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1.  Genetic Association of CD247 (CD3ζ) with SLE in a Large-Scale Multiethnic Study 
Genes and immunity  2015;16(2):142-150.
A classic T-cell phenotype in Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the downregulation and replacement of the CD3ζ chain that alters TCR signaling. However, genetic associations with SLE in the human CD247 locus that encodes CD3ζ are not well established and require replication in independent cohorts. Our aim was therefore to examine, localize and validate CD247-SLE association in a large multi-ethnic population. We typed 44 contiguous CD247 SNPs in 8 922 SLE patients and 8 077 controls from four ethnically distinct populations. The strongest associations were found in the Asian population (11 SNPs in intron 1, 4.99×10−4
PMCID: PMC4371129  PMID: 25569266
Biometrics  2014;70(3):742-750.
Estimating the effectiveness of a new intervention is usually the primary objective for HIV prevention trials. The Cox proportional hazard model is mainly used to estimate effectiveness by assuming that participants share the same risk under the covariates and the risk is always non-zero. In fact, the risk is only non-zero when an exposure event occurs, and participants can have a varying risk to transmit due to varying patterns of exposure events. Therefore, we propose a novel estimate of effectiveness adjusted for the heterogeneity in the magnitude of exposure among the study population, using a latent Poisson process model for the exposure path of each participant. Moreover, our model considers the scenario in which a proportion of participants never experience an exposure event and adopts a zero-inflated distribution for the rate of the exposure process. We employ a Bayesian estimation approach to estimate the exposure-adjusted effectiveness eliciting the priors from the historical information. Simulation studies are carried out to validate the approach and explore the properties of the estimates. An application example is presented from an HIV prevention trial.
PMCID: PMC4239192  PMID: 24845658
Hierarchical models; HIV prevention; Intercourse; Markov chain Monte Carlo; Per-exposure effectiveness; Zero-inflated gamma
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0128857.
Women in sub-Saharan Africa are a priority population for evaluation of new biomedical HIV-1 prevention strategies. Antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis is a promising prevention approach; however, clinical trials among young women using daily or coitally-dependent products have found low adherence. Antiretroviral-containing vaginal microbicide rings, which release medication over a month or longer, may reduce these adherence challenges.
ASPIRE (A Study to Prevent Infection with a Ring for Extended Use) is a phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial testing the safety and effectiveness of a vaginal ring containing the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor dapivirine for prevention of HIV-1 infection. We describe the baseline characteristics of African women enrolled in the ASPIRE trial.
Between August 2012 and June 2014, 5516 women were screened and 2629 HIV-1 seronegative women between 18–45 years of age were enrolled from 15 research sites in Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The median age was 26 years (IQR 22–31) and the majority (59%) were unmarried. Nearly 100% of participants reported having a primary sex partner in the prior three months but 43% did not know the HIV-1 status of their primary partner; 17% reported additional concurrent partners. Nearly two-thirds (64%) reported having disclosed to primary partners about planned vaginal ring use in the trial. Sexually transmitted infections were prevalent: 12% had Chlamydia trachomatis, 7% Trichomonas vaginalis, 4% Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and 1% syphilis.
African HIV-1 seronegative women at risk of HIV -1 infection were successfully enrolled into a phase III trial of dapivirine vaginal ring for HIV-1 prevention.
PMCID: PMC4489588  PMID: 26061040
Constantly evolving technology and techniques within radiation therapy require practitioners to maintain a continuous approach to professional development and training. Systems of performance appraisal and adoption of regular feedback mechanisms are vital to support this development yet frequently lack structure and rely on informal peer support.
A Radiation Therapy Performance Appraisal Framework (RT-PAF) for radiation therapists in planning and simulation was developed to define expectations of practice and promote a supportive and objective culture of performance and skills appraisal. Evaluation of the framework was conducted via an anonymous online survey tool. Nine peer reviewers and fourteen recipients provided feedback on its effectiveness and the challenges and limitations of the approach.
