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1.  Survivin but not Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand is up-regulated before the onset of rheumatoid arthritis: a pilot study 
Introduction
Antibodies against citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP) and increased levels of cytokines precede the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by several years. Recently, the proteins survivin and Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) have been identified as biomarkers of RA associated with joint destruction. Our objective was to investigate the potential of survivin and Flt3L as predictors of RA in samples from patients prior to onset of symptoms.
Methods
This study included 47 individuals sampled before onset of RA (median 2.5 years (IQR 4.5) and 155 matched controls, all were donors to the Medical Biobank of Northern Sweden, and 36 RA patients. Levels of anti-CCP, survivin and Flt3L were measured using ELISAs and 29 cytokines/chemokines by multiplex detection.
Results
Levels of survivin were increased in pre-symptomatic individuals compared with controls (P = 0.003), whilst the levels of Flt3L were similar. The frequency of survivin positivity in the pre-symptomatic individuals was increased compared with the controls (36.2 vs.14.2%, P = 0.001) and predicted disease development (odds ratio (OR) =3.4 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6-7.2)). The frequency of survivin and Flt3L in RA patients was increased compared with the controls (both, P <0.0001, OR = 12.1 (95% CI, 5.3-27.6) and OR = 11.0 (95% CI, 3.9-30.9), respectively). Anti-CCP positive pre-symptomatic individuals and patients had significantly higher levels of survivin compared with anti-CCP2 negative individuals. In pre-symptomatic individuals, survivin correlated with IL-12, IL-1β and IL-9 whereas Flt3L correlated to a significantly broader spectrum of cytokines in RA patients.
Conclusion
Proto-oncogene survivin was increased in individuals prior to onset of symptoms of RA and was correlated to cytokines suggesting its role at pre-clinical stages of the disease.
doi:10.1186/ar4474
PMCID: PMC3978562  PMID: 24495510
2.  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
3.  High density genetic mapping identifies new susceptibility loci for rheumatoid arthritis 
Nature genetics  2012;44(12):1336-1340.
Summary
Using the Immunochip custom single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array, designed for dense genotyping of 186 genome wide association study (GWAS) confirmed loci we analysed 11,475 rheumatoid arthritis cases of European ancestry and 15,870 controls for 129,464 markers. The data were combined in meta-analysis with GWAS data from additional independent cases (n=2,363) and controls (n=17,872). We identified fourteen novel loci; nine were associated with rheumatoid arthritis overall and 5 specifically in anti-citrillunated peptide antibody positive disease, bringing the number of confirmed European ancestry rheumatoid arthritis loci to 46. We refined the peak of association to a single gene for 19 loci, identified secondary independent effects at six loci and association to low frequency variants (minor allele frequency <0.05) at 4 loci. Bioinformatic analysis of the data generated strong hypotheses for the causal SNP at seven loci. This study illustrates the advantages of dense SNP mapping analysis to inform subsequent functional investigations.
doi:10.1038/ng.2462
PMCID: PMC3605761  PMID: 23143596
4.  Influence of FCGR3A genotype on the therapeutic response to rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis: an observational cohort study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001524.
Objectives
To determine whether a polymorphism in the Fcγ receptor type IIIA (FCGR3A-F158V), influencing immunoglobulin G binding affinity, relates to the therapeutic efficacy of rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.
Design
Observational cohort study.
Setting
Three university hospital rheumatology units in Sweden.
Participants
Patients with established RA (n=177; 145 females and 32 males) who started rituximab (Mabthera) as part of routine care.
Primary outcome measures
Response to rituximab therapy in relation to FCGR3A genotype, including stratification for sex.
Results
The frequency of responders differed significantly across FCGR3A genotypes (p=0.017 in a 3×2 contingency table). Heterozygous patients showed the highest response rate at 83%, as compared with patients carrying 158FF (68%) or 158VV (56%) (p=0.028 and 0.016, respectively). Among 158VV patients, response rates differed between male and female patients (p=0.036), but not among 158FF or 158VF patients (p=0.72 and 0.46, respectively).
