APS is a systemic AD that may coexist with other ADs, the most common being SLE. Awareness of this polyautoimmunity should be addressed promptly to establish strategies for controlling modifiable risk factors in those patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110242
PMCID: PMC4208791  PMID: 25343509
14.  Variants at multiple loci implicated in both innate and adaptive immune responses are associated with Sjögren’s syndrome 
Nature genetics  2013;45(11):10.1038/ng.2792.
Sjögren’s syndrome is a common autoimmune disease (~0.7% of European Americans) typically presenting as keratoconjunctivitis sicca and xerostomia. In addition to strong association within the HLA region at 6p21 (Pmeta=7.65×10−114), we establish associations with IRF5-TNPO3 (Pmeta=2.73×10−19), STAT4 (Pmeta=6.80×10−15), IL12A (Pmeta =1.17×10−10), FAM167A-BLK (Pmeta=4.97×10−10), DDX6-CXCR5 (Pmeta=1.10×10−8), and TNIP1 (Pmeta=3.30×10−8). Suggestive associations with Pmeta<5×10−5 were observed with 29 regions including TNFAIP3, PTTG1, PRDM1, DGKQ, FCGR2A, IRAK1BP1, ITSN2, and PHIP amongst others. These results highlight the importance of genes involved in both innate and adaptive immunity in Sjögren’s syndrome.
doi:10.1038/ng.2792
PMCID: PMC3867192  PMID: 24097067
15.  Comparison of the American-European Consensus Group Sjögren's syndrome classification criteria to newly proposed American College of Rheumatology criteria in a large, carefully characterized sicca cohort 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;73(1):10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203845.
Objective
To compare the performance of the American-European Consensus Group (AECG) and the newly proposed American College of Rheumatology (ACR) classification criteria for Sjögren's syndrome in a well-characterized sicca cohort, given ongoing efforts to resolve discrepancies and weaknesses in the systems.
Methods
In a multidisciplinary clinic for the evaluation of sicca, we assessed features of salivary and lacrimal gland dysfunction and autoimmunity as defined by tests of both AECG and ACR criteria in 646 participants. Global gene expression profiles were compared in a subset of 180 participants.
Results
Application of the AECG and ACR criteria resulted in classification of 279 and 268 participants with SS, respectively. Both criteria were met by 244 participants (81%). In 26 of the 35 AECG+/ACR- participants, the minor salivary gland biopsy focal score was ≥1 (74%), while 9 had positive anti-Ro/La (26%). There were 24 AECG-/ACR+ who met ACR criteria mainly due to differences in the scoring of corneal staining. All patients with SS, regardless of classification, had similar gene expression profiles, which were distinct from the healthy controls.
Conclusion
The two sets of classification criteria yield concordant results in the majority of cases and gene expression profiling suggests that patients meeting either set of criteria are more similar to other SS participants than to healthy controls. Thus, there is no clear evidence for increased value of the new ACR criteria over the old AECG criteria from the clinical or biological perspective. It is our contention, supported by this report, that improvements in diagnostic acumen will require a more fundamental understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms than is at present available.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203845
PMCID: PMC3855629  PMID: 23968620
Sjögren's syndrome; Classification; Diagnosis
16.  Cardiovascular Disease in Latin American Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Cross-Sectional Study and a Systematic Review 
Autoimmune Diseases  2013;2013:794383.
Objective. This study was performed to determine the prevalence of and associated risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Latin American (LA) patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Methods. First, a cross-sectional analytical study was conducted in 310 Colombian patients with SLE in whom CVD was assessed. Associated factors were examined by multivariate regression analyses. Second, a systematic review of the literature on CVD in SLE in LA was performed. Results. There were 133 (36.5%) Colombian SLE patients with CVD. Dyslipidemia, smoking, coffee consumption, and pleural effusion were positively associated with CVD. An independent effect of coffee consumption and cigarette on CVD was found regardless of gender and duration of disease. In the systematic review, 60 articles fulfilling the eligibility criteria were included. A wide range of CVD prevalence was found (4%–79.5%). Several studies reported ancestry, genetic factors, and polyautoimmunity as novel risk factors for such a condition. Conclusions. A high rate of CVD is observed in LA patients with SLE. Awareness of the observed risk factors should encourage preventive population strategies for CVD in patients with SLE aimed at facilitating the suppression of cigarette smoking and coffee consumption as well as at the tight control of dyslipidemia and other modifiable risk factors.
doi:10.1155/2013/794383
PMCID: PMC3835818  PMID: 24294522
17.  Two Independent Functional Risk Haplotypes in TNIP1 are Associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3695-3705.
