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1.  The assessment of serum-mediated phagocytosis of necrotic material by polymorphonuclear leukocytes to diagnose and predict the clinical features of systemic lupus erythematosus: an observational longitudinal study 
Background
Serum-mediated phagocytosis of antibody- and complement-opsonized necrotic cell material (NCM) by polymorphonuclear leukocytes can be quantified by using a flow cytometry–based assay. The phagocytosis of necrotic cell material (PNC) assay parallels the well-known lupus erythematosus cell test. In this study, we aimed to investigate the diagnostic accuracy of the assay and the relationship with clinical manifestations and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods
The diagnostic accuracy for SLE diagnosis of the PNC assay was studied by cross-sectional assessment of blood samples from 148 healthy control subjects and a multicenter rheumatic group (MRG) of 529 patients with different rheumatic symptoms. A cohort of 69 patients with an established SLE diagnosis (SLE cohort) underwent longitudinal clinical and laboratory follow-up for analysis of the temporal relationships between PNC positivity and specific clinical manifestations.
Results
In 35 of 529 MRG patients, 13 of whom had SLE, the PNC assay result was positive. Combined positivity of the PNC assay and anti–double-stranded DNA antibodies increased specificity and positive predictive value for SLE diagnosis to 0.99 and 0.67, respectively. In the longitudinal study, 42 of 69 SLE cohort patients had positive results in the PNC assay at least once. PNC assay positivity was associated with current hematological manifestations and could predict mucocutaneous manifestations. When combined with hypocomplementemia, PNC positivity preceded increased Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index 2000 score, glomerulonephritis, and alopecia.
Conclusions
Serum-mediated PNC by polymorphonuclear leukocytes is commonly but not exclusively seen in patients with SLE. The PNC assay may be used in follow-up of patients with SLE and, especially in combination with other routinely assessed laboratory tests, may help to predict flares and different clinical manifestations, including glomerulonephritis. Our results encourage further development of the PNC assay as a complementary laboratory tool in management of patients with SLE.
doi:10.1186/s13075-016-0941-1
PMCID: PMC4748567  PMID: 26860519
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Biomarkers; Diagnostic accuracy; Flow cytometry; Disease activity; Lupus nephritis
2.  Anti-C1q Antibodies in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Lupus  2014;24(1):42-49.
Objective
Anti-C1q has been associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis in previous studies. We studied anti-C1q specificity for SLE (vs. rheumatic disease controls) and the association with SLE manifestations in an international multi-center study.
Methods
Information and blood samples were obtained in a cross-sectional study from patients with SLE (n=308) and other rheumatologic diseases (n=389) from 25 clinical sites (84% female, 68% Caucasian, 17% African descent, 8% Asian, 7% other). IgG anti-C1q against the collagen-like region was measured by ELISA.
Results
Prevalence of anti-C1q was 28% (86/308) in patients with SLE and 13% (49/389) in controls (OR=2.7, 95% CI: 1.8-4, p<0.001). Anti-C1q was associated with proteinuria (OR=3.0, 95% CI: 1.7-5.1, p<0.001), red cell casts (OR=2.6, 95% CI: 1.2-5.4, p=0.015), anti-dsDNA (OR=3.4, 95% CI: 1.9-6.1, p<0.001) and anti-Smith (OR=2.8, 95% CI: 1.5-5.0, p=0.01). Anti-C1q was independently associated with renal involvement after adjustment for demographics, ANA, anti-dsDNA and low complement (OR=2.3, 95% CI: 1.3-4.2, p<0.01). Simultaneously positive anti-C1q, anti-dsDNA and low complement was strongly associated with renal involvement (OR=14.9, 95% CI: 5.8-38.4, p<0.01).