Conclusions
Therapeutic efficacy of rituximab in RA patients is influenced by FCGR3A genotype, with the highest response rates found among heterozygous patients. This may suggest that different rituximab mechanisms of action in RA are optimally balanced in FCGR3A-158VF patients. Similar to the previously described associations with RA susceptibility and disease course, the impact of 158VV on rituximab response may be influenced by sex.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001524
PMCID: PMC3467642  PMID: 23002160
Rheumatology; Immunology; Therapeutics
5.  Selective IgA Deficiency in Autoimmune Diseases 
Molecular Medicine  2011;17(11-12):1383-1396.
Selective immunoglobulin A deficiency (IgAD) is the most common primary immunodeficiency in Caucasians. It has previously been suggested to be associated with a variety of concomitant autoimmune diseases. In this review, we present data on the prevalence of IgAD in patients with Graves disease (GD), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), type 1 diabetes (T1D), celiac disease (CD), myasthenia gravis (MG) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on the basis of both our own recent large-scale screening results and literature data. Genetic factors are important for the development of both IgAD and various autoimmune disorders, including GD, SLE, T1D, CD, MG and RA, and a strong association with the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region has been reported. In addition, non-MHC genes, such as interferon-induced helicase 1 (IFIH1) and c-type lectin domain family 16, member A (CLEC16A), are also associated with the development of IgAD and some of the above diseases. This indicates a possible common genetic background. In this review, we present suggestive evidence for a shared genetic predisposition between these disorders.
doi:10.2119/molmed.2011.00195
PMCID: PMC3321806  PMID: 21826374
6.  Cardiovascular events in early RA are a result of inflammatory burden and traditional risk factors: a five year prospective study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(4):R131.
Introduction
Co-morbidity and mortality due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) are increased in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Most published studies in this field are retrospective or cross sectional. We investigated the presence of traditional and disease related risk factors for CVD at the onset of RA and during the first five years following diagnosis. We also evaluated their potential for predicting a new cardiovascular event (CVE) during the five-year follow-up period and the modulatory effect of pharmacological treatment.
Methods
All patients from the four northern-most counties of Sweden with early RA are, since December 1995, consecutively recruited at diagnosis (T0) into a large survey on the progress of the disease. Information regarding cardiovascular co-morbidity and related predictors was collected from clinical records and supplemented with questionnaires. By April 2008, 700 patients had been included of whom 442 patients had reached the five-year follow-up (T5).
Results
Among the 442 patients who reached T5 during the follow-up period, treatment for hypertension increased from 24.5 to 37.4% (P < 0.001)), diagnosis of diabetes mellitus (DM) from 7.1 to 9.5% (P < 0.01) whilst smoking decreased from 29.8 to 22.4% (P < 0.001) and the BMI from 26.3 to 25.8 (P < 0.05), respectively. By T5, 48 patients had suffered a new CVE of which 12 were fatal. A total of 23 patients died during the follow-up period. Age at disease onset, male sex, a previous CVE, DM, treatment for hypertension, triglyceride level, cumulative disease activity (area under the curve (AUC) disease activity score (DAS28)), extra-articular disease, corticosteroid use, shorter duration of treatment with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and use of COX-2 inhibitors increased the hazard rate for a new CVE. A raised erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) at inclusion and AUC DAS28 at six months increased the hazard rate of CVE independently whilst DMARD treatment was protective in multiple Cox extended models adjusted for sex and CV risk factors. The risk of a CVE due to inflammation was potentiated by traditional CV risk factors.