Findings from the evaluation were positive and suggested that both groups gained benefit from and expressed a strong interest in embedding the approach more routinely. Respondents identified common challenges related to the limited ability to implement suggested development strategies; this was strongly associated with time and rostering issues.
This framework successfully defined expectations for practice and provided a fair and objective feedback process that focussed on skills development. It empowered staff to maintain their skills and reach their professional potential. Management support, particularly in regard to provision of protected time was highlighted as critical to the framework's ongoing success. The demonstrated benefits arising in terms of staff satisfaction and development highlight the importance of this commitment to the modern radiation therapy workforce.
PMCID: PMC4462983
Benchmarking; evaluation; feedback; performance appraisal; radiation therapy
To investigate whether the FcγRIIIa-66R/H/L polymorphism influences net effective receptor function and to assess if the FCGR3A combined genotypes formed by FcγRIIIa-66R/H/L and FcγRIIIa-176F/V as well as copy number variation (CNV) confer risk for development of SLE and lupus nephritis.
FcγRIIIa variants, expressed on A20 IIA1.6 cells, were used in flow cytometry-based human IgG binding assays. FCGR3A SNP and CNV genotypes were determined by Pyrosequencing methodology in a cohort of 1728 SLE patients and 2404 healthy controls.
The FcγRIIIa-66L/H/R (rs10127939) polymorphism influences ligand binding capacity in the context of the FcγRIIIa-176V (rs396991) allele. The low binding FcγRIIIa-176F allele was associated with SLE nephritis (p = 0.0609) in African Americans but not in European Americans (p > 0.10). Nephritis among African American SLE subjects was associated with FcγRIIIa low binding haplotypes containing the 66R/H/L and 176F variants (p = 0.03) and with low binding genotype combinations (p = 0.002). No association was observed in European American SLE patients. The distribution of FCGR3A CNV was not significantly different between controls and SLE patients with or without nephritis.
FcγRIIIa-66R/H/L influences ligand binding. The low binding haplotypes formed by 66R/H/L and 176F confer enhanced risk for lupus nephritis in African Americans. FCGR3A CNVs are not associated with SLE or SLE nephritis in either African Americans or European Americans.
PMCID: PMC4069204  PMID: 24782186
HPTN 046 compared the efficacy and safety of infant nevirapine (NVP) among HIV-exposed breastfed infants randomized at 6 weeks to 6 months to t NVP or placebo to prevent postnatal infection: we report final 18 month outcomes.
Randomized, placebo-controlled trial in four African countries. Infant diagnostic HIV testing was done regularly from birth, through 18 months. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to assess 18 month cumulative infant HIV infection, HIV infection/or death and mortality rates.
Between 6 weeks and 6 months, postnatal HIV infection rates were significantly lower, among infants receiving daily NVP from 6 weeks to 6 months 1.1% (95% CI 0.2-1.8%), compared to placebo: 2.4% (95% CI 1.3-2.6%), p=0.049; but not significantly lower thereafter. Eighteen month postnatal infection rates were low: 2.2% [95% CI 1.1-3.3%] versus 3.1% [95% CI 1.9-4.4%], respectively, p=0.28. Mortality and HIV infection/death did not differ between arms at any age. Infants of women receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) for their own health had the lowest 18 month postnatal infection rates (0.5%, 95% CI 0.0-1.1%). However, HIV infection/death rates at 18 months were not significantly different for infants of mothers on ART (3.7%, 95% CI 1.9-5.5%); and infants of mothers with CD4 >350/mm3 not receiving ART (4.8%, 95% CI 2.7-6.8%), (p=0.46). There were no differences in adverse events between study arms.
This trial demonstrated early but not late differences in postnatal HIV transmission among infants randomized at age six weeks to extended NVP or placebo, underscoring the importance of continued prophylaxis throughout breastfeeding.
