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1.  Association of STAT4 Polymorphism with Severe Renal Insufficiency in Lupus Nephritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84450.
Lupus nephritis is a cause of significant morbidity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and its genetic background has not been completely clarified. The aim of this investigation was to analyze single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association with lupus nephritis, its severe form proliferative nephritis and renal outcome, in two Swedish cohorts. Cohort I (n = 567 SLE cases, n =  512 controls) was previously genotyped for 5676 SNPs and cohort II (n = 145 SLE cases, n = 619 controls) was genotyped for SNPs in STAT4, IRF5, TNIP1 and BLK.
Case-control and case-only association analyses for patients with lupus nephritis, proliferative nephritis and severe renal insufficiency were performed. In the case-control analysis of cohort I, four highly linked SNPs in STAT4 were associated with lupus nephritis with genome wide significance with p = 3.7×10−9, OR 2.20 for the best SNP rs11889341. Strong signals of association between IRF5 and an HLA-DR3 SNP marker were also detected in the lupus nephritis case versus healthy control analysis (p <0.0001). An additional six genes showed an association with lupus nephritis with p <0.001 (PMS2, TNIP1, CARD11, ITGAM, BLK and IRAK1). In the case-only meta-analysis of the two cohorts, the STAT4 SNP rs7582694 was associated with severe renal insufficiency with p  = 1.6×10−3 and OR 2.22. We conclude that genetic variations in STAT4 predispose to lupus nephritis and a worse outcome with severe renal insufficiency.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084450
PMCID: PMC3873995  PMID: 24386384
2.  Genetically Distinct Subsets within ANCA-Associated Vasculitis 
The New England journal of medicine  2012;367(3):214-223.
BACKGROUND
Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)–associated vasculitis is a severe condition encompassing two major syndromes: granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly known as Wegener’s granulomatosis) and microscopic polyangiitis. Its cause is unknown, and there is debate about whether it is a single disease entity and what role ANCA plays in its pathogenesis. We investigated its genetic basis.
METHODS
A genomewide association study was performed in a discovery cohort of 1233 U.K. patients with ANCA-associated vasculitis and 5884 controls and was replicated in 1454 Northern European case patients and 1666 controls. Quality control, population stratification, and statistical analyses were performed according to standard criteria.
RESULTS
We found both major-histocompatibility-complex (MHC) and non-MHC associations with ANCA-associated vasculitis and also that granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis were genetically distinct. The strongest genetic associations were with the antigenic specificity of ANCA, not with the clinical syndrome. Anti–proteinase 3 ANCA was associated with HLA-DP and the genes encoding α1-antitrypsin (SERPINA1) and proteinase 3 (PRTN3) (P = 6.2×10−89, P = 5.6×10−12, and P = 2.6×10−7, respectively). Anti–myeloperoxidase ANCA was associated with HLA-DQ (P = 2.1×10−8).
CONCLUSIONS
This study confirms that the pathogenesis of ANCA-associated vasculitis has a genetic component, shows genetic distinctions between granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis that are associated with ANCA specificity, and suggests that the response against the autoantigen proteinase 3 is a central pathogenic feature of proteinase 3 ANCA–associated vasculitis. These data provide preliminary support for the concept that proteinase 3 ANCA–associated vasculitis and myeloperoxidase ANCA–associated vasculitis are distinct autoimmune syndromes. (Funded by the British Heart Foundation and others.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1108735
PMCID: PMC3773907  PMID: 22808956
3.  A Research Study of the Association between Maternal Microchimerism and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Adults: A Comparison between Patients and Healthy Controls Based on Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism Using Quantitative Real-Time PCR 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74534.