Conclusions
The occurrence of new CV events in very early RA was explained by traditional CV risk factors and was potentiated by high disease activity. Treatment with DMARDs decreased the risk. The results may have implications for cardio-protective strategies in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar3442
PMCID: PMC3239373  PMID: 21843325
7.  Measurements in the Blood of BDNF for RA Patients and in Response to Anti-TNF Treatment Help Us to Clarify the Magnitude of Centrally Related Pain and to Explain the Relief of This Pain upon Treatment 
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neurotrophin with functions related to neuronal survival/proliferation processes and inflammation. BDNF is also an important central pain mediator. The levels of BDNF have been found to be high for RA patients with severe disease and to become lowered in response to anti-TNF treatment. New information says that the levels of BDNF in the blood parallel the BDNF concentrations in the brain and that BDNF can pass the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, most of the circulating BDNF is produced in the brain. Habitual and regular exercise, in contrast to temporary exercise, does also lead to a lowering of BDNF blood levels. Both anti-TNF treatment and habitual and regular exercise do have pain-relieving effects. It might be that the pain-relieving effect of anti-TNF treatment is related to an affection of central neuronal regions, hereby influencing BDNF production. Measurements of BDNF in the blood help us to clarify the magnitude of centrally related pain for RA patients and help us to explain the relief of this pain in response to anti-TNF treatment.
doi:10.4061/2011/650685
PMCID: PMC3132632  PMID: 21755028
8.  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
9.  Association between the PTPN22 +1858 C/T polymorphism and psoriatic arthritis 
Introduction
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the frequency of the PTPN22 +1858 C/T single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (rs 2476601), previously shown to be associated with several autoimmune diseases, in patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) in comparison with population based controls.
Methods
A total of 291 patients (145 male/146 female, mean age (± S.D.) 52.2 (± 13.1) years) with PsA were examined clinically, by standard laboratory tests and their DNA was genotyped for the SNP rs2476601 (PTPN22 +1858 C/T). Allelic frequencies were determined and compared with 725 controls.
Results
Carriage of the risk allele, PTPN22+1858T, showed a significant association with patients with PsA compared with controls (χ2 = 6.56, P = 0.010, odds ratio (OR) 1.49; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10 to 2.02). A significantly higher proportion of carriers of the risk allele (T) had significantly more deformed joints (n ± SEM) (5.9 ± 1.2 vs 2.8 ± 0.5; P = 0.005).
Conclusions
In this study the +1858T allele of the PTPN22 gene, known to be associated with several autoimmune diseases, was associated with PsA. The finding of significantly more joints with deformities among carriers of the T variant could indicate a more aggressive phenotype of disease.
doi:10.1186/ar3284
PMCID: PMC3132030  PMID: 21410964
10.  Autoantibodies predate the onset of systemic lupus erythematosus in northern Sweden 
Introduction
Autoantibodies have a central role in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The presence of autoantibodies preceding disease onset by years has been reported both in patients with SLE and in those with rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting a gradual development of these diseases. Therefore, we sought to identify autoantibodies in a northern European population predating the onset of symptoms of SLE and their relationship to presenting symptoms.
Methods
The register of patients fulfilling the American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE and with a given date of the onset of symptoms was coanalysed with the register of the Medical Biobank, Umeå, Sweden. Thirty-eight patients were identified as having donated blood samples prior to symptom onset. A nested case-control study (1:4) was performed with 152 age- and sex-matched controls identified from within the Medical Biobank register (Umeå, Sweden). Antibodies against anti-Sjögren's syndrome antigen A (Ro/SSA; 52 and 60 kDa), anti-Sjögren's syndrome antigen B, anti-Smith antibody, ribonucleoprotein, scleroderma, anti-histidyl-tRNA synthetase antibody, double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), centromere protein B and histones were analysed using the AtheNA Multi-Lyte ANA II Plus Test System on a Bio-Plex Array Reader (Luminex200). Antinuclear antibodies test II (ANA II) results were analysed using indirect immunofluorescence on human epidermal 2 cells at a sample dilution of 1:100.
