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1.  Current therapy of granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis: the role of rituximab 
Journal of Nephrology  2014;28:17-27.
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis are anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitides (AAVs) that are prone to cycles of remission and relapse. The introduction of cytotoxic therapy has changed the prognosis for these diseases from typically fatal to manageable chronic illnesses with a relapsing course. Despite improvements in outcomes, recurrence of disease and drug-related toxicity continue to produce significant morbidity and mortality. Better understanding of the pathogenesis of AAV and the mechanism of action of cyclophosphamide has led to investigation of therapies that target B cells. Two randomized controlled trials have shown that rituximab is not inferior to cyclophosphamide for induction of remission in severe AAV, with no significant difference in the incidence of overall adverse events in rituximab- versus cyclophosphamide-treated patients. Data from ongoing clinical trials will determine the role of rituximab in the maintenance of remission.
doi:10.1007/s40620-014-0135-3
PMCID: PMC4322237  PMID: 25185728
Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody; Renal; Rituximab; Vasculitis
2.  IgG4-Related Disease 
doi:10.1155/2013/532612
PMCID: PMC3562585  PMID: 23401693
3.  B-cell-depleting Therapy in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
The American journal of medicine  2012;125(4):327-336.
The emergence of a new class of agents (B-cell-depleting therapies) has opened a new era in the therapeutic approach to systemic lupus erythematosus, with belimumab being the first drug licensed for use in systemic lupus erythematosus in more than 50 years. Four agents deserve specific mention: rituximab, ocrelizumab, epratuzumab, and belimumab. Controlled trials have shown negative results for rituximab, promising results for epratuzumab, and positive results for belimumab. Despite these negative results, rituximab is the most-used agent in patients who do not respond or are intolerant to standard therapy and those with life-threatening presentations. B-cell-depleting agents should not be used in patients with mild disease and should be tailored according to individual patient characteristics, including ethnicity, organ involvement, and the immunological profile. Forthcoming studies of B-cell-directed strategies, particularly data from investigations of off-label rituximab use and postmarketing studies of belimumab, will provide new insights into the utility of these treatments in the routine management of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.
doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.09.010
PMCID: PMC3925418  PMID: 22444096
Belimumab; Epratuzumab; Ocrelizumab; Rituximab; Systemic lupus erythematosus
4.  Meta-analysis in granulomatosis with polyangiitis reveals shared susceptibility loci with rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(10):3463-3471.
Objectives
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
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1002/art.34496
PMCID: PMC3425721  PMID: 22508400
genetics; vasculitis; granulomatosis with polyangiitis; rheumatoid arthritis; CTLA4
5.  IgG4-Related Disease Is Not Associated with Antibody to the Phospholipase A2 Receptor 
Patients with IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) share histopathological characteristics that are similar across affected organs. The finding of infiltration with IgG4+ plasma cells in the proper clinical and histopathological contexts connects a large number of clinical entities that were viewed previously as separate conditions. The renal involvement in IgG4-RD is usually characterized by tubulointerstitial nephritis, but membranous nephropathy has also been reported to be one of the renal complications of IgG4-RD. The recent discovery that a high proportion of patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy (IMN) have IgG4 autoantibodies to the M-type phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R) in the circulation and glomerular immune deposits, together with the profound IgG4 hypergammaglobulinemia and occasional reports of membranous nephropathy in IgG4-RD, raised the question of a common antigen. To assess the presence of anti-PLA2R antibody in patients with IgG4-RD, we screened sera from 28 IgG4-RD patients by immunoblot. None of the patients in this cohort had detectable circulating anti-PLA2R antibodies. This study suggests that despite some clinical and serological overlaps between IgG4-RD and IMN,anti-PLA2R antibodies do not play a role in the pathogenesis of IgG4-RD. Additional studies of IgG4-RD with evidence of membranous nephropathy are important to exclude any definite relationship.