Background
Naturally acquired microchimerism may arise in the mother and her child during pregnancy when bidirectional trafficking of cells occurs through the placental barrier. The occurrence of maternal microchimerism (maternal cells in the offspring) has been associated with several autoimmune diseases, especially in children. Systemic Lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder with a resemblance to graft-versus-host disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between maternal microchimerism in the blood and SLE.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Thirty-two patients with SLE, 17 healthy brothers of the patients, and an additional 12 unrelated healthy men were the subjects in this study. A single-nucleotide polymorphism unique to each mother was identified, and maternal microchimerism in the study group and in the control group was detected using a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction technique. No differences in the frequency or the concentration of maternal cells were apparent in the blood of patients with SLE or in that of the controls. Two patients and one control tested positive for maternal microchimerism, but the positive subjects were all negative at a follow-up 16 years later. The sensitivity of the method was estimated to 1/10.000.
Conclusions/Significance
These results show no association between SLE and maternal microchimerism. The frequency of maternal microchimerism in the blood of adults overall may be lower than earlier reported.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074534
PMCID: PMC3770650  PMID: 24040274
4.  Genes identified in Asian SLE GWASs are also associated with SLE in Caucasian populations 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) conducted in Asian populations have identified novel risk loci for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Here, we genotyped 10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in eight such loci and investigated their disease associations in three independent Caucasian SLE case–control cohorts recruited from Sweden, Finland and the United States. The disease associations of the SNPs in ETS1, IKZF1, LRRC18-WDFY4, RASGRP3, SLC15A4, TNIP1 and 16p11.2 were replicated, whereas no solid evidence of association was observed for the 7q11.23 locus in the Caucasian cohorts. SLC15A4 was significantly associated with renal involvement in SLE. The association of TNIP1 was more pronounced in SLE patients with renal and immunological disorder, which is corroborated by two previous studies in Asian cohorts. The effects of all the associated SNPs, either conferring risk for or being protective against SLE, were in the same direction in Caucasians and Asians. The magnitudes of the allelic effects for most of the SNPs were also comparable across different ethnic groups. On the contrary, remarkable differences in allele frequencies between Caucasian and Asian populations were observed for all associated SNPs. In conclusion, most of the novel SLE risk loci identified by GWASs in Asian populations were also associated with SLE in Caucasian populations. We observed both similarities and differences with respect to the effect sizes and risk allele frequencies across ethnicities.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.277
PMCID: PMC3746253  PMID: 23249952
systemic lupus erythematosus; genetic-association study; Asian; Caucasian
5.  Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF) and Thyroid Hormone Alterations in Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibody (ANCA)-Associated Vasculitis (AAV) 
Molecular Medicine  2013;19(1):109-114.
Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a proinflammatory cytokine known to be released from lymphocytes, macrophages and endothelial cells and also in animal models shown to be inducible with glucocorticoids (GC). In contrast, thyroxine seems to antagonize MIF activity. To investigate whether MIF is increased in active antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV) and possible correlations with GC dosing and thyroid hormone levels, 27 consecutive patients with active AAV were studied and followed prospectively. Disease activity was assessed using Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score 2003 (BVAS) at baseline and at follow-up at 3 and 6 months, along with MIF, thyroid hormones free triiodothyronine (fT3) and free thyroxine (fT4), C-reactive protein (CRP) and creatinine. MIF was elevated significantly at baseline compared with follow-up at 3 and 6 months (8,618 pg/mL versus 5,696 and 6,212 respectively; P < 0.002) but did not correlate to CRP, GC dose, creatinine or organ involvement. fT3 was depressed significantly at baseline compared with follow-up (1.99 pg/mL versus 2.31 and 2.67 respectively; P = 0.01) and correlated inversely to the BVAS score at baseline. We found a significant correlation between the MIF/fT4 ratio at baseline versus MIF/fT4 ratio at 6 months (ρ = 0.52, P < 0.005) and a trend between the baseline MIF/fT3 ratio versus MIF/fT3 ratio at 6 months (ρ = 0.39, P = 0.05). These results suggest a possible role for MIF and thyroid status in AAV. Further studies could reveal whether the association between AAV and thyroid hormone levels in the context of elevated MIF may present a link as well as a target of treatment.
doi:10.2119/molmed.2012.00352
PMCID: PMC3667215  PMID: 23552723
6.  Dual Effect of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor Gene on the Development and the Severity of Human Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(12):3942-3951.