Conclusions
Anti-C1q was more common in patients with SLE and those of Asian race/ethnicity. We confirmed a significant association of anti-C1q with renal involvement, independent of demographics and other serologies. Anti-C1q in combination with anti-dsDNA and low complement was the strongest serological association with renal involvement. These data support the usefulness of anti-C1q in SLE, especially in lupus nephritis.
doi:10.1177/0961203314547791
PMCID: PMC4268323  PMID: 25124676
3.  Seizure disorders in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;71(9):1502-1509.
Objective
To describe the frequency, attribution, outcome and predictors of seizures in SLE
Methods
The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) performed a prospective inception cohort study. Demographic variables, global SLE disease activity (SLEDAI-2K), cumulative organ damage (SLICC/ACR Damage Index (SDI)) and neuropsychiatric events were recorded at enrollment and annually. Lupus anticoagulant, anticardiolipin, anti-β2 glycoprotein-I, anti-ribosomal P and anti-NR2 glutamate receptor antibodies were measured at enrollment. Physician outcomes of seizures were recorded. Patient outcomes were derived from the SF-36 mental (MCS) and physical (PCS) component summary scores. Statistical analyses included Cox and linear regressions.
Results
The cohort was 89.4% female with a mean follow up of 3.5±2.9 years. 75/1631 (4.6%) had ≥1 seizure, the majority around the time of SLE diagnosis. Multivariate analysis indicated a higher risk of seizures with African race/ethnicity (HR(CI):1.97 (1.07–3.63); p=0.03) and lower education status (1.97 (1.21–3.19); p<0.01). Higher damage scores (without NP variables) were associated with an increased risk of subsequent seizures (SDI=1:3.93 (1.46–10.55)); SDI=2 or 3:1.57 (0.32–7.65); SDI≥4:7.86 (0.89–69.06); p=0.03). There was an association with disease activity but not with autoantibodies. Seizures attributed to SLE frequently resolved (59/78(76%)) in the absence of anti-seizure drugs. There was no significant impact on the MCS or PCS scores. Anti-malarial drugs in absence of immunosuppressive agents were associated with reduced seizure risk (0.07(0.01–0.66); p=0.03).
Conclusion
Seizures occurred close to SLE diagnosis, in patients with African race/ethnicity, lower educational status and cumulative organ damage. Most seizures resolved without a negative impact on health-related quality of life. Anti-malarial drugs were associated with a protective effect.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-201089
PMCID: PMC4656036  PMID: 22492779 CAMSID: cams5144
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Neuropsychiatric; Seizures; Inception cohort
4.  Factors associated with damage accrual in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: results from the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Cohort 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;74(9):1706-1713.
Background and aims
We studied damage accrual and factors determining development and progression of damage in an international cohort of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.
Methods
The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Cohort recruited patients within 15 months of developing four or more 1997 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for SLE; the SLICC/ACR damage index (SDI) was measured annually. We assessed relative rates of transition using maximum likelihood estimation in a multistate model. The Kaplan–Meier method estimated the probabilities for time to first increase in SDI score and Cox regression analysis was used to assess mortality.
Results
We recruited 1722 patients; mean (SD) age 35.0 (13.4) years at cohort entry. Patients with damage at enrolment were more likely to have further worsening of SDI (SDI 0 vs ≥1; p<0.001). Age, USA African race/ethnicity, SLEDAI-2K score, steroid use and hypertension were associated with transition from no damage to damage, and increase(s) in pre-existing damage. Male gender (relative transition rates (95% CI) 1.48 (1.06 to 2.08)) and USA Caucasian race/ethnicity (1.63 (1.08 to 2.47)) were associated with SDI 0 to ≥1 transitions; Asian race/ethnicity patients had lower rates of new damage (0.60 (0.39 to 0.93)). Antimalarial use was associated with lower rates of increases in pre-existing damage (0.63 (0.44 to 0.89)). Damage was associated with future mortality (HR (95% CI) 1.46 (1.18 to 1.81) per SDI point).
Conclusions
Damage in SLE predicts future damage accrual and mortality. We identified several potentially modifiable risk factors for damage accrual; an integrated strategy to address these may improve long-term outcomes.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-205171
PMCID: PMC4552899  PMID: 24834926
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Outcomes research; Corticosteroids; Inflammation
5.  Impact of early disease factors on metabolic syndrome in systemic lupus erythematosus: data from an international inception cohort 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;74(8):1530-1536.
