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3.  Lymphoma risk in systemic lupus: effects of disease activity versus treatment 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;73(1):10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202099.
To examine disease activity versus treatment as lymphoma risk factors in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3855611  PMID: 23303389
4.  Thromboembolic risk in patients with high titre anticardiolipin and multiple antiphospholipid antibodies 
Thrombosis and haemostasis  2003;90(1):108-115.
Asymptomatic antiphospholipid antibody (aPL) carriers with high risk for thrombosis may benefit from preventive anticoagulation.
It was our objective to test whether the risk of thrombosis increases with: 1) increasing titres of anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL) after adjustment for other cardiovascular risk factors and 2) the number of aPL detected.
In a cross-sectional study, blood was collected from clinics in two teaching hospitals. The study included 208 individuals suspected of having an aPL and 208 age- and sex-matched controls having blood drawn for a complete blood count.
Clinical variables included history of previous arterial (ATE) or venous (VTE) thrombotic events, traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Laboratory variables included IgG/IgM aCL, lupus anticoagulant, and IgG/IgM anti-β2-glycoprotein I.
Mean age was 46.5 years and 83% were female. Seventy-five of the 416 participants had ≥ 1 aPL, and 69 had confirmed ≥ 1 ATE or VTE. Family history was positive in 48% of participants, smoking in 28%, hypertension in 16%, diabetes in 6%, and SLE in 20%. A 10-unit increase in aCL IgG titre was associated with an odds ratio (OR) [95% CI] of 1.07 [1.01–1.13] for ATE and 1.06 [1.02 – 1.11] for VTE. The odds of a previous thrombosis increased with each additional aPL detected: 1.5 [0.93–2.3] for ATE and 1.7 [1.1–2.5] for VTE.
These results indicate that increased titres of aCL and multiple aPL were associated with an increased risk of a previous thrombotic event.
PMCID: PMC3482244  PMID: 12876633 CAMSID: cams2357
Antiphospholipid syndrome; antiphospholipid antibodies; anti-cardiolipin antibody; thrombosis
5.  Antiphospholipid antibodies and thrombosis: association with acquired activated protein C resistance in venous thrombosis and with hyperhomocysteinemia in arterial thrombosis 
Thrombosis and haemostasis  2004;92(6):1312-1319.
Although antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) are associated with thrombosis, it is not known who with aPL is at higher risk for thrombosis. It was the aim of this cross-sectional study to investigate how thrombophilic factors contribute to venous or arterial thrombosis in aPL-positive individuals. In outpatient test centres at two tertiary care hospitals, two hundred and eight (208) persons requiring aPL testing were matched by age, gender and centre to 208 persons requiring a complete blood count. Persons were classified as aPL-positive (having anticardiolipin, lupus anticoagulant and/or anti-β2-glycoprotein I antibodies) or aPL-negative. Several thrombophilic factors were studied using logistic regression modelling. Results showed that the aPL-positive group had three-fold more events (37%) than the aPL-negative group (12%). In unadjusted analyses, clinically important associations were observed between factor V Leiden and venous thrombosis, hyperhomocysteinemia and arterial thrombosis, and activated protein C resistance (APCR) and venous thrombosis (OR, 95% CI = 4.00, 1.35–11.91; 4.79, 2.03–11.33; and 2.03, 1.03–3.97, respectively). After adjusting for recruitment group, persons with both APCR and aPL had a three-fold greater risk (OR, 95% CI = 3.31, 1.30–8.41) for venous thrombosis than those with neither APCR nor aPL. Similarly, after adjusting for hypertension, family history of cardiovascular disease, gender and recruitment group, persons with both hyperhomocysteinemia and aPL had a five-fold increased risk (OR, 95% CI = 4.90, 1.37–17.37) for arterial thrombosis compared to those with neither risk factor. In conclusion, APCR phenotype and hyperhomocysteinemia are associated with a higher risk of venous and arterial thrombosis, respectively, in the presence of aPL.
PMCID: PMC3482245  PMID: 15583739 CAMSID: cams2359
Antiphospholipid antibodies; antiphospholipid syndrome; thrombosis; activated protein C resistance; hyperhomocysteinemia
6.  Antiphospholipid antibodies predict imminent vascular events independently from other risk factors in a prospective cohort 
Thrombosis and haemostasis  2009;101(1):100-107.
Antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) are associated with vascular events, but the magnitude of this risk, alone, or in combination with other atherogenic and thrombophilic risk factors, remains unclear. A prospective cohort of 415 persons was studied for arterial and venous events (AE and VE) over a median time of 7.4 years. aPL and coagulation abnormalities were measured upon beginning of the study and annually for the first four years. Within the cohort, a nested case-control study was conducted to investigate the role of endothelial and inflammatory markers in predicting new vascular events. Forty-five individuals had new vascular events: 18 occurred during the first year of follow-up. The proportion of event-free survivors at eight years was 90% (95%CI = 87%, 94%) for aPL-negative and 72% (60%, 85%) for aPL-positive individuals, respectively. Predictors for new AE were previous AE (HR=5.7 [2.7, 12.0]), diabetes (5.6 [2.4, 13.2]), aPL positivity (2.6 ([1.2, 5.9]), and age (1.04 [1.01, 1.07]). New VE were predicted by previous VE (6.1 [1.9, 19.9]), anti-β2-glyco-protein I (aβ2GPI) positivity (5.8 [1.4, 24.1]), activated protein C resistance (APCR) (4.1 [1.1, 15.1]), and gender (3.7 [1.1, 12.9]). In the nested case-control study, similar predictors were observed for AE, while abnormal APCR (OR=5.5 [1.1, 26.6]) and elevated von Willebrand factor (vWF) (OR=5.0 [1.2, 19.8]) best predicted VE. We demonstrate that aPL independently predict new vascular events and discriminate between individuals with and without events in the first two years of follow-up, indicating that aPL are associated with a short-term risk of developing new and recurrent vascular events.
PMCID: PMC3435426  PMID: 19132195 CAMSID: cams2314
Antiphospholipid antibodies; thrombosis; anti-beta2-glycoprotein I; activated protein C resistance; von Willebrand factor
7.  Non-Lymphoma Hematological Malignancies in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Oncology  2013;85(4):10.1159/000350165.
To describe non-lymphoma hematological malignancies in SLE.
A large SLE cohort was linked to cancer registries. We examined the types of non-lymphoma hematological cancers.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3880772  PMID: 24107608
Systemic lupus erythematosus; malignancy; cancer
9.  Cancer risk in systemic lupus: An updated international multi-centre cohort study 
Journal of autoimmunity  2013;42:130-135.
To update estimates of cancer risk in SLE relative to the general population.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3646904  PMID: 23410586
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Epidemiology; Treatment; Disease Activity
10.  Designing an Intervention for Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus from Medically Underserved Areas to Improve Care: A Qualitative Study 
Lupus  2012;22(1):52-62.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) disproportionately affects women, racial/ethnic minorities and low-income populations. We held focus groups for women from medically underserved communities to discuss interventions to improve care.
From our Lupus Registry, we invited 282 women, > 18 years, residing in urban, medically underserved areas. Hospital-based clinics and support groups also recruited participants. Women were randomly assigned to 3 focus groups. 75-minute sessions were recorded, transcribed and coded thematically using interpretative phenomenologic analysis and single counting methods. We categorized interventions by benefits, limitations, target populations and implementation questions.
29 women with lupus participated in 3 focus groups, (n=9, 9, 11). 80% were African American and 83% were from medically underserved zip codes. Themes included the desire for lupus education, isolation at the time of diagnosis, emotional and physical barriers to care, and the need for assistance navigating the healthcare system. 20 of 29 participants (69%) favored a peer support intervention; 17 (59%) also supported a lupus health passport. Newly diagnosed women were optimal intervention targets. Improvements in quality of life and mental health were proposed outcome measures.
Women with lupus from medically underserved areas have unique needs best addressed with an intervention designed through collaboration between community members and researchers.
PMCID: PMC3543784  PMID: 23087258
Disparities; qualitative research; African Americans; systemic lupus erythematosus
No new drugs have been approved for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) by the FDA for the last 30 years and one barrier has been the lack of validated of biomarkers and surrogate endpoints. Validation of SLE biomarkers in the past have been methodologically flawed. We put forth a conceptual framework and the five critical criterion for validating putative biomarkers and bio-surrogates in this heterogeneous multi-system disease with protean manifestations. Using the example of a putative biomarker for end-stage renal disease from lupus nephritis, we also performed computer simulations for planning a biomarker bio-repository to support the validation process. “Random time window” sampling where a biomarker is obtained in an interval randomly selected from the total follow-up time for that subject yields serious ‘survival bias’. This can be avoided by the “fixed calendar window” design, in which biomarkers are measured within the same, pre-specified period for all cohort members who remain at risk during that period. In lupus nephritis where the incidence rate of end-stage renal disease is relatively low, to accumulate 300 instances of end-stage renal disease, at risk patients would have to be followed for about 5,000 person-years, implying 500 subjects followed, on average, for about 10 years. Increasing the number of biomarker determinations per subject from one to five reduces the required number of subjects by 10-15%, while further increases of the number of observations per subject yielded much smaller gains. The large numbers of subjects required for a bio-repository, makes it essential to maximize the efficiency of study designs and analyses and provides the strongest rationale for collaboration and the use of standardized measures to ensure comparability.
PMCID: PMC3746003  PMID: 19275685
12.  Derivation and Validation of Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Classification Criteria for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2677-2686.