Results
Autoantibodies against nuclear antigens were detected a mean (±SD) of 5.6 ± 4.7 years before the onset of symptoms and 8.7 ± 5.6 years before diagnosis in 63% of the individuals who subsequently developed SLE. The sensitivity (45.7%) was highest for ANA II, with a specificity of 95%, followed by anti-dsDNA and anti-Ro/SSA antibodies, both with sensitivities of 20.0% at specificities of 98.7% and 97.4%, respectively. The odds ratios (ORs) for predicting disease were 18.13 for anti-dsDNA (95% confidence interval (95% CI), 3.58 to 91.84) and 11.5 (95% CI, 4.54 to 28.87) for ANA. Anti-Ro/SSA antibodies appeared first at a mean of 6.6 ± 2.5 years prior to symptom onset. The mean number of autoantibodies in prediseased individuals was 1.4, and after disease onset it was 3.1 (P < 0.0005). The time predating disease was shorter and the number of autoantibodies was greater in those individuals with serositis as a presenting symptom in comparison to those with arthritis and skin manifestations as the presenting symptoms.
Conclusions
Autoantibodies against nuclear antigens were detected in individuals who developed SLE several years before the onset of symptoms and diagnosis. The most sensitive autoantibodies were ANA, Ro/SSA and dsDNA, with the highest predictive OR being for anti-dsDNA antibodies. The first autoantibodies detected were anti-Ro/SSA.
doi:10.1186/ar3258
PMCID: PMC3241374  PMID: 21342502
11.  Diagnostic properties of metabolic perturbations in rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of diagnosing early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by measuring selected metabolic biomarkers.
Methods
We compared the metabolic profile of patients with RA with that of healthy controls and patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsoA). The metabolites were measured using two different chromatography-mass spectrometry platforms, thereby giving a broad overview of serum metabolites. The metabolic profiles of patient and control groups were compared using multivariate statistical analysis. The findings were validated in a follow-up study of RA patients and healthy volunteers.
Results
RA patients were diagnosed with a sensitivity of 93% and a specificity of 70% in a validation study using detection of 52 metabolites. Patients with RA or PsoA could be distinguished with a sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of 94%. Glyceric acid, D-ribofuranose and hypoxanthine were increased in RA patients, whereas histidine, threonic acid, methionine, cholesterol, asparagine and threonine were all decreased compared with healthy controls.
Conclusions
Metabolite profiling (metabolomics) is a potentially useful technique for diagnosing RA. The predictive value was without regard to the presence of antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides.
doi:10.1186/ar3243
PMCID: PMC3241363  PMID: 21303541
12.  Antibodies of IgG, IgA and IgM isotypes against cyclic citrullinated peptide precede the development of rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
We and others have previously shown that antibodies against cyclic citrullinated proteins (anti-CCP) precede the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and in a more recent study we reported that individuals who subsequently developed RA had increased concentrations of several cytokines and chemokines years before the onset of symptoms of joint disease. Here we aimed to evaluate the prevalence and predictive values of anti-CCP antibodies of IgG, IgM and IgA isotype in individuals who subsequently developed RA and also to relate these to cytokines and chemokines, smoking, genetic factors and radiographic score.
Methods
A case-control study (1:4 ratio) was nested within the Medical Biobank and the Maternity cohorts of Northern Sweden. Patients with RA were identified from blood donors predating the onset of disease by years. Matched controls were selected randomly from the same registers. IgG, IgA and IgM anti-CCP2 antibodies were determined using EliA anti-CCP assay on ImmunoCAP 250 (Phadia AB, Uppsala, Sweden).
