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1.  Evaluation of B lymphocyte stimulator and a proliferation inducing ligand as candidate biomarkers in lupus nephritis based on clinical and histopathological outcome following induction therapy 
Lupus Science & Medicine  2015;2(1):e000061.
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a major cause of morbidity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). B cells have a central role in the pathogenesis of SLE. B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) and a proliferation inducing ligand (APRIL) are pivotal in B cell homeostasis. We aimed to investigate a potential role of serum BLyS and APRIL as biomarkers in LN, especially as predictors of treatment response.
Sixty-four patients with active LN (52 proliferative lupus nephritis (PLN); 12 membranous LN) were included. Renal biopsies were performed at baseline and after immunosuppressive treatment. Serum levels of BLyS, APRIL and autoantibodies were measured on both biopsy occasions and in 64 individually matched controls. Renal biopsies were evaluated using the International Society of Nephrology/Renal Pathology Society classification, and scored for Activity Index and Chronicity Index. Clinical responders (CR) were required to have ≥50% reduction in proteinuria, normal or improved renal function, and inactive urinary sediment. Histopathological responders (HR) were required to have ≥50% improvement in Activity Index.
Baseline BLyS levels were significantly higher in LN patients compared with controls (p<0.001) and remained unchanged following induction treatment. APRIL levels were significantly higher in patients compared with controls at baseline (p=0.005) and decreased following treatment (p<0.001). Among PLN patients, APRIL levels decreased significantly only in responders (CR: p=0.009; HR: p=0.01). Baseline BLyS levels <1.5 ng/mL predicted treatment response, attaining a positive predictive value of 92% for CR with PLN at baseline.
BLyS and APRIL were affected differently by immunosuppression; BLyS levels remained unchanged following therapy while APRIL levels decreased. Despite unchanged BLyS levels following therapy, low baseline levels predicted both clinical and histopathological improvement. Our data support APRIL as a candidate biomarker of renal disease activity in lupus patients with proliferative glomerulonephritis and point to low baseline BLyS levels predicting treatment response in LN, especially in PLN.
PMCID: PMC4305068  PMID: 25632350
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Lupus Nephritis; B cells
2.  Association of STAT4 Polymorphism with Severe Renal Insufficiency in Lupus Nephritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84450.
Lupus nephritis is a cause of significant morbidity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and its genetic background has not been completely clarified. The aim of this investigation was to analyze single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association with lupus nephritis, its severe form proliferative nephritis and renal outcome, in two Swedish cohorts. Cohort I (n = 567 SLE cases, n =  512 controls) was previously genotyped for 5676 SNPs and cohort II (n = 145 SLE cases, n = 619 controls) was genotyped for SNPs in STAT4, IRF5, TNIP1 and BLK.
Case-control and case-only association analyses for patients with lupus nephritis, proliferative nephritis and severe renal insufficiency were performed. In the case-control analysis of cohort I, four highly linked SNPs in STAT4 were associated with lupus nephritis with genome wide significance with p = 3.7×10−9, OR 2.20 for the best SNP rs11889341. Strong signals of association between IRF5 and an HLA-DR3 SNP marker were also detected in the lupus nephritis case versus healthy control analysis (p <0.0001). An additional six genes showed an association with lupus nephritis with p <0.001 (PMS2, TNIP1, CARD11, ITGAM, BLK and IRAK1). In the case-only meta-analysis of the two cohorts, the STAT4 SNP rs7582694 was associated with severe renal insufficiency with p  = 1.6×10−3 and OR 2.22. We conclude that genetic variations in STAT4 predispose to lupus nephritis and a worse outcome with severe renal insufficiency.
PMCID: PMC3873995  PMID: 24386384
3.  A Research Study of the Association between Maternal Microchimerism and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Adults: A Comparison between Patients and Healthy Controls Based on Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism Using Quantitative Real-Time PCR 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74534.
Naturally acquired microchimerism may arise in the mother and her child during pregnancy when bidirectional trafficking of cells occurs through the placental barrier. The occurrence of maternal microchimerism (maternal cells in the offspring) has been associated with several autoimmune diseases, especially in children. Systemic Lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder with a resemblance to graft-versus-host disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between maternal microchimerism in the blood and SLE.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Thirty-two patients with SLE, 17 healthy brothers of the patients, and an additional 12 unrelated healthy men were the subjects in this study. A single-nucleotide polymorphism unique to each mother was identified, and maternal microchimerism in the study group and in the control group was detected using a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction technique. No differences in the frequency or the concentration of maternal cells were apparent in the blood of patients with SLE or in that of the controls. Two patients and one control tested positive for maternal microchimerism, but the positive subjects were all negative at a follow-up 16 years later. The sensitivity of the method was estimated to 1/10.000.