PMCID: PMC3945386  PMID: 24189151
nevirapine; infant HIV prophylaxis; PMTCT
Primary leiomyosarcoma (LMS) of the renal vein is a rare tumour and poorly described in the literature. Surgical resection, using open and laparoscopic approaches, is the mainstay of treatment. In this report, we describe a patient with left renal vein LMS, report the first robotic laparoscopic resection for this tumor, and review the typical presentation, imaging, pathology and treatment for this rare clinical entity.
PMCID: PMC4455643  PMID: 26085883
There are limited data on prognostic utility of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) release assays (IGRAs) for active tuberculosis (TB) among HIV-1 infected individuals.
Samples from a perinatal cohort of HIV-1 infected women in Kenya, obtained during pregnancy were tested using T-SPOT.TB IGRAs to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB)-specific IFN-γ responses. IFN-γ (cut-off values>0, ≥6 and ≥10 spot forming cells/well (SFCs/well)) and CD4 cell count (cut-off values<250 and <350 cells/μL) were evaluated for sensitivity and specificity using a time dependent receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve and positive predictive value (PPV) using Kaplan Meier method for future TB within one year postpartum.
Of 327 women, 9 developed TB within one year postpartum (Incidence rate (IR): 3.5/100 person-years of follow-up (pyfu); 95% confidence interval: 1.6–6.7/100 pyfu). IFN-γ≥6 SFCs/well was associated with an optimal trade-off between sensitivity (78%) and specificity (55%) and PPV of 5.9%. In women with CD4<250 cells/μL, sensitivity and specificity of IFN-γ≥6 SFCs/well were 89% and 63%, respectively and PPV was 19.2%.
Among HIV-1 infected women, IFN-γ response (≥6 SFCs/well) during pregnancy lacked high positive predictive value for postpartum TB but had higher sensitivity and positive predictive value among immunosuppressed women (CD4<250 cells/μL).
PMCID: PMC4339676  PMID: 24200267
TB IGRA; Predictive value; Sensitivity; Specificity; HIV-infected women
Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) is ideal for anal canal cancer (ACC), delivering high doses to irregular tumour volumes whilst minimising dose to surrounding normal tissues. Establishing achievable dose objectives is a challenge. The purpose of this paper was to utilise data collected in the Assessment of New Radiation Oncology Treatments and Technologies (ANROTAT) project to evaluate the feasibility of ACC IMRT dose planning objectives employed in the Australian situation.
Ten Australian centres were randomly allocated three data sets from 15 non-identifiable computed tomography data sets representing a range of disease stages and gender. Each data set was planned by two different centres, producing 30 plans. All tumour and organ at risk (OAR) contours, prescription and dose constraint details were provided. Dose–volume histograms (DVHs) for each plan were analysed to evaluate the feasibility of dose planning objectives provided.
All dose planning objectives for the bone marrow (BM) and femoral heads were achieved. Median planned doses exceeded one or more objectives for bowel, external genitalia and bladder. This reached statistical significance for bowel V30 (P = 0.04), V45 (P < 0.001), V50 (P < 0.001), external genitalia V20 (P < 0.001) and bladder V35 (P < 0.001), V40 (P = 0.01). Gender was found to be the only significant factor in the likelihood of achieving the bowel V50 (P = 0.03) and BM V30 constraints (P = 0.04).
The dose planning objectives used in the ANROTAT project provide a good starting point for ACC IMRT planning. To facilitate clinical implementation, it is important to prioritise OAR objectives and recognise factors that affect the achievability of these objectives.
PMCID: PMC4462981
Anal canal; anus neoplasms; intensity; modulated; radiation oncology; radiotherapy
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0115528.
Randomized clinical trials of HIV prevention in high-risk populations of women often assume that all participants have similar exposure to HIV. However, a substantial fraction of women enrolled in the trial may have no or low exposure to HIV. Our objective was to estimate the proportion of women exposed to HIV throughout a hypothetical high-risk study population.