Objective
To study the effect of the innate cytokine, MIF, on the susceptibility and the severity of SLE in a multinational population of Caucasian and African-American patients.
Methods
We studied the association between two functional polymorphisms in the MIF gene: a −794 CATT5-8 microsatellite repeat (rs5844572) and a −173 G/C SNP (rs755622), with SLE in 3195 patients and controls. We also measured MIF plasma levels in relation to genotypes, clinical phenotypes, and TLR 7-stimulated MIF production in vitro.
Results
Both Caucasians and African-Americans with the high expression, −794 CATT7/173*C haplotype had lower SLE incidence (OR 0.63 [0.53, 0.89], p=0.001 in Caucasians, and OR 0.46 [0.23, 0.95], p=0.012 in African-Americans). By contrast, among patients with established SLE, those with nephritis, serositis, and CNS involvement had reduced frequencies of low expression MIF genotypes (−794 CATT5) when compared to patients without end-organ involvement (p=0.005 for serositis, p=0.023 for nephritis, and p=0.04 for CNS involvement). Plasma MIF levels and TLR7 stimulated MIF production in vitro reflected the underlying MIF genotype of the studied groups.
Conclusion
These data suggest that MIF, which has both pro-inflammatory properties and macrophage and B cell survival functions, exerts a dual influence on the immunopathogenesis of SLE. High expression MIF genotypes are associated with a reduced susceptibility to SLE and may contribute to an enhanced clearance of infectious pathogens. Once SLE develops however, low expression MIF genotypes may protect from ensuing, inflammatory end-organ damage.
doi:10.1002/art.30624
PMCID: PMC3228269  PMID: 22127710
7.  Renal expression and serum levels of high mobility group box 1 protein in lupus nephritis 
Introduction
High mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1) is a nuclear DNA binding protein acting as a pro-inflammatory mediator following extracellular release. HMGB1 has been increasingly recognized as a pathogenic mediator in several inflammatory diseases. Elevated serum levels of HMGB1 have been detected in autoimmune diseases including Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, the local expression of HMGB1 in active lupus nephritis (LN) is not known. Here we aimed to study both tissue expression and serum levels of HMGB1 in LN patients with active disease and after induction therapy.
Methods
Thirty-five patients with active LN were included. Renal biopsies were performed at baseline and after standard induction therapy; corticosteroids combined with immunosuppressive drugs. The biopsies were evaluated according to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification and renal disease activity was estimated using the British Isles lupus assessment group (BILAG) index. Serum levels of HMGB1 were analysed by western blot. HMGB1 expression in renal tissue was assessed by immunohistochemistry at baseline and follow-up biopsies in 25 patients.
Results
Baseline biopsies showed WHO class III, IV or V and all patients had high renal disease activity (BILAG A/B). Follow-up biopsies showed WHO I to II (n = 14), III (n = 6), IV (n = 3) or V (n = 12), and 15/35 patients were regarded as renal responders (BILAG C/D).
At baseline HMGB1 was significantly elevated in serum compared to healthy controls (P < 0.0001). In all patients, serum levels decreased only slightly; however, in patients with baseline WHO class IV a significant decrease was observed (P = 0.03). Immunostaining revealed a pronounced extranuclear HMGB1 expression predominantly outlining the glomerular endothelium and in the mesangium. There was no clear difference in HMGB1 expression comparing baseline and follow-up biopsies or any apparent association to histopathological classification or clinical outcome.
Conclusions
Renal tissue expression and serum levels of HMGB1 were increased in LN. The lack of decrease of HMGB1 in serum and tissue after immunosuppressive therapy in the current study may reflect persistent inflammatory activity. This study clearly indicates a role for HMGB1 in LN.
doi:10.1186/ar3747
PMCID: PMC3392835  PMID: 22348591
8.  Mutations in genes encoding complement inhibitors CD46 and CFH affect the age at nephritis onset in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R206.