These results show no association between SLE and maternal microchimerism. The frequency of maternal microchimerism in the blood of adults overall may be lower than earlier reported.
PMCID: PMC3770650  PMID: 24040274
4.  Genes identified in Asian SLE GWASs are also associated with SLE in Caucasian populations 
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWASs) conducted in Asian populations have identified novel risk loci for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Here, we genotyped 10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in eight such loci and investigated their disease associations in three independent Caucasian SLE case–control cohorts recruited from Sweden, Finland and the United States. The disease associations of the SNPs in ETS1, IKZF1, LRRC18-WDFY4, RASGRP3, SLC15A4, TNIP1 and 16p11.2 were replicated, whereas no solid evidence of association was observed for the 7q11.23 locus in the Caucasian cohorts. SLC15A4 was significantly associated with renal involvement in SLE. The association of TNIP1 was more pronounced in SLE patients with renal and immunological disorder, which is corroborated by two previous studies in Asian cohorts. The effects of all the associated SNPs, either conferring risk for or being protective against SLE, were in the same direction in Caucasians and Asians. The magnitudes of the allelic effects for most of the SNPs were also comparable across different ethnic groups. On the contrary, remarkable differences in allele frequencies between Caucasian and Asian populations were observed for all associated SNPs. In conclusion, most of the novel SLE risk loci identified by GWASs in Asian populations were also associated with SLE in Caucasian populations. We observed both similarities and differences with respect to the effect sizes and risk allele frequencies across ethnicities.
PMCID: PMC3746253  PMID: 23249952
systemic lupus erythematosus; genetic-association study; Asian; Caucasian
5.  Ischemic arterial events and atherosclerosis in patients with systemic sclerosis: a population-based case-control study 
While microvascular disease is well described in systemic sclerosis (SSc), it is still unclear whether the occurrence of ischemic macrovascular events and atherosclerosis is enhanced among patients with SSc.
In this study, 111 SSc patients (74% of prevalent cases in Stockholm County) and 105 age- and sex-comparable population controls were investigated. Previous ischemic arterial events were tabulated. As surrogate measures of atherosclerosis, plaque occurrence and intima-media thickness (IMT) were determined with carotid ultrasound and the ankle-brachial index (ABI) was calculated. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors were recorded and we also measured biomarkers indicating systemic inflammation and endothelial activation/dysfunction.
Mean age was 62 ± 12 years for patients and controls. Ischemic arterial events were more common, due to increased occurrence of ischemic heart disease (IHD) and ischemic peripheral vascular disease (IPVD), in the patient group (12% vs. 4%, P = 0.03 and 9% vs. 0%, P = 0.003 respectively). On a group level, there was no difference regarding the occurrence of ischemic cerebrovascular disease, the frequency of plaques, IMT or ABI between SSc patients and controls. Subgroup analyses revealed that patients with anticentromere antibodies (ACA+) had more plaques and more ischemic arterial events compared to other SSc patients (67% vs. 39% and 32% vs. 11%; P = 0.006 and P = 0.01, respectively) and compared to controls (67% vs. 41% and 32% vs. 7%, P = 0.02 and P = 0.0003, respectively). Biomarkers of inflammation/endothelial activation were generally increased among SSc patients.
Patients with SSc are at enhanced risk for IHD and IPVD. The ACA+ SSc subgroup was particularly affected with both ischemic arterial events and premature atherosclerosis. The microvascular vulnerability of ACA+ patients is previously well documented. We demonstrate that ACA+ SSc patients have an enhanced risk of macrovascular injury as well. This group should be followed closely and modifiable cardiovascular risk factors should be treated at an early stage.
PMCID: PMC3979018  PMID: 23945149
6.  Dual Effect of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor Gene on the Development and the Severity of Human Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(12):3942-3951.
To study the effect of the innate cytokine, MIF, on the susceptibility and the severity of SLE in a multinational population of Caucasian and African-American patients.
We studied the association between two functional polymorphisms in the MIF gene: a −794 CATT5-8 microsatellite repeat (rs5844572) and a −173 G/C SNP (rs755622), with SLE in 3195 patients and controls. We also measured MIF plasma levels in relation to genotypes, clinical phenotypes, and TLR 7-stimulated MIF production in vitro.