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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3409311  PMID: 22553077
13.  Association of Autoantibodies to Heat-Shock Protein 60 With Arterial Vascular Events in Patients With Antiphospholipid Antibodies 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(8):2416-2424.
Anti–heat shock protein 60 autoantibodies (anti-Hsp60) are associated with cardiovascular disease and are known to affect endothelial cells in vitro, and we have recently shown that anti-Hsp60 promote thrombosis in a murine model of arterial injury. Based on those findings, we undertook the present study to investigate the hypothesis that the presence of anti-Hsp60, alone or in combination with other thrombogenic risk factors, is associated with an elevated risk of vascular events.
The study population was derived from 3 ongoing cohort studies: 2 independent systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) registries and 1 cohort comprising SLE patients and non-SLE patients. Data from a total of 402 participants were captured; 199 of these participants had had confirmed vascular events (arterial vascular events in 102, venous vascular events in 76, and both arterial and venous vascular events in 21). Anti-Hsp60 were detected by enzyme-linked immunoassay, and association with vascular events was assessed by regression analysis.
Multiple regression analysis revealed that arterial vascular events were associated with male sex, age, and hypertension. Analyses of the vascular events according to their origin showed an association of anti-Hsp60 with arterial vascular events (odds ratio 2.26 [95% confidence interval 1.13–4.52]), but not with venous vascular events. Anti-Hsp60 increased the risk of arterial vascular events (odds ratio 5.54 [95% confidence interval 1.89–16.25]) in antiphospholipid antibody (aPL)–positive, but not aPL-negative, individuals.
We demonstrate that anti-Hsp60 are associated with an increased risk of arterial vascular events, but not venous vascular events, in aPL-positive individuals. These data suggest that anti-Hsp60 may serve as a useful biomarker to distinguish risk of arterial and venous vascular events in patients with aPL.
PMCID: PMC3465366  PMID: 21506099 CAMSID: cams2354
14.  The Presence of Multiple Prothrombotic Risk Factors Is Associated with a Higher Risk of Thrombosis in Individuals with Anticardiolipin Antibodies 
The Journal of rheumatology  2003;30(11):2385-2391.
To explore the effect of multiple prothrombotic risk factors in individuals with anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL), we evaluated immunologic, coagulation, and genetic prothrombotic abnormalities in a cohort of individuals with different aCL titers.
We recruited 87 individuals into 4 categories (normal, low, intermediate, or high) based on their baseline IgG aCL (aCL-IgG) titers. We measured at followup: repeat aCL-IgG, IgM aCL (aCL-IgM), antibodies to β2-glycoprotein I (anti-β2-GPI), lupus anticoagulant (LAC) antibodies, protein C, protein S, activated protein C resistance, factor V506 Leiden mutation, methyl tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T genotype, and prothrombin 20210A gene mutation. Thrombotic events were confirmed.
At recruitment, 20 individuals were negative for aCL-IgG and 67 were positive (22 low, 20 intermediate, and 25 high titer). Twenty of the 87 participants had experienced a previous thrombotic event: 4 in the aCL-IgG negative group and 16 in the aCL-IgG positive group. Among the 87 individuals, the number of those with concomitant prothrombotic risk factors was as follows: 5 had no other prothrombotic risk factors, 32 had 1 risk factor, 24 had 2 risk factors, 10 had 3 risk factors, 10 had 4 risk factors, and 6 had 5 risk factors. Thrombotic events were observed in 20%, 13%, 33%, 10%, 30%, and 50% of these groups, respectively, and the odds ratio associated with a previous thrombotic event was 1.46 per each additional prothrombotic risk factor (95% confidence interval: 1.003–2.134).
In individuals with positive aCL-IgG, we observed an association between the number of prothrombotic risk factors and history of thrombotic events. (J Rheumatol 2003;30:2385–91)
PMCID: PMC3440310  PMID: 14677182 CAMSID: cams2358
15.  Occupational and environmental exposures and risk of systemic lupus erythematosus: silica, sunlight, solvents 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2010;49(11):2172-2180.
Objectives. We examined occupational and non-occupational exposures in relation to risk of SLE in a case–control study conducted through the Canadian Network for Improved Outcomes in SLE (CaNIOS).
Methods. SLE cases (n = 258) were recruited from 11 rheumatology centres across Canada. Controls (without SLE, n = 263) were randomly selected from phone number listings and matched to cases by age, sex and area of residence. Data were collected using a structured telephone interview.