Introduction
Inherited deficiencies of several complement components strongly predispose to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) while deficiencies of complement inhibitors are found in kidney diseases such as atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).
Methods
The exons of complement inhibitor genes CD46 and CFH (factor H) were fully sequenced using the Sanger method in SLE patients with nephritis originating from two cohorts from southern and mid Sweden (n = 196). All identified mutations and polymorphisms were then analyzed in SLE patients without nephritis (n = 326) and in healthy controls (n = 523).
Results
We found nonsynonymous, heterozygous mutations in CFH in 6.1% patients with nephritis, in comparison with 4.0% and 5.4% in patients without nephritis and controls, respectively. No associations of SLE or nephritis with common variants in CFH (V62I/Y402H/E936D) were found. Furthermore, we found two nonsynonymous heterozygous mutations in CD46 in SLE patients but not in controls. The A353V polymorphism, known to affect function of CD46, was found in 6.6% of nephritis patients versus 4.9% and 6.1% of the non-nephritis SLE patients and controls. The presence of mutations in CD46 and CFH did not predispose to SLE or nephritis but was associated with earlier onset of nephritis. Furthermore, we found weak indications that there is one protective and one risk haplotype predisposing to nephritis composed of several polymorphisms in noncoding regions of CD46, which were previously implicated in aHUS.
Conclusions
SLE nephritis is not associated with frequent mutations in CFH and CD46 as found in aHUS but these may be modifying factors causing earlier onset of nephritis.
doi:10.1186/ar3539
PMCID: PMC3334659  PMID: 22171659
9.  A candidate gene study of the type I interferon pathway implicates IKBKE and IL8 as risk loci for SLE 
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the type I interferon pathway has a crucial role. We have previously shown that three genes in this pathway, IRF5, TYK2 and STAT4, are strongly associated with risk for SLE. Here, we investigated 78 genes involved in the type I interferon pathway to identify additional SLE susceptibility loci. First, we genotyped 896 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in these 78 genes and 14 other candidate genes in 482 Swedish SLE patients and 536 controls. Genes with P<0.01 in the initial screen were then followed up in 344 additional Swedish patients and 1299 controls. SNPs in the IKBKE, TANK, STAT1, IL8 and TRAF6 genes gave nominal signals of association with SLE in this extended Swedish cohort. To replicate these findings we extracted data from a genomewide association study on SLE performed in a US cohort. Combined analysis of the Swedish and US data, comprising a total of 2136 cases and 9694 controls, implicates IKBKE and IL8 as SLE susceptibility loci (Pmeta=0.00010 and Pmeta=0.00040, respectively). STAT1 was also associated with SLE in this cohort (Pmeta=3.3 × 10−5), but this association signal appears to be dependent of that previously reported for the neighbouring STAT4 gene. Our study suggests additional genes from the type I interferon system in SLE, and highlights genes in this pathway for further functional analysis.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.197
PMCID: PMC3060320  PMID: 21179067
systemic lupus erythematosus; type I interferon system; candidate gene study; single nucleotide polymorphism; IKBKE; IL8
10.  High-Mobility Group Box-1 Protein (HMGB1) Is Increased in Antineutrophilic Cytoplasmatic Antibody (ANCA)-Associated Vasculitis with Renal Manifestations 
Molecular Medicine  2010;17(1-2):29-35.