Objective
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production and altered type I interferon expression. Genetic surveys and genome-wide association studies have identified more than 30 SLE susceptibility genes. One of these genes, TNIP1, encodes the ABIN1 protein. ABIN1 functions in the immune system by restricting the NF-κB signaling. In order to better understand the genetic factors that influence association with SLE in genes that regulate the NF-κB pathway, we analyzed a dense set of genetic markers spanning TNIP1 and TAX1BP1, as well as the TNIP1 homolog, TNIP2, in case-control sets of diverse ethnic origins.
Methods
We fine-mapped TNIP1, TNIP2, and TAX1BP1 in a total of 8372 SLE cases and 7492 healthy controls from European-ancestry, African-American, Hispanic, East Asian, and African-American Gullah populations. Levels of TNIP1 mRNA and ABIN1 protein were analyzed using quantitative RT-PCR and Western blotting, respectively, in EBV-transformed human B cell lines.
Results
We found significant associations between genetic variants within TNIP1 and SLE but not in TNIP2 or TAX1BP1. After resequencing and imputation, we identified two independent risk haplotypes within TNIP1 in individuals of European-ancestry that were also present in African-American and Hispanic populations. These risk haplotypes produced lower levels of TNIP1 mRNA and ABIN1 protein suggesting they harbor hypomorphic functional variants that influence susceptibility to SLE by restricting ABIN1 expression.
Conclusion
Our results confirmed the association signals between SLE and TNIP1 variants in multiple populations and provide new insight into the mechanism by which TNIP1 variants may contribute to SLE pathogenesis.
doi:10.1002/art.34642
PMCID: PMC3485412  PMID: 22833143
18.  Impact of Genetic Ancestry and Socio-Demographic Status on the Clinical Expression of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Amerindian-European Populations 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3687-3694.
Objective
Amerindian-Europeans, Asians and African-Americans have an excess morbidity from SLE and higher prevalence of lupus nephritis than Caucasians. The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between genetic ancestry and socio-demographic characteristics and clinical features in a large cohort of Amerindian-European SLE patients.
Methods
A total of 2116 SLE patients of Amerindian-European origin and 4001 SLE patients of European descent with clinical data were used in the study. Genotyping of 253 continental ancestry informative markers was performed on the Illumina platform. The STRUCTURE and ADMIXTURE software were used to determine genetic ancestry of each individual. Correlation between ancestry and socio-demographic and clinical data were analyzed using logistic regression.
Results
The average Amerindian genetic ancestry of 2116 SLE patients was 40.7%. There was an increased risk of having renal involvement (P<0.0001, OR= 3.50 95%CI 2.63-4.63) and an early age of onset with the presence of Amerindian genetic ancestry (P<0.0001). Amerindian ancestry protected against photosensitivity (P<0.0001, OR= 0.58 95%CI 0.44-0.76), oral ulcers (P<0.0001, OR= 0.55 95%CI 0.42-0.72), and serositis (P<0.0001, OR= 0.56 95%CI 0.41-0.75) after adjustment by age, gender and age of onset. However, gender and age of onset had stronger effects on malar rash, discoid rash, arthritis and neurological involvement than genetic ancestry.
Conclusion
In general, genetic Amerindian ancestry correlates with lower socio-demographic status and increases the risk for developing renal involvement and SLE at an earlier age of onset.
doi:10.1002/art.34650
PMCID: PMC3485439  PMID: 22886787
19.  Preferential Binding to Elk-1 by SLE-Associated IL10 Risk Allele Upregulates IL10 Expression 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003870.
Immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) is elevated in sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) correlating with disease activity. The established association of IL10 with SLE and other autoimmune diseases led us to fine map causal variant(s) and to explore underlying mechanisms. We assessed 19 tag SNPs, covering the IL10 gene cluster including IL19, IL20 and IL24, for association with SLE in 15,533 case and control subjects from four ancestries. The previously reported IL10 variant, rs3024505 located at 1 kb downstream of IL10, exhibited the strongest association signal and was confirmed for association with SLE in European American (EA) (P = 2.7×10−8, OR = 1.30), but not in non-EA ancestries. SNP imputation conducted in EA dataset identified three additional SLE-associated SNPs tagged by rs3024505 (rs3122605, rs3024493 and rs3024495 located at 9.2 kb upstream, intron 3 and 4 of IL10, respectively), and SLE-risk alleles of these SNPs were dose-dependently associated with elevated levels of IL10 mRNA in PBMCs and circulating IL-10 protein in SLE patients and controls. Using nuclear extracts of peripheral blood cells from SLE patients for electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we identified specific binding of transcription factor Elk-1 to oligodeoxynucleotides containing the risk (G) allele of rs3122605, suggesting rs3122605 as the most likely causal variant regulating IL10 expression. Elk-1 is known to be activated by phosphorylation and nuclear localization to induce transcription. Of interest, phosphorylated Elk-1 (p-Elk-1) detected only in nuclear extracts of SLE PBMCs appeared to increase with disease activity. Co-expression levels of p-Elk-1 and IL-10 were elevated in SLE T, B cells and monocytes, associated with increased disease activity in SLE B cells, and were best downregulated by ERK inhibitor. Taken together, our data suggest that preferential binding of activated Elk-1 to the IL10 rs3122605-G allele upregulates IL10 expression and confers increased risk for SLE in European Americans.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a debilitating autoimmune disease characterized by the production of pathogenic autoantibodies, has a strong genetic basis. Variants of the IL10 gene, which encodes cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) with known function of promoting B cell hyperactivity and autoantibody production, are associated with SLE and other autoimmune diseases, and serum IL-10 levels are elevated in SLE patients correlating with increased disease activity. In this study, to discover SLE-predisposing causal variant(s), we assessed variants within the genomic region containing IL10 and its gene family member IL19, IL20 and IL24 for association with SLE in case and control subjects from diverse ancestries. We identified SLE-associated SNP rs3122605 located at 9.2 kb upstream of IL10 as the most likely causal variant in subjects of European ancestry. The SLE-risk allele of rs3122605 was dose-dependently associated with elevated IL10 expression at both mRNA and protein levels in peripheral blood samples from SLE patients and controls, which could be explained, at least in part, by its preferential binding to Elk-1, a transcription factor activated in B cells during active disease of SLE patients. Elk-1-mediated IL-10 overexpression could be downregulated by inhibiting activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, suggesting a potential therapeutic target for SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003870
PMCID: PMC3794920  PMID: 24130510
20.  Primary Biliary Cirrhosis and the Nuclear Pore Complex 
Autoimmunity reviews  2012;11(12):898-902.
Experimental models of autoimmune diseases have led to the conclusion that an immune response to nuclear antigens is a sentinel marker for loss of tolerance and potential tissue damage. Various proteins are targets of antinuclear antibodies in a variety of autoimmune diseases, ranging from systemic rheumatologic disorders to diseases affecting specific organs such as the liver. Autoantibodies against specific nuclear constituents have also been used as probes to understand the structure and the function of the targeted components and their relevance to disease pathogenesis. Approximately a quarter of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) have antibodies targeting proteins of the nuclear pore complex (NPC), a multi-protein structure that mediates molecular transport across the nuclear envelope. Autoantibodies against the integral membrane glycoprotein gp210 and nucleoporin p62 appear to be highly specific for PBC, an autoimmune disease characterized by progressive destruction of intrahepatic biliary epithelial cells. This review discusses the diagnostic and clinical relevance of anti-NPC antibodies in PBC and the possibility that this autoimmune response may arise as a result of molecular mimicry.
doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2012.03.005
PMCID: PMC3396748  PMID: 22487189
autoantibody; autoantigen; autoimmunity; nuclear envelope; nuclear pore complex; nucleoporin; primary biliary cirrhosis
21.  What is next after the genes for autoimmunity? 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:197.
Clinical pathologies draw us to envisage disease as either an independent entity or a diverse set of traits governed by common physiopathological mechanisms, prompted by environmental assaults throughout life. Autoimmune diseases are not an exception, given they represent a diverse collection of diseases in terms of their demographic profile and primary clinical manifestations. Although they are pleiotropic outcomes of non-specific disease genes underlying similar immunogenetic mechanisms, research generally focuses on a single disease. Drastic technologic advances are leading research to organize clinical genomic multidisciplinary approaches to decipher the nature of human biological systems. Once the currently costly omic-based technologies become universally accessible, the way will be paved for a cleaner picture to risk quantification, prevention, prognosis and diagnosis, allowing us to clearly define better phenotypes always ensuring the integrity of the individuals studied. However, making accurate predictions for most autoimmune diseases is an ambitious challenge, since the understanding of these pathologies is far from complete. Herein, some pitfalls and challenges of the genetics of autoimmune diseases are reviewed, and an approximation to the future of research in this field is presented.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-197
PMCID: PMC3765994  PMID: 24107170
Autoimmunity; Common; Genetics; Genomics; Personalized; Predictive medicine; Polyautoimmunity; Translational medicine
22.  Relation of Sensory Peripheral Neuropathy in Sjögren Syndrome to anti-Ro/SSA 
Background
Sjögren syndrome is a common, chronic autoimmune disease that typically produces inflammation and poor function of the salivary and lacrimal glands. Other organs can be affected, including the nervous system. Sensory peripheral neuropathy is a common manifestation of the disease.
