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1.  DC-Based Immunotherapy Combined with Low-Dose Methotrexate Effective in the Treatment of Advanced CIA in Mice 
Journal of Immunology Research  2015;2015:834085.
We have previously demonstrated that semimature dendritic cell- (smDC-) based immunotherapy is effective for the treatment of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) prior to disease onset. In the present study, we examined the efficacy of combination therapy with smDCs and methotrexate (MTX) in advanced CIA with a score of 2-3. Combination therapy with low-dose MTX and type II collagen- (CII-) pulsed smDCs (CII-smDCs) was more effective in inhibiting disease progression than high or low-dose MTX alone or a combination of high dose MTX and CII-smDCs. The effect of CII-smDCs alone was also comparable to the combination therapy. CD4+Foxp3+ Treg populations and IL-10 secretion markedly increased, and CII-specific autoreactive T cells decreased in mice treated with CII-smDCs alone or in combination with MTX. Combination therapy reduced the secretion of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and IL-17 with little influence on the IL-4 secretion in the mixed leukocyte reaction. These results imply that the combination therapy with low-dose MTX and smDCs is effective in controlling advanced CIA by enhancing Treg population and suppresses antigen-specific Th1/Th17 immunity, rather than initiating Th1 to Th2 immune deviation. Our findings provide a better understanding of the DC therapy in combination with MTX for the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
PMCID: PMC4499408  PMID: 26221616
2.  High-Density Genotyping of Immune Loci in Koreans and Europeans Identifies Eight New Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Loci 
A highly polygenic etiology and high degree of allele-sharing between ancestries have been well-elucidated in genetic studies of rheumatoid arthritis. Recently, the high-density genotyping array Immunochip for immune disease loci identified 14 new rheumatoid arthritis risk loci among individuals of European ancestry. Here, we aimed to identify new rheumatoid arthritis risk loci using Korean-specific Immunochip data.
We analyzed Korean rheumatoid arthritis case-control samples using the Immunochip and GWAS array to search for new risk alleles of rheumatoid arthritis with anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies. To increase power, we performed a meta-analysis of Korean data with previously published European Immunochip and GWAS data, for a total sample size of 9,299 Korean and 45,790 European case-control samples.
We identified 8 new rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility loci (TNFSF4, LBH, EOMES, ETS1–FLI1, COG6, RAD51B, UBASH3A and SYNGR1) that passed a genome-wide significance threshold (p<5×10−8), with evidence for three independent risk alleles at 1q25/TNFSF4. The risk alleles from the 7 new loci except for the TNFSF4 locus (monomorphic in Koreans), together with risk alleles from previously established RA risk loci, exhibited a high correlation of effect sizes between ancestries. Further, we refined the number of SNPs that represent potentially causal variants through a trans-ethnic comparison of densely genotyped SNPs.
This study demonstrates the advantage of dense-mapping and trans-ancestral analysis for identification of potentially causal SNPs. In addition, our findings support the importance of T cells in the pathogenesis and the fact of frequent overlap of risk loci among diverse autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC4467986  PMID: 24532676
Rheumatoid arthritis; Gene polymorphism; Anti-CCP
3.  Evaluation of TRAF6 in a Large Multi-Ancestral Lupus Cohort 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(6):1960-1969.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3380425  PMID: 22231568
TRAF6; polymorphism; systemic lupus erythematosus
4.  Multicenter Retrospective Analysis of the Effectiveness and Safety of Rituximab in Korean Patients with Refractory Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Autoimmune Diseases  2012;2012:565039.