High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a nuclear and cytosolic protein that is increasingly recognized as an important proinflammatory mediator actively secreted from monocytes and macrophages and passively released from necrotic cells. In antineutrophilic cytoplasmatic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV), the kidneys are commonly affected vital organs, characterized by focal necrotizing and/or crescentic pauci-immune glomerulonephritis. The aim of the study was to determine whether HMGB1 serum levels are elevated in AAV with renal manifestations. A total of 30 AAV patients (16 female and 14 male; median age 59 years, range 17–82) with Wegener granulomatosis, microscopic polyangiitis and Churg-Strauss syndrome with available renal biopsies and serum samples were included. In seven cases, serum was also obtained at rebiopsy in remission. HMGB1 was analyzed with Western blot. Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score (BVAS, version 2003), C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), urinanalysis, creatinine, estimated glomerular filtration rate, sex and age were included in the analysis. Twenty-five episodes of biopsy-proven active disease with BVAS 17.9 ± 4.6 and 13 cases with inactive biopsies and BVAS 2.3 ± 3.7 (P = 0.0001) were identified. CRP, ESR, hematuria and proteinuria were significantly higher in active cases. HMGB1 was significantly elevated (P = 0.01) comparing active with inactive cases (120 ± 48 versus 78 ± 46 ng/mL) and significantly lower in the seven control patients (P = 0.03) at rebiopsy in remission. HMGB1 remained higher in inactive cases compared with historic healthy controls (10.9 ± 10.5 ng/mL). HMGB1 levels did not differ significantly between AAV subgroups. CRP and ESR did not correlate with HMGB1. HMGB1 is significantly increased in AAV with renal involvement. Residual HMGB1 elevation in remission could possibly reflect low-grade inflammatory activity or tissue damage. Future studies may further reveal whether HMGB1 is useful as a marker of disease activity and a predictor of outcome in AAV.
doi:10.2119/molmed.2010.00132
PMCID: PMC3022976  PMID: 20844833
11.  A large-scale replication study identifies TNIP1, PRDM1, JAZF1, UHRF1BP1 and IL10 as risk loci for systemic lupus erythematosus 
Nature genetics  2009;41(11):1228-1233.
Genome-wide association studies have recently identified at least 15 susceptibility loci for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). To confirm additional risk loci, we selected SNPs from 2,466 regions that showed nominal evidence of association to SLE (P < 0.05) in a genome-wide study and genotyped them in an independent sample of 1,963 cases and 4,329 controls. This replication effort identified five new SLE susceptibility loci (P < 5 × 10−8): TNIP1 (odds ratio (OR) = 1.27), PRDM1 (OR = 1.20), JAZF1 (OR = 1.20), UHRF1BP1 (OR = 1.17) and IL10 (OR = 1.19). We identified 21 additional candidate loci with P ≤ 1 × 10−5. A candidate screen of alleles previously associated with other autoimmune diseases suggested five loci (P < 1 × 10−3) that may contribute to SLE: IFIH1, CFB, CLEC16A, IL12B and SH2B3. These results expand the number of confirmed and candidate SLE susceptibility loci and implicate several key immunologic pathways in SLE pathogenesis.
doi:10.1038/ng.468
PMCID: PMC2925843  PMID: 19838195
12.  Copy number, linkage disequilibrium and disease association in the FCGR locus 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(16):3282-3294.
The response of a leukocyte to immune complexes (ICs) is modulated by receptors for the Fc region of IgG (FcγRs), and alterations in their affinity or function have been associated with risk of autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The low-affinity FcγR genomic locus is complex, containing regions of copy number variation (CNV) which can alter receptor expression and leukocyte responses to IgG. Combined paralogue ratio tests (PRTs) were used to distinguish three intervals within the FCGR locus which undergo CNV, and to determine FCGR gene copy number (CN). There were significant differences in FCGR3B and FCGR3A CNV profiles between Caucasian, East Asian and Kenyan populations. A previously noted association of low FCGR3B CN with SLE in Caucasians was supported [OR = 1.57 (1.08–2.27), P = 0.018], and replicated in Chinese [OR = 1.65 (1.25–2.18), P = 4 × 10−4]. There was no association of FCGR3B CNV with vasculitis, nor with malarial or bacterial infection. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) between multi-allelic FCGR3B CNV and SLE-associated SNPs in the FCGR locus was defined for the first time. Despite LD between FCGR3B CNV and a variant in FcγRIIB (I232T) which abolishes inhibitory function, both reduced CN of FCGR3B and homozygosity of the FcγRIIB-232T allele were individually strongly associated with SLE risk. Thus CN of FCGR3B, which controls IC responses and uptake by neutrophils, and variations in FCGR2B, which controls factors such as antibody production and macrophage activation, are important in SLE pathogenesis. Further interpretations of contributions to pathogenesis by FcγRs must be made in the context of LD involving CNV regions.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq216
PMCID: PMC2908468  PMID: 20508037
13.  Genetic Risk Factors in Lupus Nephritis and IgA Nephropathy – No Support of an Overlap 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10559.