doi:10.1155/2012/139409
PMCID: PMC3357948  PMID: 22654915
6.  Development of an IgG4-RD Responder Index 
IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) is a multiorgan inflammatory disease in which diverse organ manifestations are linked by common histopathological and immunohistochemical features. Prospective studies of IgG4-RD patients are required to clarify the natural history, long-term prognosis, and treatment approaches in this recently recognized condition. Patients with IgG4-RD have different organ manifestations and are followed by multiple specialties. Divergent approaches to the assessment of patients can complicate the interpretation of studies, emphasizing the critical need for validated outcome measures, particularly assessments of disease activity and response to treatment. We developed a prototype IgG4-RD Responder Index (IgG4-RD RI) based on the approach used in the development of the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score for Wegener's granulomatosis (BVAS/WG). The IgG4-RD RI was refined by members of the International IgG4-RD Symposium Organizing Committee in a paper case exercise. The revised instrument was applied retrospectively to fifteen IgG4-RD patients at our institution. Those scores were compared to physician's global assessment scale for the same visits. This paper describes the philosophy and goals of the IgG4-RD RI, the steps in the development of this instrument to date, and future plans for validation of this instrument as an outcome measure.
doi:10.1155/2012/259408
PMCID: PMC3348627  PMID: 22611406
7.  Relationship Between Markers of Platelet Activation and Inflammation with Disease Activity in Wegener’s Granulomatosis 
The Journal of rheumatology  2011;38(6):1048-1054.
Objective
There remains a need for biomarkers to guide therapy in antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis. Our objective was to determine whether measures of platelet activation or inflammation are associated with disease activity in Wegener’s granulomatosis (WG).
Methods
Study subjects were participants in a clinical trial. Soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L), C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-8, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), P-selectin, vascular endothelial growth factor, and proteinase 3 (PR3)-specific ANCA were measured by ELISA using plasma samples obtained at baseline (active disease), at remission, and prior to, during, and after first flares. Disease activity was assessed by the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score for WG (BVAS/WG). Association of biomarkers with disease activity was determined with conditional logistic and linear regression.
Results
Over a mean followup of 27 months, 180 subjects underwent 2044 visits; markers were measured in 563 samples. Longitudinally, all markers other than IL-6 were associated with disease activity. The strongest associations for active disease at baseline versus remission were observed for sCD40L (OR 4.72, 95% CI 2.47–9.03), P-selectin (OR 6.26, 95% CI 2.78–14.10), PR3-ANCA (OR 9.41, 4.03–21.99), and inversely for MCP-1 (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.22–0.57). BVAS/WG increased by 0.80 (95% CI 0.44–1.16), 0.83 (95% CI 0.42–1.25), and 0.81 (95% CI 0.48–1.15) per unit-increase in PR3-ANCA, sCD40L, and P-selectin, respectively; and decreased by 1.54 (95% CI 0.96–2.12) per unit-increase in MCP-1.
Conclusion
Cytokines arising from within the circulation, including those of platelet activation, correlate with disease activity in WG.
doi:10.3899/jrheum.100735
PMCID: PMC3653633  PMID: 21411717
VASCULITIS; BIOMARKERS; DISEASE ACTIVITY; WEGENER’S GRANULOMATOSIS
9.  Assessment of Health Related Quality of Life as an Outcome Measure in Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (Wegener's) 
Arthritis care & research  2012;64(2):273-279.
Objective
Assess a generic measure of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) as an outcome measure in granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's, GPA)
Methods
Subjects were participants in the Wegener’s Granulomatosis Etanercept Trial (WGET) or the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium Longitudinal Study (VCRC-LS). HRQOL was assessed with the Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36) that includes physical and mental component summary scores (PCS and MCS). Disease activity was assessed with the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score for Wegener’s Granulomatosis (BVAS/WG).
Results
Data from 180 subjects in the WGET (median follow-up = 2.3 years, mean number of visits = 10) and 237 subjects in the VCRC-LS (median follow-up = 2.0 years, mean number of visits = 8) were analyzed. One unit increase in BVAS/WG corresponded to a 1.15 unit (95%CI: 1.02; 1.29) decrease in PCS and a 0.93 (95%CI: 0.78; 1.07) decrease in MCS in the WGET and by 1.16 for PCS (95%CI: 0.94; 1.39) and 0.79 for MCS (95%CI: 0.51; 1.39) in the VCRC-LS. In both arms of the WGET study, SF-36 measures improved rapidly during the first 6 weeks of treatment followed by gradual improvement among patients achieving sustained remission (0.5 improvement in PCS per three months), but worsened slightly (0.03 decrease in PCS per three months) among patients not achieving sustained remission (p = 0.005).
Conclusion
HRQOL, as measured by SF-36, is reduced among patients with GPA. SF-36 measures are modestly associated with other disease outcomes and discriminate between disease states of importance in GPA.
doi:10.1002/acr.20649
PMCID: PMC3250569  PMID: 21954229
vasculitis; health-related quality of life; outcome measures
10.  Circulating Markers of Vascular Injury and Angiogenesis in ANCA-Associated Vasculitis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(12):3988-3997.