Results
Of 86 patients with RA identified as blood donors prior to the onset of symptoms, samples were available from 71 for analyses. The median (Q1 to Q3) predating time was 2.5 years (1.1 to 5.9 years). The sensitivity of anti-CCP antibodies in the pre-patient samples was 35.2% for IgG, 23.9% for IgA, and 11.8% for IgM. The presence of IgG and IgA anti-CCP antibodies was highly significant compared with controls. IgG and IgA anti-CCP2 predicted RA significantly in conditional logistic regression models odds ratio (OR) = 94.1, 95% confidence interval (CI) 12.7 to 695.4 and OR = 11.1, 95% CI 4.4 to 28.1, respectively, the IgM anti-CCP showed borderline significance OR = 2.5 95% CI 0.9 to 6.3. Concentrations of all anti-CCP isotypes increased the closer to the onset of symptoms the samples were collected with an earlier and higher increase for IgG and IgA compared with IgM anti-CCP. IgA and IgG anti-CCP positive individuals had different patterns of up-regulated chemokines and also, smoking brought forward the appearance of IgA anti-CCP antibodies in pre-RA individuals.
Conclusions
Anti-CCP2 antibodies of both the IgG and IgA isotypes pre-dated the onset of RA by years; also, both IgG and IgA anti-CCP2 antibodies predicted the development of RA, with the highest predictive value for IgG anti-CCP2 antibodies.
doi:10.1186/ar3237
PMCID: PMC3241357  PMID: 21291540
13.  Time‐dependent increase in risk of hospitalisation with infection among Swedish RA patients treated with TNF antagonists 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(10):1339-1344.
Objectives
The degree to which treatment with tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists may be associated with increased risks for serious infections is unclear. An observational cohort study was performed using prospectively collected data from the Swedish Biologics Register (ARTIS) and other national Swedish registers.
Methods
First, in the ARTIS, all 4167 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients starting TNF antagonist treatment between 1999 and 2003 were identified. Secondly, in the Swedish Inpatient Register, all individuals hospitalised for any reason and who also carried a diagnosis of RA, between 1964 and 2003 (n = 44 946 of whom 2692 also occurred in ARTIS), were identified. Thirdly, in the Swedish Inpatient Register, all hospitalisations listing an infection between 1999 and 2003 were identified. By cross‐referencing these three data sets, RRs for hospitalisation with infection associated with TNF antagonist treatment were calculated within the cohort of 44 946 RA patients, using Cox regression taking sex, age, geography, co‐morbidity and use of inpatient care into account.
Results
Among the 4167 patients treated with TNF antagonists, 367 hospitalisations with infections occurred during 7776 person‐years. Within the cohort of 44 496 RA patients, the RR for infection associated with TNF antagonists was 1.43 (95% CI 1.18 to 1.73) during the first year of treatment, 1.15 (95% CI 0.88 to 1.51) during the second year of treatment, and 0.82 (95% CI 0.62 to 1.08) for subjects remaining on their first TNF antagonist treatment after 2 years.
Conclusion
Treatment with TNF antagonists may be associated with a small to moderate increase in risk of hospitalisation with infection, which disappears with increasing treatment duration.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.062760
PMCID: PMC1994293  PMID: 17261532
14.  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
15.  Atherosclerosis in early rheumatoid arthritis: very early endothelial activation and rapid progression of intima media thickness 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(4):R158.
Introduction
In this study we aimed to investigate whether there are indications of premature atherosclerosis, as measured by endothelial dependent flow-mediated dilation (ED-FMD) and intima media thickness (IMT), in patients with very early RA, and to analyze its relation to biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction, taking inflammation and traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors into account.
Methods
Patients from the three northern counties of Sweden diagnosed with early RA are followed in an ongoing prospective study of CVD co-morbidity. Of these, all patients aged ≤60 years were consecutively included in this survey of CVD risk factors (n = 79). Forty-four age and sex matched controls were included. IMT of common carotid artery and ED-FMD of brachial artery were measured using ultrasonography. Blood was drawn for analysis of lipids, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP), plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)-mass, VonWillebrand factor (VWF), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM), soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM), sE-selectin, sL-selectin and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1). In a subgroup of 27 RA patients and their controls the ultrasound measurements were reanalysed after 18 months.