A stochastic individual-based model was developed to simulate the sexual behavior and the risk of HIV acquisition for a cohort of sexually active HIV-uninfected women in high HIV prevalence settings. Key behavior and epidemic assumptions in the model were based on published studies on HIV transmission in South Africa. The prevalence of exposure, defined as the proportion of women who have sex with HIV-infected partner, and HIV incidence were evaluated.
Our model projects that in communities with HIV incidence rate of 1 per 100 person years, only 5-6% of women are exposed to HIV annually while in communities with an HIV incidence of 5 per 100 person years 20-25% of women are exposed to HIV. Approximately 70% of the new infections are acquired from partners with asymptomatic HIV.
Mathematical models suggest that a high proportion of women enrolled in HIV prevention trials may be unexposed to HIV even when incidence rates are high. The relationship between HIV exposure and other risk factors should be carefully analyzed when future clinical trials are planned.
PMCID: PMC4287619  PMID: 25569838
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
Genes and immunity  2014;15(5):275-281.
Multiple MHC loci encoding human leukocyte antigens (HLA) have allelic variants unequivocally associated with differential immune control of HIV-1 infection. Fine mapping based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the extended MHC (xMHC) region is expected to reveal causal or novel factors and to justify a search for functional mechanisms. We have tested the utility of a custom fine-mapping platform (the ImmunoChip) for 172 HIV-1 seroconverters (SCs) and 449 seroprevalent individuals (SPs) from Lusaka, Zambia, with a focus on more than 6,400 informative xMHC SNPs. When conditioned on HLA and non-genetic factors previously associated with HIV-1 viral load (VL) in the study cohort, penalized approaches (HyperLasso models) identified an intergenic SNP (rs3094626 between RPP21 and HLA-E) and an intronic SNP (rs3134931 in NOTCH4) as novel correlates of early set-point VL in SCs. The minor allele of rs2857114 (downstream from HLA-DOB) was an unfavorable factor in SPs. Joint models based on demographic features, HLA alleles and the newly identified SNP variants could explain 29% and 15% of VL variance in SCs and SPs, respectively. These findings and bioinformatics strongly suggest that both classic and non-classic MHC genes deserve further investigation, especially in Africans with relatively short haplotype blocks.
PMCID: PMC4111776  PMID: 24784026
HIV-1; HLA; human MHC; SNP; viral load
Members of the P4 subfamily of P-type ATPases are thought to create and maintain lipid asymmetry in biological membranes by flipping specific lipids between membrane leaflets. In Arabidopsis, 7 of the 12 Aminophospholipid ATPase (ALA) family members are expressed in pollen. Here we show that double knockout of ALA6 and ALA7 (ala6/7) results in siliques with a ~2-fold reduction in seed set with a high frequency of empty seed positions near the bottom. Seed set was reduced to near zero when plants were grown under a hot/cold temperature stress. Reciprocal crosses indicate that the ala6/7 reproductive deficiencies are due to a defect related to pollen transmission. In-vitro growth assays provide evidence that ala6/7 pollen tubes are short and slow, with ~2-fold reductions in both maximal growth rate and overall length relative to wild-type. Outcrosses show that when ala6/7 pollen are in competition with wild-type pollen, they have a near 0% success rate in fertilizing ovules near the bottom of the pistil, consistent with ala6/7 pollen having short and slow growth defects. The ala6/7 phenotypes were rescued by the expression of either an ALA6-YFP or GFP-ALA6 fusion protein, which showed localization to both the plasma membrane and highly-mobile endomembrane structures. A mass spectrometry analysis of mature pollen grains revealed significant differences between ala6/7 and wild-type, both in the relative abundance of lipid classes and in the average number of double bonds present in acyl side chains. A change in the properties of the ala6/7 plasma membrane was also indicated by a ~10-fold reduction of labeling by lipophilic FM-dyes relative to wild-type. Together, these results indicate that ALA6 and ALA7 provide redundant activities that function to directly or indirectly change the distribution and abundance of lipids in pollen, and support a model in which ALA6 and ALA7 are critical for pollen fitness under normal and temperature-stress conditions.