Objective. Although two recent randomized placebo-controlled trials of rituximab (RTX) failed to demonstrate efficacy in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), clinicians continue to use off-label RTX for cases refractory to current treatments. We evaluated the effectiveness and safety of rituximab for patients with refractory SLE in Korea. Methods. We retrospectively analyzed multicenter patients treated with RTX in Korea. Results. 39 SLE patients treated with RTX were included in the following manner: lupus nephritis 43.6%, hematologic 33.3%, arthritis 7.8%, myositis 7.8%, and others 7.7%. All patients had responded poorly to at least one conventional immunosuppressive agent (mean 2.5 ± 1.1, cyclophosphamide 43.6%, mycophenolate mofetil 48.7%, and other drugs) before RTX. Clinical improvements (complete or partial remission) occurred in patients with renal disease, hematologic disease, arthritis, myositis, and other manifestations at 6 months after RTX. The SLEDAI score was significantly decreased from 10.8 ± 7.1 at baseline to 6.7 ± 4.0 at 6 months, 6.2 ± 4.1 at 12 months, and 5.5 ± 3.6 at 24 months after RTX (P < 0.05). Among 28 clinical responders, 4 patients experienced a relapse of disease at 25 ± 4 months. Infections were noted in 3 patients (7.7%). Conclusion. RTX could be an effective and relatively safe therapeutic option in patients with severe refractory SLE until novel B-cell depletion therapy is available.
PMCID: PMC3523406  PMID: 23304457
5.  Variation in the ICAM1–ICAM4–ICAM5 locus is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus susceptibility in multiple ancestries 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;71(11):1809-1814.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; OMIM 152700) is a chronic autoimmune disease for which the aetiology includes genetic and environmental factors. ITGAM, integrin αΜ (complement component 3 receptor 3 subunit) encoding a ligand for intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM) proteins, is an established SLE susceptibility locus. This study aimed to evaluate the independent and joint effects of genetic variations in the genes that encode ITGAM and ICAM.
The authors examined several markers in the ICAM1–ICAM4–ICAM5 locus on chromosome 19p13 and the single ITGAM polymorphism (rs1143679) using a large-scale case–control study of 17 481 unrelated participants from four ancestry populations. The single marker association and gene–gene interaction were analysed for each ancestry, and a meta-analysis across the four ancestries was performed.
The A-allele of ICAM1–ICAM4–ICAM5 rs3093030, associated with elevated plasma levels of soluble ICAM1, and the A-allele of ITGAM rs1143679 showed the strongest association with increased SLE susceptibility in each of the ancestry populations and the trans-ancestry meta-analysis (ORmeta=1.16, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.22; p=4.88×10−10 and ORmeta=1.67, 95% CI 1.55 to 1.79; p=3.32×10−46, respectively). The effect of the ICAM single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was independent of the effect of the ITGAM SNP rs1143679, and carriers of both ICAM rs3093030-AA and ITGAM rs1143679-AA had an OR of 4.08 compared with those with no risk allele in either SNP (95% CI 2.09 to 7.98; p=3.91×10−5).
These findings are the first to suggest that an ICAM–integrin-mediated pathway contributes to susceptibility to SLE.
PMCID: PMC3466387  PMID: 22523428
6.  Association of STAT4 with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Korean Population 
Molecular Medicine  2007;13(9-10):455-460.
A recent study in the North American White population has documented the association of a common STAT4 haplotype (tagged by rs7574865) with risk for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus. To replicate this finding in the Korean population, we performed a case-control association study. We genotyped 67 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the STAT1 and STAT4 regions in 1123 Korean patients with RA and 1008 ethnicity-matched controls. The most significant four risk SNPs (rs11889341, rs7574865, rs8179673, and rs10181656 located within the third intron of STAT4) among 67 SNPs are identical with those in the North American study. All four SNPs have modest risk for RA susceptibility (odds ratio 1.21–1.27). A common haplotype defined by these markers (TTCG) carries significant risk for RA in Koreans [34 percent versus 28 percent, P = 0.0027, OR (95 percent CI) = 1.33 (1.10–1.60)]. By logistic regression analysis, this haplotype is an independent risk factor in addition to the classical shared epitope alleles at the HLA-DRB1 locus. There were no significant associations with age of disease onset, radiographic progression, or serologic status using either allelic or haplotypic analysis. Unlike several other risk genes for RA such as PTPN22, PADI4, and FCRL3, a haplotype of the STAT4 gene shows consistent association with RA susceptibility across Whites and Asians, suggesting that this risk haplotype predates the divergence of the major racial groups.