Results
There were no significant differences between RA patients and controls in terms of IMT or ED-FMD at the first evaluation. However after 18 months there was a significant increase in the IMT among the patients with RA (P < 0.05). Patients with RA had higher levels of VWF, sICAM-1 (P < 0.05) and of MCP-1 (P = 0.001) compared with controls. In RA, IMT was related to some of the traditional CVD risk factors, tPA-mass, VWF (P < 0.01) and MCP-1 and inversely to sL-selectin (P < 0.05). In RA, ED-FMD related to sL-selectin (P < 0.01). DAS28 at baseline was related to PAI-1, tPA-mass and inversely to sVCAM-1 (P < 0.05) and sL-selectin (P = 0.001).
Conclusions
We found no signs of atherosclerosis in patients with newly diagnosed RA compared with controls. However, in patients with early RA, IMT and ED-FMD were, to a greater extent than in controls, related to biomarkers known to be associated with endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis. After 18 months, IMT had increased significantly in RA patients but not in controls.
doi:10.1186/ar3116
PMCID: PMC2945061  PMID: 20712865
16.  Novel information on the non-neuronal cholinergic system in orthopedics provides new possible treatment strategies for inflammatory and degenerative diseases 
Orthopedic Reviews  2009;1(1):e11.
Anti-cholinergic agents are used in the treatment of several pathological conditions. Therapy regimens aimed at up-regulating cholinergic functions, such as treatment with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, are also currently prescribed. It is now known that not only is there a neuronal cholinergic system but also a non-neuronal cholinergic system in various parts of the body. Therefore, interference with the effects of acetylcholine (ACh) brought about by the local production and release of ACh should also be considered. Locally produced ACh may have proliferative, angiogenic, wound-healing, and immunomodulatory functions. Interestingly, cholinergic stimulation may lead to anti-inflammatory effects. Within this review, new findings for the locomotor system of a more widespread non-neuronal cholinergic system than previously expected will be discussed in relation to possible new treatment strategies. The conditions discussed are painful and degenerative tendon disease (tendinopathy/tendinosis), rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
doi:10.4081/or.2009.e11
PMCID: PMC3143960  PMID: 21808665
acetylcholine; tendinosis; tendinopathy; rheumatoid arthritis; osteoarthritis.
18.  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
20.  The PTPN22 1858C/T polymorphism is associated with anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody-positive early rheumatoid arthritis in northern Sweden 
The PTPN22 1858C/T polymorphism has been associated with several autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We have shown that carriage of the T variant (CT or TT) of PTPN22 in combination with anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies highly increases the odds ratio for developing RA. In the present study we analysed the association between the PTPN22 1858C/T polymorphism and early RA in patients from northern Sweden, related the polymorphism to autoantibodies and the HLA-DR shared epitope, and analysed their association with markers for disease activity and progression. The inception cohort includes individuals who also donated samples before disease onset. A case–control study was performed in patients (n = 505; 342 females and 163 males) with early RA (mean duration of symptoms = 6.3 months) and in population-based matched controls (n = 970) from northern Sweden. Genotyping of the PTPN22 1858C/T polymorphism was performed using a TaqMan instrument. HLA-shared epitope alleles were identified using PCR sequence-specific primers. Anti-CCP2 antibodies were determined using enzyme-linked immunoassays. Disease activity (that is, the number of swollen and tender joints, the global visual analogue scale, and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate) was followed on a regular basis (that is, at baseline and after 6, 12, 18 and 24 months). Both the 1858T allele and the carriage of T were associated with RA (χ2 = 23.84, P = 0.000001, odds ratio = 1.69, 95% confidence interval = 1.36–2.11; and χ2 = 22.68, P = 0.000002, odds ratio = 1.79, 95% confidence interval = 1.40–2.29, respectively). Association of the 1858T variant with RA was confined to seropositive disease. Carriage of 1858T and the presence of anti-CCP antibodies was independently associated with disease onset at an earlier age (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively), while the combination of both resulted in an even earlier age at onset. Smoking was identified as a risk factor independent of the 1858T variant and anti-CCP antibodies.