PMCID: PMC4404812  PMID: 25954280
pollen; temperature stress tolerance; lipid flippases; phosphatidic acid; phosphatidylinositol
Thrombosis is a serious complication of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Studies that have investigated the genetics of thrombosis in SLE are limited. We undertook this study to assess the association of previously implicated candidate genes, particularly Toll-like receptor (TLR) genes, with pathogenesis of thrombosis.
We genotyped 3,587 SLE patients from 3 multiethnic populations for 77 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 10 genes, primarily in TLRs 2, 4, 7, and 9, and we also genotyped 64 ancestry-informative markers (AIMs). We first analyzed association with arterial and venous thrombosis in the combined population via logistic regression, adjusting for top principal components of the AIMs and other covariates. We also subjected an associated SNP, rs893629, to meta-analysis (after stratification by ethnicity and study population) to confirm the association and to test for study population or ethnicity effects.
In the combined analysis, the SNP rs893629 in the KIAA0922/TLR2 region was significantly associated with arterial thrombosis (logistic P = 6.4 × 10−5, false discovery rate P = 0.0044). Two additional SNPs in TLR2 were also suggestive: rs1816702 (logistic P = 0.002) and rs4235232 (logistic P = 0.009). In the meta-analysis by study population, the odds ratio (OR) for arterial thrombosis with rs893629 was 2.44 (95% confidence interval 1.58–3.76), without evidence for heterogeneity (P = 0.78). By ethnicity, the effect was most significant among African Americans (OR 2.42, P = 3.5 × 10−4) and European Americans (OR 3.47, P = 0.024).
TLR2 gene variation is associated with thrombosis in SLE, particularly among African Americans and European Americans. There was no evidence of association among Hispanics, and results in Asian Americans were limited due to insufficient sample size. These results may help elucidate the pathogenesis of this important clinical manifestation.
PMCID: PMC4269184  PMID: 24578102
The goal of this study was to compare the effectiveness of fish oil, fenofibrate, gemfibrozil, and atorvastatin on reducing triglyceride (TG) levels among a large cohort of HIV-infected patients in clinical care.
Retrospective observational cohort study
The primary endpoint was absolute change in TG levels measured using the last TG value pre-treatment and the first TG value post-treatment. A pre-post quasi-experimental design was used to estimate the change in TG due to initiating fish oil. Linear regression models examined the comparative effectiveness of treatment with fish oil versus gemfibrozil, fenofibrate, or atorvastatin for TG reduction. Models were adjusted for baseline differences in age, sex, race, CD4+ cell count, diabetes, body mass index, protease inhibitor use, and time between TG measures.
A total of 493 patients (mean age 46 years; 95% male) were included (46 receiving gemfibrozil, 80 fenofibrate, 291 atorvastatin, 76 fish oil) with a mean baseline TG of 347 mg/dL. New use of fish oil decreased TG (ΔTG -45 mg/dL 95% Confidence interval (CI):-80 to -11) in the pre-post study. Compared with fish oil (reference), fibrates were more effective (ΔTG -66; 95% CI:-120 to -12) in reducing TG levels, whereas atorvastatin was not (ΔTG -39; 95% CI:-86 to 9).
In HIV-infected patients in routine clinical care, fish oil is less effective than fibrates (but not atorvastatin) at lowering triglyceride values. Fish oil may still represent an attractive alternative for patients with moderately elevated triglycerides particularly among patients who may not want or tolerate fibrates.
PMCID: PMC4112457  PMID: 23892238
fish oil; triglycerides; dyslipidemia; fibrates; HIV
Starting lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) in HIV-infected pregnant women may decrease HIV progression and transmission but adherence after delivery may be difficult, especially for asymptomatic women. We evaluated disease progression among HIV-infected women not on ART with CD4+ lymphocyte counts above 200 cells/uL at delivery.