PMCID: PMC2014726  PMID: 17932559
7.  Meta-Analysis of Associations Between the Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor-γ Pro12Ala Polymorphism and Susceptibility to Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Psoriatic Arthritis 
Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine whether a Proline (Pro)-to-Alanine (Ala) exchange at codon 12 (Pro12Ala) polymorphism of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARγ) is associated with susceptibility to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Methods: A meta-analysis was conducted on the association between the PPARγ Pro12Ala polymorphism and NAFLD, RA, and PsA. Results: Nine studies, including five on NAFLD, two on RA, and two on PsA, were available for the meta-analysis consisting of 8082 cases and 3790 controls. The meta-analysis revealed no association between the Ala allele of the PPARγ Pro12Ala polymorphism and NAFLD (odds ratios [OR]=0.936, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.672–1.302, p=0.693). However, stratification by ethnicity indicated an association between the Ala allele and NAFLD in East Asians (OR=0.700, 95% CI=0.496–0.987, p=0.042), but not in Europeans (OR=1.128, 95% CI=0.863–1.475, p=0.378). Analysis using the dominant model showed the same Ala allele pattern in East Asians and Europeans (OR=0.688, 95% CI=0.484–0.978, p=0.037; OR=1.051, 95% CI=0.782–1.413, p=0.742), demonstrating a significant association between the Ala allele and NAFLD in East Asians. The meta-analysis revealed no association between the Ala allele and RA in East Asians (OR=0.467, 95% CI=0.188–1.161, p=0.101), and no association was found between the Ala allele and PsA in Europeans (OR=0.869, 95% CI=0.465–1.627, p=0.662). Conclusions: Our meta-analysis demonstrates that the PPARγ Pro12Ala polymorphism is associated with susceptibility to NAFLD in East Asians, but not in European populations.
PMCID: PMC4010165  PMID: 24697566
8.  Allelic heterogeneity in NCF2 associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility across four ethnic populations 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;23(6):1656-1668.
Recent reports have associated NCF2, encoding a core component of the multi-protein NADPH oxidase (NADPHO), with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility in individuals of European ancestry. To identify ethnicity-specific and -robust variants within NCF2, we assessed 145 SNPs in and around the NCF2 gene in 5325 cases and 21 866 controls of European-American (EA), African-American (AA), Hispanic (HS) and Korean (KR) ancestry. Subsequent imputation, conditional, haplotype and bioinformatic analyses identified seven potentially functional SLE-predisposing variants. Association with non-synonymous rs17849502, previously reported in EA, was detected in EA, HS and AA (PEA = 1.01 × 10−54, PHS = 3.68 × 10−10, PAA = 0.03); synonymous rs17849501 was similarly significant. These SNPs were monomorphic in KR. Novel associations were detected with coding variants at rs35937854 in AA (PAA = 1.49 × 10−9), and rs13306575 in HS and KR (PHS = 7.04 × 10−7, PKR = 3.30 × 10−3). In KR, a 3-SNP haplotype was significantly associated (P = 4.20 × 10−7), implying that SLE predisposing variants were tagged. Significant SNP–SNP interaction (P = 0.02) was detected between rs13306575 and rs17849502 in HS, and a dramatically increased risk (OR = 6.55) with a risk allele at each locus. Molecular modeling predicts that these non-synonymous mutations could disrupt NADPHO complex assembly. The risk allele of rs17849501, located in a conserved transcriptional regulatory region, increased reporter gene activity, suggesting in vivo enhancer function. Our results not only establish allelic heterogeneity within NCF2 associated with SLE, but also emphasize the utility of multi-ethnic cohorts to identify predisposing variants explaining additional phenotypic variance (‘missing heritability’) of complex diseases like SLE.
PMCID: PMC3929085  PMID: 24163247
9.  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.
PMCID: PMC4288052  PMID: 25620976
lupus; PXK; fine-mapping; B cells; BCR
10.  Lymphoma risk in systemic lupus: effects of disease activity versus treatment 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;73(1):10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202099.