Methods
Eight-eight patients attending a dry eyes-dry mouth clinic were classified as primary Sjögren syndrome and underwent a neurological examination. Anti-Ro (or SSA) and anti-La (or SSB) were determined using immunodiffusion as well as Inno-Lia and BioPlex ANA screen. Serum vitamin B12 levels were determined using an enzyme-linked microtiter plate assay.
Results
Twenty-seven (31%) of the 88 patients had peripheral neuropathy as defined by loss of light touch, proprioception or vibratory sensation. Anti-Ro and anti-La were found by immunodiffusion in 12 patients, and 8 of these 12 had neuropathy (χ2=8.46, p=0.0036, odds ratio = 6.0 compared to those without precipitating anti-Ro and anti-La). Of the 27 patients with only anti-Ro by immunodiffusion, 13 (48.1%) of these had neuropathy (χ2 =5.587, p=0.018 compared to those without anti-Ro). There was no relationship of the other, more sensitive measures of anti-Ro and anti-La to neuropathy. In addition, we found no association of serum vitamin B12 levels to neuropathy among these patients with Sjögren syndrome.
Conclusion
Sensory peripheral neuropathy is common among patients with Sjögren syndrome, and is associated with the presence of anti-Ro and anti-La when determined by immunodiffusion.
doi:10.1097/RHU.0b013e3182675e4f
PMCID: PMC3577358  PMID: 22955477
Sjögren syndrome; autoantibodies; peripheral neuropathy; vitamin B12
23.  PTPN22 Association in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) with Respect to Individual Ancestry and Clinical Sub-Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e69404.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 (PTPN22) is a negative regulator of T-cell activation associated with several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Missense rs2476601 is associated with SLE in individuals with European ancestry. Since the rs2476601 risk allele frequency differs dramatically across ethnicities, we assessed robustness of PTPN22 association with SLE and its clinical sub-phenotypes across four ethnically diverse populations. Ten SNPs were genotyped in 8220 SLE cases and 7369 controls from in European-Americans (EA), African-Americans (AA), Asians (AS), and Hispanics (HS). We performed imputation-based association followed by conditional analysis to identify independent associations. Significantly associated SNPs were tested for association with SLE clinical sub-phenotypes, including autoantibody profiles. Multiple testing was accounted for by using false discovery rate. We successfully imputed and tested allelic association for 107 SNPs within the PTPN22 region and detected evidence of ethnic-specific associations from EA and HS. In EA, the strongest association was at rs2476601 (P = 4.7×10−9, OR = 1.40 (95% CI = 1.25–1.56)). Independent association with rs1217414 was also observed in EA, and both SNPs are correlated with increased European ancestry. For HS imputed intronic SNP, rs3765598, predicted to be a cis-eQTL, was associated (P = 0.007, OR = 0.79 and 95% CI = 0.67–0.94). No significant associations were observed in AA or AS. Case-only analysis using lupus-related clinical criteria revealed differences between EA SLE patients positive for moderate to high titers of IgG anti-cardiolipin (aCL IgG >20) versus negative aCL IgG at rs2476601 (P = 0.012, OR = 1.65). Association was reinforced when these cases were compared to controls (P = 2.7×10−5, OR = 2.11). Our results validate that rs2476601 is the most significantly associated SNP in individuals with European ancestry. Additionally, rs1217414 and rs3765598 may be associated with SLE. Further studies are required to confirm the involvement of rs2476601 with aCL IgG.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069404
PMCID: PMC3737240  PMID: 23950893
24.  Trans-Ancestral Studies Fine Map the SLE-Susceptibility Locus TNFSF4 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(7):e1003554.