Background
IgA nephropathy (IgAN) and nephritis in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) are two common forms of glomerulonephritis in which genetic findings are of importance for disease development. We have recently reported an association of IgAN with variants of TGFB1. In several autoimmune diseases, particularly in SLE, IRF5, STAT4 genes and TRAF1-C5 locus have been shown to be important candidate genes. The aim of this study was to compare genetic variants from the TGFB1, IRF5, STAT4 genes and TRAF1-C5 locus with susceptibility to IgAN and lupus nephritis in two Swedish cohorts.
Patients and Methods
We genotyped 13 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in four genetic loci in 1252 DNA samples from patients with biopsy proven IgAN or with SLE (with and without nephritis) and healthy age- and sex-matched controls from the same population in Sweden.
Results
Genotype and allelic frequencies for SNPs from selected genes did not differ significantly between lupus nephritis patients and SLE patients without nephritis. In addition, haplotype analysis for seven selected SNPs did not reveal a difference for the SLE patient groups with and without nephritis. Moreover, none of these SPNs showed a significant difference between IgAN patients and healthy controls. IRF5 and STAT4 variants remained significantly different between SLE cases and healthy controls. In addition, the data did not show an association of TRAF1-C5 polymorphism with susceptibility to SLE in this Swedish population.
Conclusion
Our data do not support an overlap in genetic susceptibility between patients with IgAN or SLE and reveal no specific importance of SLE associated SNPs for the presence of lupus nephritis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010559
PMCID: PMC2866667  PMID: 20479942
14.  Serum levels of autoantibodies against C-reactive protein correlate with renal disease activity and response to therapy in lupus nephritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R188.
Introduction
Serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) seldom reflect disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We have previously shown that autoantibodies against neo-epitopes of CRP often occur in SLE, but that this does not explain the modest CRP response seen in flares. However, we have repeatedly found that anti-CRP levels parallel lupus disease activity, with highest levels in patients with renal involvement; thus, we aimed to study anti-CRP in a material of well-characterized lupus nephritis patients.
Methods
Thirty-eight patients with lupus nephritis were included. Treatment with corticosteroids combined with cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate mofetil or rituximab was started after baseline kidney biopsy. A second biopsy was taken after ≥ 6 months. Serum creatinine, cystatin C, complement, anti-dsDNA, anti-CRP and urinalysis were done on both occasions. Biopsies were evaluated regarding World Health Organisation (WHO) class and indices of activity and chronicity. Renal disease activity was estimated using the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) index.
Results
At baseline, 34/38 patients had renal BILAG-A; 4/38 had BILAG-B. Baseline biopsies showed WHO class III (n = 8), IV (n = 19), III to IV/V (n = 3) or V (n = 8) nephritis. Seventeen out of 38 patients were anti-CRP-positive at baseline, and six at follow-up. Overall, anti-CRP levels had dropped at follow-up (P < 0.0001) and anti-CRP levels correlated with renal BILAG (r = 0.29, P = 0.012). A positive anti-CRP test at baseline was superior to anti-dsDNA and C1q in predicting poor response to therapy as judged by renal BILAG. Baseline anti-CRP levels correlated with renal biopsy activity (r = 0.33, P = 0.045), but not with chronicity index. Anti-CRP levels were positively correlated with anti-dsDNA (fluorescence-enhanced immunoassay: r = 0.63, P = 0.0003; Crithidia luciliae immunofluorescence microscopy test: r = 0.44, P < 0.0001), and inversely with C3 (r = 0.35, P = 0.007) and C4 (r = 0.29, P = 0.02), but not with C1q (r = 0.14, P = 0.24). No associations with urinary components, creatinine, cystatin C or the glomerular filtration rate were found.