To examine disease activity versus treatment as lymphoma risk factors in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
We performed case–cohort analyses within a multisite SLE cohort. Cancers were ascertained by regional registry linkages. Adjusted HRs for lymphoma were generated in regression models, for time-dependent exposures to immunomodulators (cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, methotrexate, mycophenolate, antimalarial drugs, glucocorticoids) demographics, calendar year, Sjogren’s syndrome, SLE duration and disease activity. We used adjusted mean SLE Disease Activity Index scores (SLEDAI-2K) over time, and drugs were treated both categorically (ever/never) and as estimated cumulative doses.
We studied 75 patients with lymphoma (72 non-Hodgkin, three Hodgkin) and 4961 cancer-free controls. Most lymphomas were of B-cell origin. As is seen in the general population, lymphoma risk in SLE was higher in male than female patients and increased with age. Lymphomas occurred a mean of 12.4 years (median 10.9) after SLE diagnosis. Unadjusted and adjusted analyses failed to show a clear association of disease activity with lymphoma risk. There was a suggestion of greater exposure to cyclophosphamide and to higher cumulative steroids in lymphoma cases than the cancer-free controls.
In this large SLE sample, there was a suggestion of higher lymphoma risk with exposure to cyclophosphamide and high cumulative steroids. Disease activity itself was not clearly associated with lymphoma risk. Further work will focus on genetic profiles that might interact with medication exposure to influence lymphoma risk in SLE.
PMCID: PMC3855611  PMID: 23303389
11.  Construction and Application of a Korean Reference Panel for Imputing Classical Alleles and Amino Acids of Human Leukocyte Antigen Genes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112546.
Genetic variations of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) locus are strongly associated with disease susceptibility and prognosis for many diseases, including many autoimmune diseases. In this study, we developed a Korean HLA reference panel for imputing classical alleles and amino acid residues of several HLA genes. An HLA reference panel has potential for use in identifying and fine-mapping disease associations with the MHC locus in East Asian populations, including Koreans. A total of 413 unrelated Korean subjects were analyzed for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at the MHC locus and six HLA genes, including HLA-A, -B, -C, -DRB1, -DPB1, and -DQB1. The HLA reference panel was constructed by phasing the 5,858 MHC SNPs, 233 classical HLA alleles, and 1,387 amino acid residue markers from 1,025 amino acid positions as binary variables. The imputation accuracy of the HLA reference panel was assessed by measuring concordance rates between imputed and genotyped alleles of the HLA genes from a subset of the study subjects and East Asian HapMap individuals. Average concordance rates were 95.6% and 91.1% at 2-digit and 4-digit allele resolutions, respectively. The imputation accuracy was minimally affected by SNP density of a test dataset for imputation. In conclusion, the Korean HLA reference panel we developed was highly suitable for imputing HLA alleles and amino acids from MHC SNPs in East Asians, including Koreans.
PMCID: PMC4232350  PMID: 25398076
12.  Endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene polymorphisms and the risk of osteonecrosis of the femoral head in systemic lupus erythematosus 
International Orthopaedics  2013;37(11):2289-2296.
Nitric oxide (NO), a short-lived gaseous free radical, is a potent mediator of biological responses involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune rheumatic diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nitric oxide also serves as an important signal in physiological processes, including angiogenesis, thrombosis, and bone turnover, which are known to be related to the pathogenesis of osteonecrosis. We investigated whether NOS3 gene polymorphisms are associated with risk of osteonecrosis of the femoral head (ONFH).
Five polymorphisms in the NOS3 gene were genotyped using TaqMan assays in 306 controls, 150 SLE patients, and 50 SLE patients with ONFH (SLE_ONFH).
We found that Asp258Asp and Glu298Asp (G894T) polymorphisms in the NOS3 gene were significantly associated with risk of ONFH. Additionally, we calculated haplotype frequencies of a linkage disequilibrium (LD) block in NOS3 (rs1799983 − rs1800780) and tested for haplotype associations. The haplotypes G-A and T-A showed significant protective (P = 1.6 × 10-3; OR 0.39, 95 % confidence intervals (CI) 0.22–0.7) and increased risk (P = 2.0 x 10-5–6.0 x 10-4; OR 3.17−3.73) effects for ONFH, respectively.
