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1.  The Submaximal Heart and Pulmonary Evaluation: A Novel Noninvasive Test to Identify Pulmonary Hypertension in Patients with Systemic Sclerosis 
Arthritis care & research  2013;65(10):1713-1718.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a leading cause of death in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). Although right heart catheterization is the gold standard for diagnosing PH, it is an invasive test with associated risks. The submaximal heart and pulmonary evaluation (step test) is a noninvasive, submaximal stress test that could be used to identify patients with PH. The purpose of this study is to assess the correlation between change in end tidal carbon dioxide (ΔPETCO2) from rest to end-exercise on the step test and mean pulmonary artery pressure (mPAP) on RHC in SSc patients.
This is a retrospective cohort study of patients with limited or diffuse cutaneous SSc who were evaluated in an academic cardiology practice between November 2007 and November 2011 and underwent a step test and RHC. Statistical analysis was performed using Spearman’s correlation and multivariable linear regression.
679 charts were reviewed. Nineteen SSc patients who underwent a step test and RHC were included. ΔPETCO2 was negatively correlated with mPAP (r = −0.82, p-value < 0.0001). In a multivariable linear regression model evaluating the relationship between ΔPETCO2 and mPAP, controlling for age, sex, time between and order of step test and RHC, ΔPETCO2 remained the only variable statistically significantly associated with mPAP (p-value < 0.001). The step test had a sensitivity of 100%, specificity of 75%, PPV of 93.8%, and NPV of 100% for the diagnosis of PH.
ΔPETCO2 on the step test has a strong, statistically significant negative correlation with mPAP on RHC.
PMCID: PMC4084928  PMID: 23740875
2.  Low prevalence of coeliac disease in patients with systemic sclerosis: a cross-sectional study of a registry cohort 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2013;52(5):939-943.
Objectives. Two prior studies suggested that coeliac disease (CD) has a higher prevalence rate (8%) in SSc than in the general population (1%), but these studies were limited by small numbers and the use of traditional coeliac screening antibody tests, where newer ones with improved accuracy have since emerged. Our aim was to determine the prevalence of CD in a larger SSc population using a more modern serological approach to coeliac testing and to correlate coeliac antibody status with gastrointestinal symptoms.
Methods. Stored sera from 72 SSc patients in the Scleroderma Registry at the Hospital for Special Surgery were tested for anti-tissue transglutaminase (traditional) and anti-deamidated gliadin peptide (novel) antibodies. If any of these antibodies were positive, anti-endomysial antibodies were tested and confirmatory small-bowel endoscopy and biopsy were obtained. Registry clinical data were used to determine whether antibody status correlated with gastrointestinal symptoms.
Results. The prevalence of coeliac antibodies in our SSc population was 3/72 (4%). No significant differences with respect to gastrointestinal symptoms were seen in the coeliac antibody-positive compared with -negative SSc patients. No cases of confirmed CD were seen in our cohort.
Conclusion. Contrary to the only two previously published studies, the low prevalence of CD that we found does not suggest that concurrent CD is a common cause of gastrointestinal complaints in SSc patients.
PMCID: PMC3716334  PMID: 23335635
scleroderma; systemic; coeliac disease; signs and symptoms; digestive; gastrointestinal diseases
3.  Meta-analysis in granulomatosis with polyangiitis reveals shared susceptibility loci with rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(10):3463-3471.
To examine the association of previously identified autoimmune disease susceptibility loci with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA, formerly known as Wegener’s granulomatosis), and determine whether genetic susceptibility profiles of other autoimmune diseases are associated with GPA
Genetic data from two cohorts were meta-analyzed. Genotypes for 168 previously identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with susceptibility to different autoimmune diseases were ascertained for a total of 880 GPA cases and 1969 controls of European descent. Single marker associations were identified using additive logistic regression models. Multi-SNP associations with GPA were assessed using genetic risk scores based on susceptibility loci for Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis. Adjustment for population substructure was performed in all analyses using ancestry informative markers and principal components analysis.
Genetic polymorphisms in CTLA4 were significantly associated with GPA in the single-marker meta-analysis (OR 0.79. 95% CI 0.70–0.89, p=9.8×10−5). A genetic risk score based on rheumatoid arthritis susceptibility markers was significantly associated with GPA (OR 1.05 per 1-unit increase in genetic risk score, 95% CI 1.02–1.08, p=5.1×10−5).
Rheumatoid arthritis and GPA may arise from a similar genetic predisposition. Aside from CTLA4, other loci previously found to be associated with common autoimmune diseases were not statistically associated with GPA in this study.
PMCID: PMC3425721  PMID: 22508400
genetics; vasculitis; granulomatosis with polyangiitis; rheumatoid arthritis; CTLA4
4.  Churg–Strauss Syndrome with Eosinophilic Myocarditis 
HSS Journal  2012;8(3):313-319.
PMCID: PMC3470658  PMID: 24082879
Churg–Strauss Syndrome; eosinophilic myocarditis; hypereosinophila
5.  Oral Cyclophosphamide Therapy Diminishes Ovarian Reserve in Women with Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis 
Arthritis care & research  2011;63(12):1777-1781.