Conclusions
In the present study, we demonstrate a statistically significant correlation between anti-CRP levels and histopathological activity in lupus nephritis, whereas a baseline positive anti-CRP test predicted poor response to therapy. Our data also confirm previous findings of associations between anti-CRP and disease activity. This indicates that anti-CRP could be helpful to assess disease activity and response to therapy in SLE nephritis, and highlights the hypothesis of a pathogenetic role for anti-CRP antibodies in lupus nephritis.
doi:10.1186/ar2880
PMCID: PMC3003497  PMID: 20003354
15.  Predictors of the first cardiovascular event in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus - a prospective cohort study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R186.
Introduction
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of premature mortality among Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. Many studies have measured and evaluated risk factors for premature subclinical atherosclerosis, but few studies are prospective and few have evaluated risk factors for hard endpoints, i.e. clinically important cardiovascular events (CVE). We investigated the impact of traditional and lupus associated risk factors for the first ever CVE in a longitudinal cohort of SLE patients.
Methods
A total of 182 SLE patients (mean age 43.9 years) selected to be free of CVE were included. Cardiovascular and autoimmune biomarkers were measured on samples collected after overnight fasting at baseline. Clinical information was collected at baseline and at follow up. End point was the first ever CVE (ischemic heart, cerebrovascular or peripheral vascular disease or death due to CVD). Impact of baseline characteristics/biomarkers on the risk of having a first CVE was evaluated with Cox regression.
Results
Follow up was 99.5% after a mean time of 8.3 years. Twenty-four patients (13%) had a first CVE. In age-adjusted Cox regression, any positive antiphospholipid antibody (aPL), elevated markers of endothelial activation (von Willebrand factor (vWf), soluble vascular cellular adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1)) and fibrinogen predicted CVEs. Of SLE manifestations, arthritis, pleuritis and previous venous occlusion were positively associated with future CVEs while thrombocytopenia was negatively associated. Among traditional risk factors only age and smoking were significant predictors. In a multivariable Cox regression model age, any positive aPL, vWf and absence of thrombocytopenia were all predictors of the first CVE.
Conclusions
In addition to age, positive aPL, biomarkers indicating increased endothelial cell activity/damage, and absence of thrombocytopenia were independent predictors of CVEs in this prospective study. Our results indicate that activation of the endothelium and the coagulation system are important features in SLE related CVD. Furthermore, we observed that the risk of CVEs seems to differ between subgroups of SLE patients.
doi:10.1186/ar2878
PMCID: PMC3003532  PMID: 20003285
16.  Genetic variation in the transforming growth factor-β1 gene is associated with susceptibility to IgA nephropathy 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2009;24(10):3061-3067.
Background. There is growing evidence of genetic risk for susceptibility to IgA nephropathy. Among several candidate genes related to immunological regulation in renal tissue, TGFB1 is known to be a contributor to proliferation and the development of fibrosis.
Methods. We analysed several SNPs in a region of this gene using 212 DNA samples from biopsy-proven IgA nephropathy patients, 146 men and 66 women and 477 healthy age-matched controls (321 men and 156 women) from the same population in Sweden.
Results. Frequencies of four out of five selected SNPs (rs6957, rs2241715, rs1800471, rs1982073 and rs1800469) were found to significantly differ between male patients and male controls in a co-dominant model (corrected P ≤ 0.05) and of two SNPs (rs1982073 and rs1800469) in the allelic model (P ≤ 0.05 in 100 000 permutation test). Haplotype analysis for five selected SNPs revealed a significant association of TGGCG with protective effect (P = 0.0012, empirical P = 0.006, 100 000 permutations) and of CTGTA with susceptibility effect (P = 0.0018, empirical P = 0.008, 100 000 permutations). In our study, no association with TGFB1 variations was found when comparing female patients and female controls. No association was found for TGFB1 markers with disease progression for selected individuals from the patient's group. In addition, meta-analysis performed for SNP rs1982073 for combined patients and controls from our study together with published data from two independent studies showed a significant association.