doi:10.1186/ar2214
PMCID: PMC2206338  PMID: 17553139
21.  PTPN22 polymorphism and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies in combination strongly predicts future onset of rheumatoid arthritis and has a specificity of 100% for the disease 
We analysed relationships between the PTPN22 1858 polymorphism and antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP), rheumatoid factors (RFs) and the shared epitope (SE) gene (HLA-DRB1*0404 or 0401) and determined their combined predictive value for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in individuals who subsequently developed RA. This case-control study was nested within the Medical Biobank of Northern Sweden. Patients with RA (n = 92) were identified from amongst blood donors antedating onset of disease by a median of 2.4 (interquartile range 1.2 to 4.9) years. Matched controls were selected randomly from the same cohorts (n = 368). Anti-CCP antibodies and RFs were determined using enzyme-linked immunoassays. Genotyping was performed using an ABI PRISM 7900HT instrument and HLA-SE genes were identified using PCR sequence-specific primers. The 1858T allele and also carriage of T were associated with future onset of RA (odds ratio (OR) = 2.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.45–3.61 and OR = 2.64, 95% CI 1.56–4.47, respectively). The combination of the 1858T variant and anti-CCP antibodies gave 100% specificity for the disease. None of the 368 controls expressed this combination. The PTPN22 1858T variant and anti-CCP antibodies were clearly associated (OR = 3.80, 95% CI 1.51–9.57). A combination of the PTPN22 1858T variant and anti-CCP antibodies gave a much higher relative risk (>132.03) for developing RA than the combination of the T variant and HLA-SE (OR = 7.85). The PTPN22 1858T variant was associated with future development of RA. There was an association between the T variant and anti-CCP antibodies and their combination, found only among pre-patients, gives a very high relative risk for development of RA. The combination gave a specificity of 100% for diagnosing RA.
doi:10.1186/ar1868
PMCID: PMC1526580  PMID: 16507117
22.  Levels of gastrin-releasing peptide and substance P in synovial fluid and serum correlate with levels of cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(3):R416-R426.
It is well known that cytokines are highly involved in the disease process of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, targeting of neuropeptides has been suggested to have potential therapeutic effects in RA. The aim of this study was to investigate possible interrelations between five neuropeptides (bombesin/gastrin-releasing peptide (BN/GRP), substance P (SP), vasoactive intestinal peptide, calcitonin-gene-related peptide, and neuropeptide Y) and the three cytokines tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, IL-6, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 in synovial fluid of patients with RA. We also investigated possible interrelations between these neuropeptides and soluble TNF receptor 1 in serum from RA patients. Synovial fluid and sera were collected and assayed with ELISA or RIA. The most interesting findings were correlations between BN/GRP and SP and the cytokines. Thus, in synovial fluid, the concentrations of BN/GRP and SP grouped together with IL-6, and SP also grouped together with TNF-α and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. BN/GRP and SP concentrations in synovial fluid also grouped together with the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. In the sera, BN/GRP concentrations and soluble TNF receptor 1 concentrations were correlated. These results are of interest because blocking of SP effects has long been discussed in relation to RA treatment and because BN/GRP is known to have trophic and growth-promoting effects and to play a role in inflammation and wound healing. Furthermore, the observations strengthen a suggestion that combination treatment with agents interfering with neuropeptides and cytokines would be efficacious in the treatment of RA. In conclusion, BN/GRP and SP are involved together with cytokines in the neuroimmunomodulation that occurs in the arthritic joint.
doi:10.1186/ar1503
PMCID: PMC1174935  PMID: 15899028
cytokines; gastrin-releasing peptide; rheumatoid arthritis; substance P; TNF-α

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