Both Caucasians and African-Americans with the high expression, −794 CATT7/173*C haplotype had lower SLE incidence (OR 0.63 [0.53, 0.89], p=0.001 in Caucasians, and OR 0.46 [0.23, 0.95], p=0.012 in African-Americans). By contrast, among patients with established SLE, those with nephritis, serositis, and CNS involvement had reduced frequencies of low expression MIF genotypes (−794 CATT5) when compared to patients without end-organ involvement (p=0.005 for serositis, p=0.023 for nephritis, and p=0.04 for CNS involvement). Plasma MIF levels and TLR7 stimulated MIF production in vitro reflected the underlying MIF genotype of the studied groups.
These data suggest that MIF, which has both pro-inflammatory properties and macrophage and B cell survival functions, exerts a dual influence on the immunopathogenesis of SLE. High expression MIF genotypes are associated with a reduced susceptibility to SLE and may contribute to an enhanced clearance of infectious pathogens. Once SLE develops however, low expression MIF genotypes may protect from ensuing, inflammatory end-organ damage.
PMCID: PMC3228269  PMID: 22127710
7.  Risk factors for cardiovascular mortality in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, a prospective cohort study 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is common and a major cause of mortality. Studies on cardiovascular morbidity are abundant, whereas mortality studies focusing on cardiovascular outcomes are scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate causes of death and baseline predictors of overall (OM), non-vascular (N-VM), and specifically cardiovascular (CVM) mortality in SLE, and to evaluate systematic coronary risk evaluation (SCORE).
208 SLE patients were included 1995-1999 and followed up after 12 years. Clinical evaluation, CVD risk factors, and biomarkers were recorded at inclusion. Death certificates and autopsy protocols were collected. Causes of death were divided into CVM (ischemic vascular and general atherosclerotic diseases), N-VM and death due to pulmonary hypertension. Predictors of mortality were investigated using multivariable Cox regression. SCORE and standardized mortality ratio (SMR) were calculated.
During follow-up 42 patients died at mean age of 62 years. SMR 2.4 (CI 1.7-3.0). 48% of deaths were caused by CVM. SCORE underestimated CVM but not to a significant level. Age, high cystatin C levels and established arterial disease were the strongest predictors for all- cause mortality. After adjusting for these in multivariable analyses, only smoking among traditional risk factors, and high soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), anti-beta2 glycoprotein-1 (abeta2GP1) and any antiphospholipid antibody (aPL) among biomarkers, remained predictive of CVM.
With the exception of smoking, traditional risk factors do not capture the main underlying risk factors for CVM in SLE. Rather, cystatin C levels, inflammatory and endothelial markers, and antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) differentiate patients with favorable versus severe cardiovascular prognosis. Our results suggest that these new biomarkers are useful in evaluating the future risk of cardiovascular mortality in SLE patients.
PMCID: PMC4060356  PMID: 22390680
8.  Mutations in genes encoding complement inhibitors CD46 and CFH affect the age at nephritis onset in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R206.
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).
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).
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3334659  PMID: 22171659
9.  A candidate gene study of the type I interferon pathway implicates IKBKE and IL8 as risk loci for SLE 
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the type I interferon pathway has a crucial role. We have previously shown that three genes in this pathway, IRF5, TYK2 and STAT4, are strongly associated with risk for SLE. Here, we investigated 78 genes involved in the type I interferon pathway to identify additional SLE susceptibility loci. First, we genotyped 896 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in these 78 genes and 14 other candidate genes in 482 Swedish SLE patients and 536 controls. Genes with P<0.01 in the initial screen were then followed up in 344 additional Swedish patients and 1299 controls. SNPs in the IKBKE, TANK, STAT1, IL8 and TRAF6 genes gave nominal signals of association with SLE in this extended Swedish cohort. To replicate these findings we extracted data from a genomewide association study on SLE performed in a US cohort. Combined analysis of the Swedish and US data, comprising a total of 2136 cases and 9694 controls, implicates IKBKE and IL8 as SLE susceptibility loci (Pmeta=0.00010 and Pmeta=0.00040, respectively). STAT1 was also associated with SLE in this cohort (Pmeta=3.3 × 10−5), but this association signal appears to be dependent of that previously reported for the neighbouring STAT4 gene. Our study suggests additional genes from the type I interferon system in SLE, and highlights genes in this pathway for further functional analysis.