These results suggest that exonic NOS3 polymorphisms may increase the risk of ONFH in Korean SLE patients
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00264-013-1966-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3824903  PMID: 23775455
13.  Non-Lymphoma Hematological Malignancies in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Oncology  2013;85(4):10.1159/000350165.
To describe non-lymphoma hematological malignancies in SLE.
A large SLE cohort was linked to cancer registries. We examined the types of non-lymphoma hematological cancers.
In 16, 409 patients, 115 hematological cancers (including myelodysplastic syndrome) occurred. Among these, 33 were non-lymphoma. Of the 33 non-lymphoma cases, 13 were of lymphoid lineage: multiple myeloma (N=5), plasmacytoma (N=3), B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, B-CLL (N=3), precursor cell lymphoblastic leukemia (N=1), and unspecified lymphoid leukemia (N=1). The remaining 20 cases were of myeloid lineage: myelodysplastic syndrome, MDS (N=7), acute myeloid leukemia, AML (N=7), chronic myeloid leukemia, CML (N=2), and 4 unspecified leukemias. Most of these malignancies occurred in female Caucasians, except for plasma cell neoplasms (4/5 multiple myeloma and 1/3 plasmacytoma cases occurred in blacks).
In this large SLE cohort, the most common non-lymphoma hematological malignancies were myeloid types (MDS and AML). This contrasts to the general population, where lymphoid types are 1.7 times more common than myeloid non-lymphoma hematological malignancies. Most (80%) multiple myeloma cases occurred in blacks, which requires further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3880772  PMID: 24107608
Systemic lupus erythematosus; malignancy; cancer
14.  Targeted exon sequencing fails to identify rare coding variants with large effect in rheumatoid arthritis 
Although it has been suggested that rare coding variants could explain the substantial missing heritability, very few sequencing studies have been performed in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We aimed to identify novel functional variants with rare to low frequency using targeted exon sequencing of RA in Korea.
We analyzed targeted exon sequencing data of 398 genes selected from a multifaceted approach in Korean RA patients (n = 1,217) and controls (n = 717). We conducted a single-marker association test and a gene-based analysis of rare variants. For meta-analysis or enrichment tests, we also used ethnically matched independent samples of Korean genome-wide association studies (GWAS) (n = 4,799) or immunochip data (n = 4,722).
After stringent quality control, we analyzed 10,588 variants of 398 genes from 1,934 Korean RA case controls. We identified 13 nonsynonymous variants with nominal association in single-variant association tests. In a meta-analysis, we did not find any novel variant with genome-wide significance for RA risk. Using a gene-based approach, we identified 17 genes with nominal burden signals. Among them, VSTM1 showed the greatest association with RA (P = 7.80 × 10−4). In the enrichment test using Korean GWAS, although the significant signal appeared to be driven by total genic variants, we found no evidence for enriched association of coding variants only with RA.
We were unable to identify rare coding variants with large effect to explain the missing heritability for RA in the current targeted resequencing study. Our study raises skepticism about exon sequencing of targeted genes for complex diseases like RA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0447-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4203956  PMID: 25267259
16.  Efficacy and safety of tofacitinib for active rheumatoid arthritis with an inadequate response to methotrexate or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials 
The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of tofacitinib (5 and 10 mg twice daily) in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
A systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the efficacy and safety of tofacitinib in patients with active RA was performed using the Medline, Embase, and Cochrane Controlled Trials Register databases as well as manual searches.