Background
The metabolic syndrome (MetS) may contribute to the increased cardiovascular risk in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We examined the association between MetS and disease activity, disease phenotype and corticosteroid exposure over time in patients with SLE.
Methods
Recently diagnosed (<15 months) patients with SLE from 30 centres across 11 countries were enrolled into the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Cohort from 2000 onwards. Baseline and annual assessments recorded clinical, laboratory and therapeutic data. A longitudinal analysis of factors associated with MetS in the first 2 years of follow-up was performed using random effects logistic regression.
Results
We studied 1150 patients with a mean (SD) age of 34.9 (13.6) years and disease duration at enrolment of 24.2 (18.0) weeks. In those with complete data, MetS prevalence was 38.2% at enrolment, 34.8% at year 1 and 35.4% at year 2. In a multivariable random effects model that included data from all visits, prior MetS status, baseline renal disease, SLICC Damage Index >1, higher disease activity, increasing age and Hispanic or Black African race/ethnicity were independently associated with MetS over the first 2 years of follow-up in the cohort.
Conclusions
MetS is a persistent phenotype in a significant proportion of patients with SLE. Renal lupus, active inflammatory disease and damage are SLE-related factors that drive MetS development while antimalarial agents appear to be protective from early in the disease course.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203933
PMCID: PMC4515988  PMID: 24692585
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Cardiovascular Disease; Inflammation
6.  Lymphoma risk in systemic lupus: effects of disease activity versus treatment 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;73(1):10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202099.
Objective
To examine disease activity versus treatment as lymphoma risk factors in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods
We performed case–cohort analyses within a multisite SLE cohort. Cancers were ascertained by regional registry linkages. Adjusted HRs for lymphoma were generated in regression models, for time-dependent exposures to immunomodulators (cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, methotrexate, mycophenolate, antimalarial drugs, glucocorticoids) demographics, calendar year, Sjogren’s syndrome, SLE duration and disease activity. We used adjusted mean SLE Disease Activity Index scores (SLEDAI-2K) over time, and drugs were treated both categorically (ever/never) and as estimated cumulative doses.
Results
We studied 75 patients with lymphoma (72 non-Hodgkin, three Hodgkin) and 4961 cancer-free controls. Most lymphomas were of B-cell origin. As is seen in the general population, lymphoma risk in SLE was higher in male than female patients and increased with age. Lymphomas occurred a mean of 12.4 years (median 10.9) after SLE diagnosis. Unadjusted and adjusted analyses failed to show a clear association of disease activity with lymphoma risk. There was a suggestion of greater exposure to cyclophosphamide and to higher cumulative steroids in lymphoma cases than the cancer-free controls.
Conclusions
In this large SLE sample, there was a suggestion of higher lymphoma risk with exposure to cyclophosphamide and high cumulative steroids. Disease activity itself was not clearly associated with lymphoma risk. Further work will focus on genetic profiles that might interact with medication exposure to influence lymphoma risk in SLE.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202099
PMCID: PMC3855611  PMID: 23303389
7.  Non-Lymphoma Hematological Malignancies in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Oncology  2013;85(4):10.1159/000350165.
Objective
To describe non-lymphoma hematological malignancies in SLE.
Methods
A large SLE cohort was linked to cancer registries. We examined the types of non-lymphoma hematological cancers.
Results
In 16, 409 patients, 115 hematological cancers (including myelodysplastic syndrome) occurred. Among these, 33 were non-lymphoma. Of the 33 non-lymphoma cases, 13 were of lymphoid lineage: multiple myeloma (N=5), plasmacytoma (N=3), B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, B-CLL (N=3), precursor cell lymphoblastic leukemia (N=1), and unspecified lymphoid leukemia (N=1). The remaining 20 cases were of myeloid lineage: myelodysplastic syndrome, MDS (N=7), acute myeloid leukemia, AML (N=7), chronic myeloid leukemia, CML (N=2), and 4 unspecified leukemias. Most of these malignancies occurred in female Caucasians, except for plasma cell neoplasms (4/5 multiple myeloma and 1/3 plasmacytoma cases occurred in blacks).