PMCID: PMC3060320  PMID: 21179067
systemic lupus erythematosus; type I interferon system; candidate gene study; single nucleotide polymorphism; IKBKE; IL8
10.  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.
PMCID: PMC2925843  PMID: 19838195
11.  Copy number, linkage disequilibrium and disease association in the FCGR locus 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(16):3282-3294.
The response of a leukocyte to immune complexes (ICs) is modulated by receptors for the Fc region of IgG (FcγRs), and alterations in their affinity or function have been associated with risk of autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The low-affinity FcγR genomic locus is complex, containing regions of copy number variation (CNV) which can alter receptor expression and leukocyte responses to IgG. Combined paralogue ratio tests (PRTs) were used to distinguish three intervals within the FCGR locus which undergo CNV, and to determine FCGR gene copy number (CN). There were significant differences in FCGR3B and FCGR3A CNV profiles between Caucasian, East Asian and Kenyan populations. A previously noted association of low FCGR3B CN with SLE in Caucasians was supported [OR = 1.57 (1.08–2.27), P = 0.018], and replicated in Chinese [OR = 1.65 (1.25–2.18), P = 4 × 10−4]. There was no association of FCGR3B CNV with vasculitis, nor with malarial or bacterial infection. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) between multi-allelic FCGR3B CNV and SLE-associated SNPs in the FCGR locus was defined for the first time. Despite LD between FCGR3B CNV and a variant in FcγRIIB (I232T) which abolishes inhibitory function, both reduced CN of FCGR3B and homozygosity of the FcγRIIB-232T allele were individually strongly associated with SLE risk. Thus CN of FCGR3B, which controls IC responses and uptake by neutrophils, and variations in FCGR2B, which controls factors such as antibody production and macrophage activation, are important in SLE pathogenesis. Further interpretations of contributions to pathogenesis by FcγRs must be made in the context of LD involving CNV regions.
PMCID: PMC2908468  PMID: 20508037
12.  Genetic Risk Factors in Lupus Nephritis and IgA Nephropathy – No Support of an Overlap 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10559.
IgA nephropathy (IgAN) and nephritis in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) are two common forms of glomerulonephritis in which genetic findings are of importance for disease development. We have recently reported an association of IgAN with variants of TGFB1. In several autoimmune diseases, particularly in SLE, IRF5, STAT4 genes and TRAF1-C5 locus have been shown to be important candidate genes. The aim of this study was to compare genetic variants from the TGFB1, IRF5, STAT4 genes and TRAF1-C5 locus with susceptibility to IgAN and lupus nephritis in two Swedish cohorts.
Patients and Methods
We genotyped 13 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in four genetic loci in 1252 DNA samples from patients with biopsy proven IgAN or with SLE (with and without nephritis) and healthy age- and sex-matched controls from the same population in Sweden.
Genotype and allelic frequencies for SNPs from selected genes did not differ significantly between lupus nephritis patients and SLE patients without nephritis. In addition, haplotype analysis for seven selected SNPs did not reveal a difference for the SLE patient groups with and without nephritis. Moreover, none of these SPNs showed a significant difference between IgAN patients and healthy controls. IRF5 and STAT4 variants remained significantly different between SLE cases and healthy controls. In addition, the data did not show an association of TRAF1-C5 polymorphism with susceptibility to SLE in this Swedish population.
Our data do not support an overlap in genetic susceptibility between patients with IgAN or SLE and reveal no specific importance of SLE associated SNPs for the presence of lupus nephritis.
PMCID: PMC2866667  PMID: 20479942
13.  Predictors of the first cardiovascular event in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus - a prospective cohort study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R186.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of premature mortality among Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. Many studies have measured and evaluated risk factors for premature subclinical atherosclerosis, but few studies are prospective and few have evaluated risk factors for hard endpoints, i.e. clinically important cardiovascular events (CVE). We investigated the impact of traditional and lupus associated risk factors for the first ever CVE in a longitudinal cohort of SLE patients.
A total of 182 SLE patients (mean age 43.9 years) selected to be free of CVE were included. Cardiovascular and autoimmune biomarkers were measured on samples collected after overnight fasting at baseline. Clinical information was collected at baseline and at follow up. End point was the first ever CVE (ischemic heart, cerebrovascular or peripheral vascular disease or death due to CVD). Impact of baseline characteristics/biomarkers on the risk of having a first CVE was evaluated with Cox regression.