We analysed risk of death, progression to AIDS (stage IV or CD4 < 200 cells/uL), or to CD4+ count < 350 one year after delivery among postpartum women enrolled to a prevention of breastfeeding transmission trial using Kaplan-Meier methods. In the primary analysis, women were censored if ART was initiated.
Among 1285 women who were < WHO stage IV at 6 weeks postpartum, 49 (4.3%) progressed to stage IV/CD4 < 200 cells/uL or death by one year. Progression to CD4 < 200 or death occurred among 16 (4.3%) of 441 women with CD4 count of 350–549 and 10 (1.6%) of 713 with CD4 counts > 550 at delivery. CD4 < 350 by 12 months postpartum occurred among 116 (37.0%) of 350 women with CD4 count 400–549 and 48 (7.4%) of 713 > 550 at delivery.
Progression to AIDS or CD4 count < 350 is uncommon through one year postpartum for women with CD4 counts over 550 at delivery, but occurred in over one third of those with CD4 counts under 550. ART should be continued after delivery or breastfeeding among women with CD4 counts < 550 if follow up and ARV adherence can be maintained.
PMCID: PMC3800257  PMID: 23846568
HIV; postpartum; disease progression
Kidney international  2014;85(5):1030-1038.
The haploid human genome is composed of three billion base pairs, about one percent of which consists of exonic regions, the coding sequence for functional proteins, also now known as the “exome”. The development of next-generation sequencing makes it possible from a technical and economic standpoint to sequence an individual’s exome but at the cost of generating long lists of gene variants that are not straightforward to interpret. Various public consortiums such as the 1000 Genomes Project and the NHLBI Exome Sequencing Project have sequenced the exomes and a subset of entire genomes of over 2500 control individuals with ongoing efforts to further catalogue genetic variation in humans.1 The use of these public databases facilitates the interpretation of these variant lists produced by exome sequencing and, as a result, novel genetic variants linked to disease are being discovered and reported at a record rate. However, the interpretation of these results and their bearing on diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment is becoming ever more complicated. Here, we discuss the application of genetic testing to individuals with focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), taking a historical perspective on gene identification and its clinical implications along with the growing potential of next-generation sequencing.
PMCID: PMC4118212  PMID: 24599252
Journal of community health  2014;39(5):943-950.
This study examined demographic and lifestyle factors that influenced decisions and obstacles to being screened for breast cancer in low-income African Americans in three urban Tennessee cities. As part of the Meharry Community Networks Program (CNP) needs assessment, a 123-item community survey was administered to assess demographic characteristics, health care access and utilization, and screening practices for various cancers in low-income African Americans. For this study, only African American women 40 years and older (n=334) were selected from the Meharry CNP community survey database. There were several predictors of breast cancer screening such as marital status and having health insurance (P< .05). Additionally, there were associations between obstacles to screening and geographic region such as transportation and not having enough information about screenings (P< .05). Educational interventions aimed at improving breast cancer knowledge and screening rates should incorporate information about obstacles and predictors to screening.
PMCID: PMC4165808  PMID: 24554393
Nature genetics  2007;39(6):733-740.
Allotypes of the natural killer (NK) cell receptor KIR3DL1 vary in both NK cell expression patterns and inhibitory capacity upon binding to their ligands, HLA-B Bw4 molecules, present on target cells. Using a sample size of over 1,500 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)+ individuals, we show that various distinct allelic combinations of the KIR3DL1 and HLA-B loci significantly and strongly influence both AIDS progression and plasma HIV RNA abundance in a consistent manner. These genetic data correlate very well with previously defined functional differences that distinguish KIR3DL1 allotypes. The various epistatic effects observed here for common, distinct KIR3DL1 and HLA-B Bw4 combinations are unprecedented with regard to any pair of genetic loci in human disease, and indicate that NK cells may have a critical role in the natural history of HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC4135476  PMID: 17496894
The pharmacogenomics journal  2013;14(1):48-53.