Conclusions
In this large SLE cohort, the most common non-lymphoma hematological malignancies were myeloid types (MDS and AML). This contrasts to the general population, where lymphoid types are 1.7 times more common than myeloid non-lymphoma hematological malignancies. Most (80%) multiple myeloma cases occurred in blacks, which requires further investigation.
doi:10.1159/000350165
PMCID: PMC3880772  PMID: 24107608
Systemic lupus erythematosus; malignancy; cancer
9.  Platelet Activation and Anti-Phospholipid Antibodies Collaborate in the Activation of the Complement System on Platelets in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99386.
Anti-phospholipid (aPL) antibodies are important contributors to development of thrombosis in patients with the autoimmune rheumatic disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The underlying mechanism of aPL antibody-mediated thrombosis is not fully understood but existing data suggest that platelets and the complement system are key components. Complement activation on platelets is seen in SLE patients, especially in patients with aPL antibodies, and has been related to venous thrombosis and stroke. The aim of this study was to investigate if aPL antibodies could support classical pathway activation on platelets in vitro as well as in SLE patients. Furthermore, we investigated if complement deposition on platelets was associated with vascular events, either arterial or venous, when the data had been adjusted for traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Finally, we analyzed if platelet complement deposition, both C1q and C4d, was specific for SLE. We found that aPL antibodies supported C4d deposition on platelets in vitro as well as in SLE patients (p = 0.001 and p<0.05, respectively). Complement deposition on platelets was increased in SLE patients when compared with healthy individuals (p<0.0001). However, high levels of C4d deposition and a pronounced C1q deposition were also seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis. In SLE, C4d deposition on platelets was associated with platelet activation, complement consumption, disease activity and venous (OR = 5.3, p = 0.02), but not arterial, thrombosis, observations which were independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. In conclusion, several mechanisms operate in SLE to amplify platelet complement deposition, of which aPL antibodies and platelet activation were identified as important contributors in this investigation. Complement deposition on platelets was identified as a marker of venous, but not arterial thrombosis, in SLE patients independently of traditional risk factors and aPL antibodies. Further studies are needed to elucidate the role of complement deposition on platelets in development of venous thrombosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099386
PMCID: PMC4055750  PMID: 24922069
10.  Bacteria in the Adventitia of Cardiovascular Disease Patients with and without Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98627.
The incidence of atherosclerosis is significantly increased in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Infection is one factor that may be involved in the pathogenesis of both diseases. The cause of RA and atherosclerosis is unknown, and infection is one of the factors that may be involved in the pathogenesis of both diseases. The aims of this study were to identify bacteria in the aortic adventitia of patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the presence and absence of RA, and to determine the effect of identified candidate pathogens on Toll-like receptor (TLR)-dependent signalling and the proinflammatory response. The aortic adventitia of 11 CVD patients with RA (RA+CVD) and 11 CVD patients without RA (CVD) were collected during coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Bacteria were detected in four samples from CVD patients and three samples from RA+CVD patients and identified by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Methylobacterium oryzae was identified in all three RA+CVD samples, representing 44.1% of the bacterial flora. The effect of M. oryzae on TLR-dependent signalling was determined by transfection of HEK-293 cells. Although mild TLR2 signalling was observed, TLR4 was insensitive to M. oryzae. Human primary macrophages were infected with M. oryzae, and a TLDA qPCR array targeting 90 genes involved in inflammation and immune regulation was used to profile the transcriptional response. A significant proinflammatory response was observed, with many of the up-regulated genes encoding proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α) and chemokines (CCR7, IL-8). The aortic adventitia of CVD patients contains a wide range of bacterial species, and the bacterial flora is significantly less diverse in RA+CVD than CVD patients. M. oryzae may stimulate an proinflammatory response that may aggravate and perpetuate the pathological processes underlying atherosclerosis in RA patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098627
PMCID: PMC4038603  PMID: 24874661
11.  Cancer risk in systemic lupus: An updated international multi-centre cohort study 
Journal of autoimmunity  2013;42:130-135.