Five RCTs, including three phase-II and two phase-III trials involving 1,590 patients, met the inclusion criteria. The three phase-II RCTs included 452 patients with RA (144 patients randomized to 5 mg of tofacitinib twice daily, 156 patients randomized to 10 mg of tofacitinib twice daily, and 152 patients randomized to placebo) who were included in this meta-analysis. The American College of Rheumatology 20% response rate was significantly higher in the tofacitinib 5- and 10-mg groups than in the control group (relative risk [RR], 2.445; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.229 to 4.861; p = 0.011; and RR, 2.597; 95% CI, 1.514 to 4.455; p = 0.001, respectively). The safety outcomes did not differ between the tofacitinib 5- and 10-mg groups and placebo groups with the exception of infection in the tofacitinib 10-mg group (RR, 2.133; 95% CI, 1.268 to 3.590; p = 0.004). The results of two phase-III trials (1,123 patients) confirmed the findings in the phase-II studies.
Tofacitinib at dosages of 5 and 10 mg twice daily was found to be effective in patients with active RA that inadequately responded to methotrexate or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, and showed a manageable safety profile.
PMCID: PMC4164730  PMID: 25228842
Tofacitinib; Efficacy; Safety; Arthritis, rheumatoid
17.  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.
PMCID: PMC3944098  PMID: 24390342
18.  Are glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis recommendations sufficient to determine antiosteoporotic treatment for patients with rheumatoid arthritis? 
We investigated differences in identifying candidates for antiosteoporotic treatment in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients according to two available clinical guidelines.
We prospectively enrolled 100 female patients aged 50 years or older with RA who visited Hanyang University Hospital for periodic examinations between April 2011 and August 2011. We applied the glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (GIOP) recommendations and the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) guidelines to RA patients and examined agreement between the guidelines for identifying candidates for antiosteoporotic treatment. We also analyzed the impact of screening vertebral fractures (VFs) in determining the treatment of osteoporosis in RA patients.
The 57 patients taking glucocorticoids were classified into high-risk (n = 23), medium-risk (n = 16), and low-risk (n = 18) groups according to the GIOP recommendations. Based on the NOF guidelines, 36 of 57 patients were candidates for antiosteoporotic treatment and the agreement between two guidelines was high (κ = 0.76). Two of the 18 patients in the low-risk group and 19 of 43 patients not eligible per the GIOP recommendations were classified as candidates for antiosteoporotic treatment by the NOF guidelines.
In determining antiosteoporotic treatment for RA patients, using only the GIOP recommendations is insufficient. Application of the NOF guidelines in patients not eligible for or classified into the low-risk group per the GIOP recommendations and screening for VFs may be helpful in deciding on antiosteoporotic treatment in RA patients.
PMCID: PMC4101598  PMID: 25045299
Glucocorticoids; Osteoporosis; Arthritis, rheumatoid; Guideline
19.  The Influence of Vertebral Fracture on the Functional Disability of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2014;29(6):859-863.
The aim of the present study was to identify the influence of vertebral fracture (VF) on the functional disability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study consecutively enrolled 100 female patients aged 50 yr or older with RA. All participants underwent lateral imaging of the thoracolumbar spine by simple radiography to identify any VFs. They also completed questionnaires via interview regarding demographics, medical history, and disease outcomes including functional disability. We used univariate analysis to evaluate associations between functional disability and VF, and made multivariate logistic regression models to test independent effect of the presence of VF, the number of VFs, and the severity of VF on functional disability. Among the 100 RA patients, 47 had at least one VF, but 34 of them were asymptomatic that they had experienced a fracture. The multiple VFs ≥ 3 (OR, 8.95; 95% CI, 1.77-44.15, P = 0.01) and moderate or severe VF (OR, 3.38; 95% CI, 1.26-9.04, P = 0.02) were related to disability in univariate analysis. The multiple VFs ≥ 3 (OR, 6.13; 95% CI, 1.02-36.94, P = 0.048) was associated with functional disability of RA patients after adjusting various confounders and it was mainly in walking and arising. The VF might be an important factor which affects functional disability in RA patients.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC4055822  PMID: 24932090
Arthritis, Rheumatoid; Spinal Fractures; Health Assessment Questionaire
20.  Liver X receptors alpha gene (NR1H3) promoter polymorphisms are associated with systemic lupus erythematosus in Koreans 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(3):R112.