Conclusions. Our experimental data together with the meta-analysis suggest TGFB1 as an important candidate gene for further biological studies of IgA nephropathy and as a possible target for therapy. Our data also indicate a possibility of a gender effect in the genetic background of IgA nephropathy.
doi:10.1093/ndt/gfp079
PMCID: PMC2747497  PMID: 19258388
IgA nephropathy; polymorphism; SNP; TGFB1
17.  A risk haplotype of STAT4 for systemic lupus erythematosus is over-expressed, correlates with anti-dsDNA and shows additive effects with two risk alleles of IRF5 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(18):2868-2876.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the prototype autoimmune disease where genes regulated by type I interferon (IFN) are over-expressed and contribute to the disease pathogenesis. Because signal transducer and activator of transcription 4 (STAT4) plays a key role in the type I IFN receptor signaling, we performed a candidate gene study of a comprehensive set of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) in STAT4 in Swedish patients with SLE. We found that 10 out of 53 analyzed SNPs in STAT4 were associated with SLE, with the strongest signal of association (P = 7.1 × 10−8) for two perfectly linked SNPs rs10181656 and rs7582694. The risk alleles of these 10 SNPs form a common risk haplotype for SLE (P = 1.7 × 10−5). According to conditional logistic regression analysis the SNP rs10181656 or rs7582694 accounts for all of the observed association signal. By quantitative analysis of the allelic expression of STAT4 we found that the risk allele of STAT4 was over-expressed in primary human cells of mesenchymal origin, but not in B-cells, and that the risk allele of STAT4 was over-expressed (P = 8.4 × 10−5) in cells carrying the risk haplotype for SLE compared with cells with a non-risk haplotype. The risk allele of the SNP rs7582694 in STAT4 correlated to production of anti-dsDNA (double-stranded DNA) antibodies and displayed a multiplicatively increased, 1.82-fold risk of SLE with two independent risk alleles of the IRF5 (interferon regulatory factor 5) gene.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn184
PMCID: PMC2525501  PMID: 18579578
18.  Differential effects on BAFF and APRIL levels in rituximab-treated patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis 
The objective of this study was to investigate the interaction between levels of BAFF (B-cell activation factor of the tumour necrosis factor [TNF] family) and APRIL (a proliferation-inducing ligand) and B-cell frequencies in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treated with the B-cell-depleting agent rituximab. Ten patients with SLE were treated with rituximab in combination with cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids. They were followed longitudinally up to 6 months after B-cell repopulation. Nine patients with RA, resistant or intolerant to anti-TNF therapy, treated with rituximab plus methotrexate were investigated up to 6 months after treatment. The B-cell frequency was determined by flow cytometry, and serum levels of BAFF and APRIL were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. BAFF levels rose significantly during B-cell depletion in both patient groups, and in patients with SLE the BAFF levels declined close to pre-treatment levels upon B-cell repopulation. Patients with SLE had normal levels of APRIL at baseline, and during depletion there was a significant decrease. In contrast, patients with RA had APRIL levels 10-fold higher than normal, which did not change during depletion. At baseline, correlations between levels of B cells and APRIL, and DAS28 (disease activity score using 28 joint counts) and BAFF were observed in patients with RA. In summary, increased BAFF levels were observed during absence of circulating B cells in our SLE and RA patient cohorts. In spite of the limited number of patients, our data suggest that BAFF and APRIL are differentially regulated in different autoimmune diseases and, in addition, differently affected by rituximab treatment.
doi:10.1186/ar2076
PMCID: PMC1794511  PMID: 17092341

Results 1-18 (18)