OBJECTIVE
To update estimates of cancer risk in SLE relative to the general population.
METHODS
A multisite international SLE cohort was linked with regional tumor registries. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated as the ratio of observed to expected cancers.
RESULTS
Across 30 centres, 16,409 patients were observed for 121,283 (average 7.4) person-years. In total, 644 cancers occurred. Some cancers, notably hematologic malignancies, were substantially increased (SIR 3.02, 95% confidence interval, CI, 2.48, 3.63), particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, NHL (SIR 4.39, 95% CI 3.46, 5.49) and leukemia. In addition, increased risks of cancer of the vulva (SIR 3.78, 95% CI 1.52, 7.78), lung (SIR 1.30, 95% CI 1.04, 1.60), thyroid (SIR 1.76, 95% CI 1.13, 2.61) and possibly liver (SIR 1.87, 95% CI 0.97, 3.27) were suggested. However, a decreased risk was estimated for breast (SIR 0.73, 95% CI 0.61–0.88), endometrial (SIR 0.44, 95% CI 0.23–0.77), and possibly ovarian cancers (0.64, 95% CI 0.34–1.10). The variability of comparative rates across different cancers meant that only a small increased risk was estimated across all cancers (SIR 1.14, 95% CI 1.05, 1.23).
CONCLUSION
These data estimate only a small increased risk in SLE (versus the general population) for cancer over-all. However, there is clearly an increased risk of NHL, and cancers of the vulva, lung, thyroid, and possibly liver. It remains unclear to what extent the association with NHL is mediated by innate versus exogenous factors. Similarly, the etiology of the decreased breast, endometrial, and possibly ovarian cancer risk is uncertain, though investigations are ongoing.
doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2012.12.009
PMCID: PMC3646904  PMID: 23410586
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Epidemiology; Treatment; Disease Activity
12.  Clinical phenotype associations with various types of anti-dsDNA antibodies in patients with recent onset of rheumatic symptoms. Results from a multicentre observational study 
Lupus Science & Medicine  2014;1(1):e000007.
Despite anti-dsDNA antibodies constitute a wide range of specificities, they are considered as the hallmark for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Objective
To identify clinical phenotypes associated with anti-dsDNA antibodies, independently of any clinical diagnoses.
Methods
Patients with recent onset of any rheumatic symptoms were screened for antinuclear antibodies (ANA). All ANA-positive and matching ANA-negative patients were examined, and their clinical phenotypes were registered, using a systematic chart formulated after consensus between the participating centres. All patients were tested for different anti-dsDNA antibody specificities with assays habitually used in each participating laboratory. Crithidia Luciliae Immuno Fluorescence Test (CLIFT) was performed three times (with two different commercial kits); solid and solution phase ELISA were performed four times. Associations between clinical phenotypes and results of anti-dsDNA assays were evaluated by linear regression analysis (LRA) and principal component analysis (PCA).
Results
Totally, 292 ANA-positive and 292 matching ANA-negative patients were included in the study. A full dataset for statistical analysis was obtained in 547 patients. Anti-dsDNA antibodies were most frequently detected by ELISA. LRA showed that overall positivity of anti-dsDNA antibodies was associated with proteinuria and pleuritis. Alopecia was significantly associated only with CLIFT-positivity. Besides confirming the same findings, PCA showed that combined positivity of CLIFT and ELISA was also associated with lymphopenia.