We previously established an 80 kb haplotype upstream of TNFSF4 as a susceptibility locus in the autoimmune disease SLE. SLE-associated alleles at this locus are associated with inflammatory disorders, including atherosclerosis and ischaemic stroke. In Europeans, the TNFSF4 causal variants have remained elusive due to strong linkage disequilibrium exhibited by alleles spanning the region. Using a trans-ancestral approach to fine-map the locus, utilising 17,900 SLE and control subjects including Amerindian/Hispanics (1348 cases, 717 controls), African-Americans (AA) (1529, 2048) and better powered cohorts of Europeans and East Asians, we find strong association of risk alleles in all ethnicities; the AA association replicates in African-American Gullah (152,122). The best evidence of association comes from two adjacent markers: rs2205960-T (P = 1.71×10−34, OR = 1.43[1.26–1.60]) and rs1234317-T (P = 1.16×10−28, OR = 1.38[1.24–1.54]). Inference of fine-scale recombination rates for all populations tested finds the 80 kb risk and non-risk haplotypes in all except African-Americans. In this population the decay of recombination equates to an 11 kb risk haplotype, anchored in the 5′ region proximal to TNFSF4 and tagged by rs2205960-T after 1000 Genomes phase 1 (v3) imputation. Conditional regression analyses delineate the 5′ risk signal to rs2205960-T and the independent non-risk signal to rs1234314-C. Our case-only and SLE-control cohorts demonstrate robust association of rs2205960-T with autoantibody production. The rs2205960-T is predicted to form part of a decameric motif which binds NF-κBp65 with increased affinity compared to rs2205960-G. ChIP-seq data also indicate NF-κB interaction with the DNA sequence at this position in LCL cells. Our research suggests association of rs2205960-T with SLE across multiple groups and an independent non-risk signal at rs1234314-C. rs2205960-T is associated with autoantibody production and lymphopenia. Our data confirm a global signal at TNFSF4 and a role for the expressed product at multiple stages of lymphocyte dysregulation during SLE pathogenesis. We confirm the validity of trans-ancestral mapping in a complex trait.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE/lupus) is a complex disease in which the body's immune cells cause inflammation in one or more systems to cause the associated morbidity. Hormones, the environment and genes are all causal contributors to SLE and over the past several years the genetic component of SLE has been firmly established. Several genes which are regulators of the immune system are associated with disease risk. We have established one of these, the tumour-necrosis family superfamily member 4 (TNFSF4) gene, as a lupus susceptibility gene in Northern Europeans. A major obstacle in pinpointing the marker(s) at TNFSF4 which best explain the risk of SLE has been the strong correlation (linkage disequilibrium, LD) between adjacent markers across the TNFSF4 region in this population. To address this, we have typed polymorphisms in several populations in addition to the European groups. The mixed ancestry of these populations gives a different LD pattern than that found in Europeans, presenting a method of pinpointing the section of the TNFSF4 region which results in SLE susceptibility. The Non-European populations have allowed identification of a polymorphism likely to regulate expression of TNFSF4 to increase susceptibility to SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003554
PMCID: PMC3715547  PMID: 23874208
25.  Evaluation of TRAF6 in a Large Multi-Ancestral Lupus Cohort 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(6):1960-1969.
Objective
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease with significant immune system aberrations resulting from complex heritable genetics as well as environmental factors. TRAF6 is a candidate gene for SLE, which has a major role in several signaling pathways that are important for immunity and organ development.
Methods
Fifteen single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), across TRAF6 were evaluated in 7,490 SLE and 6,780 control subjects from different ancestries. Population-based case-control association analyses and meta-analyses were performed. P values, false discovery rate q values, and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Results
Evidence of associations in multiple SNPs was detected. The best overall p values were obtained for SNPs rs5030437 and rs4755453 (p=7.85×10−5 and p=4.73×10−5, respectively) without significant heterogeneity among populations (p=0.67 and p=0.50 in Q-statistic). In addition, rs540386 previously reported to be associated with RA was found to be in LD with these two SNPs (r2= 0.95) and demonstrated evidence of association with SLE in the same direction (meta-analysis p=9.15×10−4, OR=0.89, 95%CI=0.83–0.95). Thrombocytopenia improved the overall results in different populations (meta-analysis p=1.99×10−6, OR=0.57, 95%CI=0.45–0.72, for rs5030470). Finally evidence of family based association in 34 African-American pedigrees with the presence of thrombocytopenia were detected in one available SNP rs5030437 with Z score magnitude of 2.28 (p=0.02) under a dominant model.
Conclusion
Our data indicate the presence of association of TRAF6 with SLE in agreement with the previous report of association with RA. These data provide further support for the involvement of TRAF6 in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.
doi:10.1002/art.34361
PMCID: PMC3380425  PMID: 22231568
TRAF6; polymorphism; systemic lupus erythematosus

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