Objective
To identify biomarkers that distinguish between active ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV) and remission in a manner superior or complementary to established markers of systemic inflammation.
Methods
Markers of vascular injury and angiogenesis were measured before and after treatment in a large clinical trial in AAV. 163 subjects enrolled in the Rituximab in ANCA-Associated Vasculitis (RAVE) trial were studied. Serum levels of E-selectin, ICAM-3, MMP1, MMP3, MMP9, P-selectin, thrombomodulin, and VEGF were measured at study screening (time of active disease) and at month 6. ESR and CRP levels had been measured at the time of the clinical visit. The primary outcome was the difference in marker level between screening and month 6 among patients in remission (BVAS/WG score of 0) at month 6.
Results
All subjects had severe active vasculitis (mean BVAS/WG score 8.6 +/− 3.2 SD) at screening. Among the 123 subjects clinically in remission at month 6, levels of all markers except E-selectin showed significant declines. MMP3 levels were also higher among the 23 subjects with active disease at month 6 than among the 123 subjects in remission. MMP3 levels correlated weakly with ESR and CRP.
Conclusion
Many markers of vascular injury and angiogenesis are elevated in severe active AAV and decline with treatment, but MMP3 appears to distinguish active AAV from remission better than the other markers studied. Further study of MMP3 is warranted to determine its clinical utility in combination with conventional markers of inflammation and ANCA titers.
doi:10.1002/art.30615
PMCID: PMC3227746  PMID: 21953143
biomarkers; vasculitis; ANCA
11.  Oral Cyclophosphamide Therapy Diminishes Ovarian Reserve in Women with Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis 
Arthritis care & research  2011;63(12):1777-1781.
Objective
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).
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/acr.20605
PMCID: PMC3306000  PMID: 22127969
Granulomatosis with polyangiitis; fertility; cyclophosphamide; anti-Müllerian hormone; ovarian function
12.  Solid Malignancies Among Patients with Wegener’s Granulomatosis Treated with Etanercept: Long-term Follow-up of a Multicenter Longitudinal Cohort 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(8):2495-2503.
Purpose
An association between therapeutic inhibition of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and solid malignancies was observed during the Wegener’s Granulomatosis Etanercept Trial (WGET). The present study was conducted to determine the malignancy risk beyond the exposure to study therapy.
Methods
The occurrence and type of solid malignancies were ascertained using a standardized data form. Data collected included vital status, histologic reports, and therapeutic interventions. The SEER database was used to estimate a standardized incidence rate (SIR) for solid malignancies.
Results
The median post-trial follow-up available for 153 patients (85% of the original cohort) was 43 months. Fifty percent of these patients had received etanercept. There were no differences in demographics between etanercept and placebo groups. Thirteen new solid malignancies were detected, 8 in the etanercept and 5 in the placebo group. The risk of solid malignancies in the etanercept group was increased compared to the general population (SIR=3.92; 95% CI 1.69–7.72), but not different from that of the placebo group (SIR=2.89; 95% CI 0.94–6.73, p=0.39). All solid malignancies occurred in patients exposed to cyclophosphamide. The overall duration of disease and a history of malignancy before trial enrollment were associated with the development of malignancy during post-trial follow-up.
Conclusions
The incidence of solid malignancy remained increased during long-term follow-up of the WGET cohort. However, this could not be attributed solely to etanercept exposure during the trial. Anti-TNF therapy with etanercept appears to further increase the risk of malignancy observed in patients with WG treated with cytotoxic therapy and should be avoided in such patients.
doi:10.1002/art.30394
PMCID: PMC3149780  PMID: 21484770
Wegener’s granulomatosis; vasculitis; etanercept; malignancy; cancer
13.  Circulating Angiopoietin-2 as a Biomarker in ANCA-Associated Vasculitis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30197.