Conclusions
Our results show that different anti-dsDNA antibody specificities are associated with nephropathy, pleuritis, alopecia and lymphopenia, regardless of the diagnosis. It may challenge the importance of anti-dsDNA antibodies as a diagnostic hallmark for SLE.
doi:10.1136/lupus-2013-000007
PMCID: PMC4225731  PMID: 25396058
Autoantibodies; Autoimmunity; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Lupus Nephritis; Autoimmune Diseases
13.  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
14.  Derivation and Validation of Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Classification Criteria for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2677-2686.
Objective
The Systemic Lupus Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) revised and validated the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) SLE classification criteria in order to improve clinical relevance, meet stringent methodology requirements and incorporate new knowledge in SLE immunology.
Methods
The classification criteria were derived from a set of 702 expert-rated patient scenarios. Recursive partitioning was used to derive an initial rule that was simplified and refined based on SLICC physician consensus. SLICC validated the classification criteria in a new validation sample of 690 SLE patients and controls.
Results
Seventeen criteria were identified. The SLICC criteria for SLE classification requires: 1) Fulfillment of at least four criteria, with at least one clinical criterion AND one immunologic criterion OR 2) Lupus nephritis as the sole clinical criterion in the presence of ANA or anti-dsDNA antibodies. In the derivation set, the SLICC classification criteria resulted in fewer misclassifications than the current ACR classification criteria (49 versus 70, p=0.0082), had greater sensitivity (94% versus 86%, p<0.0001) and equal specificity (92% versus 93%, p=0.39). In the validation set, the SLICC Classification criteria resulted in fewer misclassifications (62 versus 74, p=0.24), had greater sensitivity (97% versus 83%, p<0.0001) but less specificity (84% versus 96%, p<0.0001).
Conclusions
The new SLICC classification criteria performed well on a large set of patient scenarios rated by experts. They require that at least one clinical criterion and one immunologic criterion be present for a classification of SLE. Biopsy confirmed nephritis compatible with lupus (in the presence of SLE autoantibodies) is sufficient for classification.
doi:10.1002/art.34473
PMCID: PMC3409311  PMID: 22553077
15.  Factor H autoantibodies and deletion of Complement Factor H-Related protein-1 in rheumatic diseases in comparison to atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(4):R185.
Introduction
Complement activation is involved in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS). Autoantibodies to complement inhibitor factor H (FH), particularly in association with deletions of the gene coding for FH-related protein 1 (CFHR1), are associated with aHUS.
Methods
Autoantibodies against FH, factor I (FI) and C4b-binding protein (C4BP) were measured by ELISA, while CFHR1 homozygous deletion was determined with Western blotting of sera. Epitopes for FH autoantibodies were mapped using recombinant fragments of FH.
Results
FH autoantibodies were detected in SLE (6.7%, n = 60, RA patients (16.5%, n = 97 in the Swedish cohort and 9.2%, n = 217 in the Dutch cohort) and thrombosis patients positive for the lupus anticoagulants (LA+) test (9.4%, n = 64) compared with aHUS patients (11.7%, n = 103). In the control groups (n = 354), an average of 4% of individuals were positive for FH autoantibodies. The frequencies observed in both RA cohorts and LA+ patients were statistically significantly higher than in controls. We also found that an average of 15.2% of the FH-autoantibody positive individuals in all studied disease groups had homozygous deficiency of CFHR1 compared with 3.8% of the FH autoantibody negative patients. The levels of FH autoantibodies varied in individual patients over time. FH autoantibodies found in LA+, SLE and RA were directed against several epitopes across FH in contrast to those found in aHUS, which bound mainly to the C-terminus. Autoantibodies against FI and C4BP were detected in some patients and controls but they were not associated with any of the diseases analyzed in this study.
Conclusions
Autoantibodies against FH are not specific for aHUS but are present at a significant frequency in rheumatic diseases where they could be involved in pathophysiological mechanisms.
doi:10.1186/ar4016
PMCID: PMC3580581  PMID: 22894814
16.  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
17.  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
18.  Increased plasma levels of the soluble Mer tyrosine kinase receptor in systemic lupus erythematosus relate to disease activity and nephritis 
Introduction
Mer and Tyro3 are receptor tyrosine kinases important for the phagocytosis of apoptotic cells. Together with Axl, they constitute the TAM receptor family. These receptors can be shed from the cell membrane and their soluble extracellular regions can be found in plasma. The objective of this study was to elucidate whether the plasma levels of soluble Mer (sMer) and Tyro3 (sTyro3) were increased in systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or critical limb ischemia (CLI).