Follow up was 99.5% after a mean time of 8.3 years. Twenty-four patients (13%) had a first CVE. In age-adjusted Cox regression, any positive antiphospholipid antibody (aPL), elevated markers of endothelial activation (von Willebrand factor (vWf), soluble vascular cellular adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1)) and fibrinogen predicted CVEs. Of SLE manifestations, arthritis, pleuritis and previous venous occlusion were positively associated with future CVEs while thrombocytopenia was negatively associated. Among traditional risk factors only age and smoking were significant predictors. In a multivariable Cox regression model age, any positive aPL, vWf and absence of thrombocytopenia were all predictors of the first CVE.
In addition to age, positive aPL, biomarkers indicating increased endothelial cell activity/damage, and absence of thrombocytopenia were independent predictors of CVEs in this prospective study. Our results indicate that activation of the endothelium and the coagulation system are important features in SLE related CVD. Furthermore, we observed that the risk of CVEs seems to differ between subgroups of SLE patients.
PMCID: PMC3003532  PMID: 20003285
14.  Identification of MAMDC1 as a Candidate Susceptibility Gene for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8037.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disorder with multiple susceptibility genes. We have previously reported suggestive linkage to the chromosomal region 14q21-q23 in Finnish SLE families.
Principal Findings
Genetic fine mapping of this region in the same family material, together with a large collection of parent affected trios from UK and two independent case-control cohorts from Finland and Sweden, indicated that a novel uncharacterized gene, MAMDC1 (MAM domain containing glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor 2, also known as MDGA2, MIM 611128), represents a putative susceptibility gene for SLE. In a combined analysis of the whole dataset, significant evidence of association was detected for the MAMDC1 intronic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) rs961616 (P –value = 0.001, Odds Ratio (OR) = 1.292, 95% CI 1.103–1.513) and rs2297926 (P –value = 0.003, OR = 1.349, 95% CI 1.109–1.640). By Northern blot, real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and immunohistochemical (IHC) analyses, we show that MAMDC1 is expressed in several tissues and cell types, and that the corresponding mRNA is up-regulated by the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interferon gamma (IFN-γ) in THP-1 monocytes. Based on its homology to known proteins with similar structure, MAMDC1 appears to be a novel member of the adhesion molecules of the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgCAM), which is involved in cell adhesion, migration, and recruitment to inflammatory sites. Remarkably, some IgCAMs have been shown to interact with ITGAM, the product of another SLE susceptibility gene recently discovered in two independent genome wide association (GWA) scans.
Further studies focused on MAMDC1 and other molecules involved in these pathways might thus provide new insight into the pathogenesis of SLE.
PMCID: PMC2785483  PMID: 19997561
15.  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.
PMCID: PMC2525501  PMID: 18579578
16.  Decreased levels of soluble amyloid β-protein precursor and β-amyloid protein in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(2):R129-R136.
Symptoms originating from the central nervous system (CNS) frequently occur in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). These symptoms are extremely diverse, including a state of dementia. The aim of this study was to examine the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) content of soluble molecules indicating axonal degeneration and amyloidogenesis.
One hundred and fourteen patients with SLE and age-matched controls were evaluated clinically, with magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and CSF analyses. Levels of tau, amyloid precursor protein (APP), β-amyloid protein (Aβ42), and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) were all determined using sandwich ELISAs.
APP and Aβ42 levels were significantly decreased in SLE patients irrespective of their CNS involvement, as compared with healthy controls. Patients with neuropsychiatric SLE who underwent a second lumbar puncture following successful cyclophosphamide treatment showed further decreases of Aβ42. CSF-tau levels were significantly increased in SLE patients showing magnetic resonance imaging-verified brain pathology as compared with SLE patients without such engagement. Importantly, tau levels displayed significant correlation to Aβ42 levels in the CSF. Finally, TGF-β levels were significantly increased in patients with neuropsychiatric SLE as compared with those without.
Low intrathecal levels of Aβ42 found in SLE patients seem to be a direct consequence of a diminished production of APP, probably mediated by heavy anti-inflammatory/immuno-suppressive therapy. Furthermore, our findings suggest that CSF tau can be used as a biochemical marker for neuronal degeneration in SLE. Finally, the increased TGF-β levels observed may support a notion of an ongoing anti-inflammatory response counteracting tissue injury caused by CNS lupus.
PMCID: PMC400431  PMID: 15059276
amyloid precursor protein; β-amyloid protein; cerebrospinal fluid; neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus; tau

Results 1-16 (16)