Standard treatment for severe granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA, previously Wegener’s granulomatosis) is daily oral cyclophosphamide (CYC), a cytotoxic agent associated with ovarian failure. In this study we assessed the rate of diminished ovarian reserve in women with GPA who received CYC versus methotrexate (MTX).
Patients in the Wegener’s Granulomatosis Etanercept Trial received either daily CYC or weekly MTX and were randomized to etanercept or placebo. For all women under 50, plasma samples taken at baseline or early in the study were evaluated against samples taken later in the study to compare levels of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), endocrine markers of remaining egg supply. Diminished ovarian reserve was defined as AMH<1.0ng/ml.
Of 42 women in this analysis (mean age 35), 24 had CYC exposure prior to enrollment and 28 received the drug during the study. At study entry, women with prior CYC exposure had significantly lower AMH, higher FSH, and a higher rate of early menstruation cessation. For women with normal baseline ovarian function, 6/8 who received CYC during the trial developed diminished ovarian reserve, compared to 0/4 who did not receive CYC (p<0.05). Changes in AMH correlated inversely with cumulative CYC dose (p=0.01), with a 0.74ng/ml decline in AMH for each 10g of CYC.
Daily oral CYC, even when administered for less than 6 months, causes diminished ovarian reserve, as indicated by low AMH levels. These data highlight the need for alternative treatments for GPA in women of childbearing age.
PMCID: PMC3306000  PMID: 22127969
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis; fertility; cyclophosphamide; anti-Müllerian hormone; ovarian function
6.  Cyclophosphamide Responsive Interstitial Lung Disease in “Overlap Syndrome” 
HSS Journal  2010;7(1):99-105.
PMCID: PMC3026100  PMID: 22294966
interstitial lung disease; systemic sclerosis; overlap syndrome; cyclophosphamide
7.  Alpha1-Antitrypsin Deficiency–Related Alleles Z and S and the Risk of Wegener’s Granulomatosis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(12):3760-3767.
Deficiency of α1-antitrypsin (α1AT) may be a determinant of susceptibility to Wegener’s granulomatosis (WG). Several previous, mainly small, case–control studies have shown that 5–27% of patients with WG carried the α1AT deficiency Z allele. It is not clear whether the S allele, the other major α1AT deficiency variant, is associated with WG. This study investigated the relationship of the α1AT deficiency Z and S alleles with the risk of developing WG in a large cohort.
We studied the distribution of the α1AT deficiency alleles Z and S in 433 unrelated Caucasian patients with WG and 421 ethnically matched controls. Genotyping was performed using an allele discrimination assay. Results were compared between cases and controls using exact statistical methods.
Among the patients with WG, the allele carriage frequencies of Z and S were 7.4% and 11.5%, respectively. The frequencies of the 6 possible genotypes differed in a statistically significant manner between cases and controls (P = 0.01). The general genetic 2-parameter codominant model provided the best fit to the data. Compared with the normal MM genotype, the odds ratio (OR) for MZ or MS genotypes was 1.47 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.98–2.22), and the OR for ZZ, SS, or SZ genotypes was 14.58 (95% CI 2.33–∞). ORs of similar direction and magnitude were observed within the restricted cohorts that excluded cases and controls carrying ≥1 Z or ≥1 S allele.
Both Z and S alleles display associations with risk of WG in a codominant genetic pattern. These findings strengthen the evidence of a causal link between α1AT deficiency and susceptibility to WG.
PMCID: PMC3123032  PMID: 20827781
8.  Imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) in the treatment of diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis: results of a 1-year, phase IIa, single-arm, open-label clinical trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(6):1003-1009.
To assess the safety and effectiveness of imatinib mesylate in the treatment of diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (dcSSc).
In this phase IIa, open-label, single-arm clinical trial, 30 patients with dcSSc were treated with imatinib 400 mg daily. Patients were monitored monthly for safety assessments. Modified Rodnan skin scores (MRSS) were assessed every 3 months. Pulmonary function testing, chest radiography, echocardiography and skin biopsies were performed at baseline and after 12 months of treatment.
Twenty-four patients completed 12 months of therapy. 171 adverse events (AE) with possible relation to imatinib were identified; 97.6% were grade 1 or 2. Twenty-four serious AE were identified, two of which were attributed to study medication. MRSS decreased by 6.6 points or 22.4% at 12 months (p=0.001). This change was evident starting at the 6-month time point (Δ=−4.5; p<0.001) and was seen in patients with both early and late-stage disease. Forced vital capacity (FVC) improved by 6.4% predicted (p=0.008), and the diffusion capacity remained stable. The improvement in FVC was significantly greater in patients without interstitial lung disease. Health-related quality of life measures improved or remained stable. Blinded dermatopathological analysis confirmed a significant decrease in skin thickness and improvement in skin morphology.
Treatment with imatinib was tolerated by most patients in this cohort. Although AE were common, most were mild to moderate. In this open-label experience, improvements in skin thickening and FVC were observed. Further investigation of tyrosine kinase inhibition for dcSSc in a double-blind randomised placebo controlled trial is warranted., NCT00555581
PMCID: PMC3086082  PMID: 21398330

Results 1-8 (8)