The endothelial-specific Angiopoietin-Tie2 ligand-receptor system is an important regulator of endothelial activation. Binding of angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) to Tie2 receptor renders the endothelial barrier responsive to pro-inflammatory cytokines. We previously showed that circulating Ang-2 correlated with disease severity in a small cohort of critically ill patients with anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated glomerulonephritis. The current study reassessed Ang-2 as a biomarker of disease activity and relapse in AAV. Circulating Ang-2 was measured in 162 patients with severe AAV (BVAS/WG≥3, with or without glomerulonephritis) in a clinical trial. Ang-2 levels during active AAV were compared to levels in the same patients during remission (BVAS/WG = 0). Levels in clinical subsets of AAV were compared, and association with future disease course was assessed. Ang-2 levels were elevated in severe disease (median 3.0 ng/ml, interquartile range 1.9–4.4) compared to healthy controls (1.2, 0.9–1.5). However, they did not reliably decline with successful treatment (median 2.6 ng/ml, interquartile range 1.9–3.8, median change −0.1). Ang-2 correlated weakly with BVAS/WG score (r = 0.17), moderately with markers of systemic inflammation (r = 0.25–0.41), and inversely with renal function (r = −0.36). Levels were higher in patients with glomerulonephritis, but levels adjusted for renal dysfunction were no different in patients with or without glomerulonephritis. Levels were higher in patients with newly diagnosed AAV and lower in patients in whom treatment had recently been started. Ang-2 levels during active disease did not predict response to treatment, and Ang-2 levels in remission did not predict time to flare. Thus, Ang-2 appears to have limited practical value in AAV as a biomarker of disease activity at time of measurement or for predicting future activity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030197
PMCID: PMC3261176  PMID: 22279570
14.  Alpha1-Antitrypsin Deficiency–Related Alleles Z and S and the Risk of Wegener’s Granulomatosis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(12):3760-3767.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/art.27742
PMCID: PMC3123032  PMID: 20827781
15.  Rituximab versus Cyclophosphamide for ANCA-Associated Vasculitis 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;363(3):221-232.
BACKGROUND
Cyclophosphamide and glucocorticoids have been the cornerstone of remission-induction therapy for severe antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)–associated vasculitis for 40 years. Uncontrolled studies suggest that rituximab is effective and may be safer than a cyclophosphamide-based regimen.
METHODS
We conducted a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, noninferiority trial of rituximab (375 mg per square meter of body-surface area per week for 4 weeks) as compared with cyclophosphamide (2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day) for remission induction. Glucocorticoids were tapered off; the primary end point was remission of disease without the use of prednisone at 6 months.
RESULTS
Nine centers enrolled 197 ANCA-positive patients with either Wegener’s granulomatosis or microscopic polyangiitis. Baseline disease activity, organ involvement, and the proportion of patients with relapsing disease were similar in the two treatment groups. Sixty-three patients in the rituximab group (64%) reached the primary end point, as compared with 52 patients in the control group (53%), a result that met the criterion for noninferiority (P<0.001). The rituximab-based regimen was more efficacious than the cyclophosphamide-based regimen for inducing remission of relapsing disease; 34 of 51 patients in the rituximab group (67%) as compared with 21 of 50 patients in the control group (42%) reached the primary end point (P = 0.01). Rituximab was also as effective as cyclophosphamide in the treatment of patients with major renal disease or alveolar hemorrhage. There were no significant differences between the treatment groups with respect to rates of adverse events.
CONCLUSIONS
Rituximab therapy was not inferior to daily cyclophosphamide treatment for induction of remission in severe ANCA-associated vasculitis and may be superior in relapsing disease. (Funded by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Genentech, and Biogen; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00104299.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0909905
PMCID: PMC3137658  PMID: 20647199
16.  Functionally defective germline variants of sialic acid acetylesterase in autoimmunity 
Nature  2010;466(7303):243-247.
Sialic acid acetylesterase (SIAE) is an enzyme that negatively regulates B lymphocyte antigen receptor signaling and is required for the maintenance of immunological tolerance in mice1, 2. Heterozygous loss-of-function germline rare variants and a homozygous defective polymorphic variant of SIAE were identified in 24/923 Caucasian subjects with relatively common autoimmune disorders and in 2/648 Caucasian controls. All heterozygous loss-of-function SIAE mutations tested were capable of functioning in a dominant negative manner. A homozygous secretion-defective polymorphic variant of SIAE was catalytically active, lacked the ability to function in a dominant negative manner, and was seen in 8 autoimmune subjects but in no control subjects. The Odds Ratio for inheriting defective SIAE alleles was 8.6 in all autoimmune subjects, 8.3 in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis, and 7.9 in subjects with type I diabetes. Functionally defective SIAE rare and polymorphic variants represent a strong genetic link to susceptibility in relatively common human autoimmune disorders.
doi:10.1038/nature09115
PMCID: PMC2900412  PMID: 20555325

Results 1-16 (16)