Methods
ELISA kits were used to test plasma concentrations in controls and in patients with SLE, RA or CLI.
Results
Increased levels of, in particular, sMer and, to some extent, sTyro3, were found in patients with SLE or RA, but not in patients with CLI. Patients with SLE demonstrated the highest sMer levels and there was a strong correlation to higher SLE disease activity score (SLEDAI). In contrast, in patients with RA, the sMer levels did not correlate with the disease activity score (DAS). In SLE, sMer levels were particularly high in those with lupus nephritis, patients who also had decreased C1q levels and increased titers of anti-DNA antibodies. After therapy, the plasma concentrations of sMer decreased in parallel to the decrease in SLEDAI score.
Conclusions
The plasma concentrations of sMer and sTyro3 were significantly increased in patients with active SLE and RA, suggesting the TAM receptor shedding was affected by these autoimmune diseases. In particular, sMer was increased in SLE, the plasma levels of sMer reflecting disease activity.
doi:10.1186/ar3316
PMCID: PMC3132057  PMID: 21496228
19.  Protein synthesis of the pro-inflammatory S100A8/A9 complex in plasmacytoid dendritic cells and cell surface S100A8/A9 on leukocyte subpopulations in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Introduction
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with chronic or episodic inflammation in many different organ systems, activation of leukocytes and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The heterodimer of the cytosolic calcium-binding proteins S100A8 and S100A9 (S100A8/A9) is secreted by activated polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) and monocytes and serves as a serum marker for several inflammatory diseases. Furthermore, S100A8 and S100A9 have many pro-inflammatory properties such as binding to Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). In this study we investigated if aberrant cell surface S100A8/A9 could be seen in SLE and if plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) could synthesize S100A8/A9.
Methods
Flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and real-time PCR of flow cytometry-sorted cells were used to measure cell surface S100A8/A9, intracellular S100A8/A9 and mRNA levels of S100A8 and S100A9, respectively.
Results
Cell surface S100A8/A9 was detected on all leukocyte subpopulations investigated except for T cells. By confocal microscopy, real-time PCR and stimulation assays, we could demonstrate that pDCs, monocytes and PMNs could synthesize S100A8/A9. Furthermore, pDC cell surface S100A8/A9 was higher in patients with active disease as compared to patients with inactive disease. Upon immune complex stimulation, pDCs up-regulated the cell surface S100A8/A9. SLE patients had also increased serum levels of S100A8/A9.
Conclusions
Patients with SLE had increased cell surface S100A8/A9, which could be important in amplification and persistence of inflammation. Importantly, pDCs were able to synthesize S100A8/A9 proteins and up-regulate the cell surface expression upon immune complex-stimulation. Thus, S100A8/A9 may be a potent target for treatment of inflammatory diseases such as SLE.
doi:10.1186/ar3314
PMCID: PMC3132055  PMID: 21492422
20.  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
21.  Serum Protein Profiling of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Systemic Sclerosis Using Recombinant Antibody Microarrays* 
Molecular & Cellular Proteomics : MCP  2011;10(5):M110.005033.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and systemic sclerosis (SSc) are two severe autoimmune connective tissue diseases. The fundamental knowledge about their etiology is limited and the conditions display complex pathogenesis, multifaceted presentations, and unpredictable courses. Despite significant efforts, the lack of fully validated biomarkers enabling diagnosis, classification, and monitoring of disease activity represents significant unmet clinical needs. In this discovery study, we have for the first time used recombinant antibody microarrays for miniaturized, multiplexed serum protein profiling of SLE and SSc, targeting mainly immunoregulatory proteins. The data showed that several candidate SLE-associated multiplexed serum biomarker signatures were delineated, reflecting disease (diagnosis), disease severity (phenotypic subsets), and disease activity. Selected differentially expressed markers were validated using orthogonal assays and a second, independent patient cohort. Further, biomarker signatures differentiating SLE versus SSc were demonstrated, and the observed differences increased with severity of SLE. In contrast, the data showed that the serum profiles of SSc versus healthy controls were more similar. Hence, we have shown that affinity proteomics could be used to de-convolute crude, nonfractionated serum proteomes, extracting molecular portraits of SLE and SSc, further enhancing our fundamental understanding of these complex autoimmune conditions.