Liver X receptors are established sensors of lipid and cholesterol homeostasis. Recent studies have reported that these receptors are involved in the regulation of inflammation and immune responses. We attempted to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the NR1H3 gene associated with the susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
SNPs were genotyped using SNaPSHOT assay in 300 Korean patients with SLE and 217 normal controls (NC), and in replication samples (160 SLE patients and 143 NC). Also, the functional effects of NR1H3 gene promoter polymorphisms were analyzed using a luciferase assay, real-time polymerase chain reaction, B cell proliferation assay and an electrophoretic mobility shift assay.
We identified five polymorphisms: -1851 T > C (rs3758673), -1830 T > C (rs3758674), -1003 G > A (new), -840 C > A (rs61896015) and -115 G > A (rs12221497). There was a significant and reproducible difference in the -1830 T > C, -1003 G > A and -115 G > A polymorphisms between the SLE and the NC. Luciferase activity of the structure containing -1830 C was less enhanced compared to the structure containing -1830 T in basal, GW3965 and T0901317 treated Hep3B cells (P = 0.009, P = 0.034 and P <0.001, respectively). Proliferation of the -1830 TC type was increased compared to the -1830 TT type in basal, GW3965 and T0901317 treated B cells from SLE patients (P = 0.011, P = 0.040 and P = 0.017, respectively). Transcription factor GATA-3 preferentially bound the -1830 T allele in the promoter.
NR1H3 genetic polymorphisms may be associated with disease susceptibility and clinical manifestations of SLE. Specifically, -1830 T > C polymorphism within NR1H3 promoter region may be involved in regulation of NR1H3 expression.
PMCID: PMC4095571  PMID: 24886807
21.  Cancer risk in systemic lupus: An updated international multi-centre cohort study 
Journal of autoimmunity  2013;42:130-135.
To update estimates of cancer risk in SLE relative to the general population.
A multisite international SLE cohort was linked with regional tumor registries. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated as the ratio of observed to expected cancers.
Across 30 centres, 16,409 patients were observed for 121,283 (average 7.4) person-years. In total, 644 cancers occurred. Some cancers, notably hematologic malignancies, were substantially increased (SIR 3.02, 95% confidence interval, CI, 2.48, 3.63), particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, NHL (SIR 4.39, 95% CI 3.46, 5.49) and leukemia. In addition, increased risks of cancer of the vulva (SIR 3.78, 95% CI 1.52, 7.78), lung (SIR 1.30, 95% CI 1.04, 1.60), thyroid (SIR 1.76, 95% CI 1.13, 2.61) and possibly liver (SIR 1.87, 95% CI 0.97, 3.27) were suggested. However, a decreased risk was estimated for breast (SIR 0.73, 95% CI 0.61–0.88), endometrial (SIR 0.44, 95% CI 0.23–0.77), and possibly ovarian cancers (0.64, 95% CI 0.34–1.10). The variability of comparative rates across different cancers meant that only a small increased risk was estimated across all cancers (SIR 1.14, 95% CI 1.05, 1.23).
These data estimate only a small increased risk in SLE (versus the general population) for cancer over-all. However, there is clearly an increased risk of NHL, and cancers of the vulva, lung, thyroid, and possibly liver. It remains unclear to what extent the association with NHL is mediated by innate versus exogenous factors. Similarly, the etiology of the decreased breast, endometrial, and possibly ovarian cancer risk is uncertain, though investigations are ongoing.
PMCID: PMC3646904  PMID: 23410586
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Epidemiology; Treatment; Disease Activity
22.  The Role of Bone Scintigraphy in the Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis According to the 2010 ACR/EULAR Classification Criteria 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2014;29(2):204-209.