Methotrexate (MTX) has emerged as first-line therapy for early moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but individual variation in treatment response remains unexplained. We tested the associations between 863 known pharmacogenetic variants and MTX response in 471 TEAR Trial participants with early RA. Efficacy and toxicity were modeled using multiple regression, adjusted for demographic and clinical covariates. Penalized regression models were used to test joint associations of markers and/or covariates with the outcomes. The strongest genetic associations with efficacy were in CHST11 (five markers with P <0.003), encoding carbohydrate (chondroitin 4) sulfotransferase 11. Top markers associated with MTX toxicity were in the cytochrome p450 genes CYP20A1 and CYP39A1, solute carrier genes SLC22A2 and SLC7A7, and the mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase gene ALDH2. The selected markers explained a consistently higher proportion of variation in toxicity than efficacy. These findings could inform future development of personalized therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3701736  PMID: 23545897
Methotrexate; rheumatoid arthritis; pharmacogenetics
Lupus  2010;19(11):1331-1336.
To characterize the clinical features of familial lupus, and determine its influence on damage accrual and survival using data from LUMINA, a longitudinal multiethnic US cohort.
Familial lupus was defined as patients with a first degree relative with SLE. Relative risks were estimated by logistic regression; odds ratios (OR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) were the measure of association for familial lupus. Hazard Ratios (HR) were calculated using Cox proportional hazard adjusted for potential confounders for damage and survival.
Thirty-two of 644 patients had familial and 612 had sporadic lupus; both groups were of comparable age (~ 36 years). Familial lupus patients were in decreasing order of frequency siblings, parents and children. In multivariable analyses, mucosal ulcers (OR=1.92, 95% CI 0.65–5.70), mitral valve prolapse (OR=1.74, 95% CI 0.50–6.10), cerebrovascular disease (OR=4.18, 95% CI 0.98–17.76) and oral contraceptive use (ever/never; OR=2.51, 95% CI 0.88–7.19) were more likely in familial lupus but a history of low platelet count (<150,000/mm3; OR=0.31, 95% CI 0.08–1.17) and pulmonary disease activity (OR=0.39, 95% CI 0.14–1.20) were less likely. However, none of these associations reached statistical significance. Familial lupus was not significantly associated with a shorter time to either damage accrual or death (HR=0.77, 95% CI 0.37–1.59, p = 0.4746 and HR=0.20, 95% CI 0.03–1.47, p = 0.2020, respectively).
Although some clinical differences were observed in patients with familial and sporadic lupus, familial lupus was not associated with a significantly greater disease burden (damage, survival) than sporadic lupus.
PMCID: PMC4078734  PMID: 20696771
familial lupus; lupus; sporadic lupus; LUMINA; multiethnic cohort
Science translational medicine  2013;5(216):216ra175.
B cells are pivotal regulators of acquired immune responses and recent work in both experimental murine models and humans has demonstrated that subtle changes in the regulation of B cell function can significantly alter immunological responses. The balance of negative and positive signals in maintaining an appropriate B cell activation threshold is critical in B lymphocyte immune tolerance and autoreactivity. FcγRIIb (CD32B), the only recognized Fcγ receptor on B cells, provides IgG-mediated negative modulation through a tyrosine-based inhibition motif which down-regulates B cell receptor initiated signaling. These properties make FcγRIIb a promising target for antibody-based therapy. Here we report the discovery of allele-dependent expression of the activating FcγRIIc on B cells. Identical to FcγRIIb in the extracellular domain, FcγRIIc has a tyrosine-based activation motif in its cytoplasmic domain. In both human B cells and in B cells from mice transgenic for human FcγRIIc, FcγRIIc expression counterbalances the negative feedback of FcγRIIb and enhances humoral responses to immunization in mice and to BioThrax® vaccination in a human Anthrax vaccine trial. Moreover, the FCGR2C-ORF allele is associated with the risk of development of autoimmunity in humans. FcγRIIc expression on B cells challenges the prevailing paradigm of uni-directional negative feedback by IgG immune complexes via the inhibitory FcγRIIb, is a previously unrecognized determinant in human antibody/autoantibody responses, and opens the opportunity for more precise personalized use of B cell targeted antibody-based therapy.