doi:10.1074/mcp.M110.005033
PMCID: PMC3098590  PMID: 21350050
22.  Plasma concentrations of Gas6 and sAxl correlate with disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2011;50(6):1064-1069.
Objectives. SLE is a systemic autoimmune disease with an annual incidence of 3.8 per 100 000. Several pathogenic mechanisms are believed to be operating in SLE, including an impaired clearance of apoptotic cells, activation of the type I IFN pathway and generation of autoimmune leucocytes. Growth arrest-specific protein 6 (Gas6) and its receptor Axl are known to regulate inflammation and may be implicated in lupus pathogenesis. We have recently developed immunological methods to quantify the vitamin-K-dependent protein Gas6 and its soluble receptor sAxl in human plasma, which we have used to investigate the role of Gas6 and soluble Axl in SLE.
Methods. We have investigated the relation between the plasma concentrations of Gas6 and sAxl and disease activity and specific symptoms in 96 SLE patients.
Results. Gas6 and sAxl concentrations correlated with SLEDAI (r = 0.48, P < 0.001 and r = 0.39, P < 0.001, respectively). Furthermore, concentrations of Gas6 and sAxl correlated with ESR and CRP and inversely with haemoglobin levels. Gas6 and sAxl concentrations were significantly higher in patients with anti-DNA antibodies, leucopenia and GN.
Conclusion. The plasma concentrations of Gas6 and sAxl vary with disease activity in SLE, in particular GN, and may have a role in lupus pathogenesis. Furthermore, Gas6 and sAxl may be of use as biomarkers of disease activity.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keq459
PMCID: PMC3093930  PMID: 21278074
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Growth arrest-specific protein 6; Axl; Receptor tyrosine kinase; Vitamin K; Inflammation; Autoimmunity
23.  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
24.  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
25.  Use of Serum or Buffer-Changed EDTA-Plasma in a Rapid, Inexpensive, and Easy-To-Perform Hemolytic Complement Assay for Differential Diagnosis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Monitoring of Patients with the Disease▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2007;14(5):549-555.
We previously described a simplified quantitative hemolytic assay for classical pathway (CP) hemolytic function in serum that has been shown to correlate with the 50% hemolytic complement (CH50) assay. In the present study, we used this assay to compare CP functions; plasma levels of C3, C4, and C3dg; and ratios of C3dg to C3 in healthy individuals and patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with different degrees of complement activation. A significant depression in CP function and levels of C4 and C3 and increased C3dg levels and C3dg/C3 ratios were observed in the SLE patients. In patients with RA, CP function was normal, whereas C3, C4, and C3dg levels and the C3dg/C3 ratio were elevated. The SLE results are compatible with systemic complement consumption, whereas the RA data suggest an acute-phase reaction with a normal C3 catabolic rate. To facilitate the handling of patient samples, we also developed a method to restore the hemolytic function of EDTA-plasma by transferring it to Veronal-buffered saline containing the thrombin inhibitor lepirudin. This process inhibits coagulation and enables complement activation, allowing a longer time lag between sample harvesting and testing. These results, combined with previous correlation studies, suggest that the CP hemolytic assay can effectively replace the CH50 assay for routine SLE differential diagnosis and monitoring of disease activity.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00486-06
PMCID: PMC1865633  PMID: 17344343

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