We aimed to investigate the role of bone scintigraphy (BS) in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as a supplement to the 2010 American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria. A total of 156 patients who underwent BS with screening laboratory to confirm RA were enrolled. We divided them into two groups according to the presence of arthritis upon the first physical examination, and evaluated the diagnostic validity of BS as an independent (BS only) or assistant diagnostic tool using the 2010 criteria (BS-assisted). Seventy-five patients had active arthritis (Group I), while the remaining 81 patients did not (Group II). Among them, 56 patients in group I and 5 patients in group II were finally classified as RA. In the group I patients who were eligible for application of the 2010 criteria, the sensitivity of the BS only and BS-assisted diagnosis was not superior to that of the 2010 criteria. However, BS-assisted diagnosis showed high positive prediction values in group I patients with 2010 criteria score < 6 and group II patients. Therefore, BS is still helpful to detect RA even after the introduction of the 2010 criteria, especially among patients who do not satisfy the 2010 criteria as well as those who are ineligible for the 2010 criteria due to dubitable arthritis at clinical presentation.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC3923998  PMID: 24550646
Arthritis, Rheumatoid; 2010 ACR/EULAR Classification Criteria; Bone Scintigraphy
23.  Two Independent Functional Risk Haplotypes in TNIP1 are Associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3695-3705.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3485412  PMID: 22833143
24.  Preferential Binding to Elk-1 by SLE-Associated IL10 Risk Allele Upregulates IL10 Expression 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003870.
Immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) is elevated in sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) correlating with disease activity. The established association of IL10 with SLE and other autoimmune diseases led us to fine map causal variant(s) and to explore underlying mechanisms. We assessed 19 tag SNPs, covering the IL10 gene cluster including IL19, IL20 and IL24, for association with SLE in 15,533 case and control subjects from four ancestries. The previously reported IL10 variant, rs3024505 located at 1 kb downstream of IL10, exhibited the strongest association signal and was confirmed for association with SLE in European American (EA) (P = 2.7×10−8, OR = 1.30), but not in non-EA ancestries. SNP imputation conducted in EA dataset identified three additional SLE-associated SNPs tagged by rs3024505 (rs3122605, rs3024493 and rs3024495 located at 9.2 kb upstream, intron 3 and 4 of IL10, respectively), and SLE-risk alleles of these SNPs were dose-dependently associated with elevated levels of IL10 mRNA in PBMCs and circulating IL-10 protein in SLE patients and controls. Using nuclear extracts of peripheral blood cells from SLE patients for electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we identified specific binding of transcription factor Elk-1 to oligodeoxynucleotides containing the risk (G) allele of rs3122605, suggesting rs3122605 as the most likely causal variant regulating IL10 expression. Elk-1 is known to be activated by phosphorylation and nuclear localization to induce transcription. Of interest, phosphorylated Elk-1 (p-Elk-1) detected only in nuclear extracts of SLE PBMCs appeared to increase with disease activity. Co-expression levels of p-Elk-1 and IL-10 were elevated in SLE T, B cells and monocytes, associated with increased disease activity in SLE B cells, and were best downregulated by ERK inhibitor. Taken together, our data suggest that preferential binding of activated Elk-1 to the IL10 rs3122605-G allele upregulates IL10 expression and confers increased risk for SLE in European Americans.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a debilitating autoimmune disease characterized by the production of pathogenic autoantibodies, has a strong genetic basis. Variants of the IL10 gene, which encodes cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) with known function of promoting B cell hyperactivity and autoantibody production, are associated with SLE and other autoimmune diseases, and serum IL-10 levels are elevated in SLE patients correlating with increased disease activity. In this study, to discover SLE-predisposing causal variant(s), we assessed variants within the genomic region containing IL10 and its gene family member IL19, IL20 and IL24 for association with SLE in case and control subjects from diverse ancestries. We identified SLE-associated SNP rs3122605 located at 9.2 kb upstream of IL10 as the most likely causal variant in subjects of European ancestry. The SLE-risk allele of rs3122605 was dose-dependently associated with elevated IL10 expression at both mRNA and protein levels in peripheral blood samples from SLE patients and controls, which could be explained, at least in part, by its preferential binding to Elk-1, a transcription factor activated in B cells during active disease of SLE patients. Elk-1-mediated IL-10 overexpression could be downregulated by inhibiting activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, suggesting a potential therapeutic target for SLE.
PMCID: PMC3794920  PMID: 24130510
25.  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.
PMCID: PMC3737240  PMID: 23950893

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