PMCID: PMC3982386  PMID: 24353158
Educational psychology review  2013;25(2):211-243.
The contributing role of stereotype threat (ST) to learning and performance decrements for stigmatized students in highly evaluative situations has been vastly documented and is now widely known by educators and policy makers. However, recent research illustrates that underrepresented and stigmatized students’ academic and career motivations are influenced by ST more broadly, particularly through influences on achievement orientations, sense of belonging, and intrinsic motivation. Such a focus moves conceptualizations of ST effects in education beyond the influence on a student’s performance, skill level, and feelings of self-efficacy per se to experiencing greater belonging uncertainty and lower interest in stereotyped tasks and domains. These negative experiences are associated with important outcomes such as decreased persistence and domain identification, even among students who are high in achievement motivation. In this vein, we present and review support for the Motivational Experience Model of ST, a self-regulatory model framework for integrating research on ST, achievement goals, sense of belonging, and intrinsic motivation to make predictions for how stigmatized students’ motivational experiences are maintained or disrupted, particularly over long periods of time.
PMCID: PMC3719418  PMID: 23894223
stereotype; stereotype threat; motivation; self-regulation; interest; belonging
Circulation research  2013;112(11):10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.112.300821.
The Dorsal Mesenchymal Protrusion (DMP) is a prong of mesenchyme derived from the Second Heart Field (SHF) located at the venous pole of the developing heart. Recent studies have shown that perturbation of its development is associated with the pathogenesis of atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD). Although the importance of the DMP to AV septation is now established, the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying its development are far from fully understood. Prior studies have demonstrated that bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling is essential for proper formation of the AV endocardial cushions and the cardiac outflow tract. A role for BMP signaling in regulation of DMP development remained to be elucidated.
To determine the role of BMP signaling in DMP development.
Methods and Results
Conditional deletion of the BMP receptor Alk3 from venous pole SHF cells leads to impaired formation of the DMP and a completely penetrant phenotype of ostium primum defect, a hallmark feature of AVSDs. Analysis of mutants revealed decreased proliferative index of SHF cells and, consequently, reduced number of SHF cells at the cardiac venous pole. In contrast, volume and expression of markers associated with proliferation and active BMP/TGFβ signaling was not significantly altered in the AV cushions of SHF-Alk3 mutants.
BMP signaling is required for expansion of the SHF-derived DMP progenitor population at the cardiac venous pole. Perturbation of Alk3-mediated BMP signaling from the SHF results in impaired development of the DMP and ostium primum defects.
PMCID: PMC3822333  PMID: 23584254
Open Forum Infectious Diseases  2014;1(1):ofu016.
The immunogenicity results from 3 phase I trials of the Merck DNA human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine have previously been reported. Because preventive DNA vaccine strategies continue to be leveraged for diverse infections, the safety and tolerability results from these studies can inform the field moving forward, particularly regarding adverse reactions and adjuvants. No serious vaccine-related adverse events were reported during the 3-dose priming phase. Pain at the injection site was more common with adjuvanted formulations than with the phosphate-buffered saline diluent alone. Febrile reactions were usually low grade. Although the AlPO4 or CRL1005 adjuvants used in these studies did not significantly enhance the immunogenicity of the DNA vaccine, adverse events were numerically more common with adjuvanted formulations than without adjuvants.
PMCID: PMC4324197  PMID: 25734089
adjuvants; DNA plasmid vaccine; HIV; safety

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