Results. An association was seen with outdoor work in the 12 months preceding diagnosis [odds ratio (OR) 2.0; 95% CI 1.1, 3.8]; effect modification by sun reaction was suggested, with the strongest effect among people who reported reacting to midday sun with a blistering sunburn or a rash (OR 7.9; 95% CI 0.97, 64.7). Relatively strong but imprecise associations were seen with work as an artist working with paints, dyes or developing film (OR 3.9; 95% CI 1.3, 12.3) and work that included applying nail polish or nail applications (OR 10.2; 95% CI 1.3, 81.5). Patients were more likely than controls to report participation in pottery or ceramics work as a leisure activity, with an increased risk among individuals with a total frequency of at least 26 days (OR 2.1; 95% CI 1.1, 3.9). Analyses of potential respirable silica exposures suggested an exposure–response gradient (OR 1.0, 1.4. and 2.1 for zero, one and two or more sources of exposure, respectively; trend test P < 0.01).
Conclusions. This study supports the role of specific occupational and non-occupational exposures in the development of SLE.
PMCID: PMC2954367  PMID: 20675707
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Risk factors; Silica; Ultraviolet radiation; Solvents; Occupation; Environment
16.  Development and Initial Validation of the Self-Assessed Lupus Damage Index Questionnaire (LDIQ) 
Arthritis care & research  2010;62(4):559-568.
The SLICC Damage Index (SDI) is a validated instrument for assessing organ damage in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Trained physicians must complete it, limiting utility where this is impossible.
We developed and pilot-tested a self-assessed organ damage instrument, the Lupus Damage Index Questionnaire (LDIQ), in 37 SLE subjects and 7 physicians. After refinement, 569 English-speaking SLE subjects and 14 rheumatologists from 11 international SLE clinics participated in validation. Subjects and physicians completed instruments separately. We calculated sensitivity, specificity, Spearman correlations and agreement, using the SDI as gold standard. 605 SLE participants in the community-based National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases (NDB) study completed the LDIQ and we assessed correlations with outcome and disability measures.
Mean LDIQ score was 3.3 (0-16) and mean SDI score was 1.5 (0-9). LDIQ had a moderately high correlation with SDI (Spearman r=0.50, p<0.001). Specificities of individual LDIQ items were >80%, except for neuropathy. Sensitivities were variable and lowest for damage with <1% prevalence. Agreement between SDI and LDIQ was > 85% for all but neuropathy, reduced renal function, deforming arthritis and alopecia. In the NDB, LDIQ correlated well with comorbidity index (r=0.45), SF-36 physical component scale (0.43), Medical Research Council dyspnea scale (0.40), disability (0.37) and SLE Activity Questionnaire score (0.37).
The LDIQ’s metric properties are good compared to the SDI. It has construct validity and correlations with health assessments similar to the SDI. The LDIQ should allow expansion of SLE research. Its ultimate value will be determined in longitudinal studies.
PMCID: PMC3179258  PMID: 20391512
systemic lupus erythematosus; questionnaire; damage; SLICC damage index; validation; self-assessed
17.  Validation of the Spanish, Portuguese and French Versions of the Lupus Damage Index Questionnaire: Data from North and South America, Spain and Portugal 
Lupus  2009;18(12):1033-1052.
We have previously developed and validated a self-administered questionnaire, modeled after the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Damage Index (SDI), the Lupus Damage Index Questionnaire (LDIQ), which may allow the ascertainment of this construct in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) patients followed in the community and thus expand observations made about damage. We have now translated, back-translated and adapted the LDIQ to Spanish, Portuguese and French and applied it to patients followed at academic and non-academic centers in North and South America, Portugal and Spain while their physicians scored the SDI. A total of 887 patients (659 Spanish-, 140 Portuguese- and 80 French-speaking) and 40 physicians participated. Overall patients scored higher than their physicians (total score and all domains) for all versions of the LDIQ. Infrequent manifestations had less than optional clinimetric properties but overall agreement was over 95% for the majority of items. The larger sample size may explain the higher correlations observed among the Spanish-speaking patients. Pending minor adjustments, the LDIQ may prove to be useful in community-based studies. The relationship between the LDIQ and other outcome parameters is currently being investigated in a different patient sample.
PMCID: PMC2933049  PMID: 19762375
18.  Genetic Variants Near TNFAIP3 on 6q23 are Associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) 
Nature genetics  2008;40(9):1059-1061.
SLE is an autoimmune disease influenced by genetic and environmental components. We performed a genome-wide association scan (GWAS) and observed novel association evidence with a variant inTNFAIP3(rs5029939, P = 2.89×10−12, OR = 2.29). We also found evidence of two independent signals of association to SLE risk, including one described in Rheumatoid Arthritis. These results establish that genetic variation inTNFAIP3contributes to differential risk for SLE and RA.
PMCID: PMC2772171  PMID: 19165918
19.  Common variants in the NLRP3 region contribute to Crohn's disease susceptibility 
Nature genetics  2008;41(1):71-76.
We used a candidate gene approach to identify a set of SNPs, located in a predicted regulatory region on chromosome 1q44 downstream of NLRP3 (previously known as CIAS1 and NALP3), that are associated with Crohn's disease. The associations were consistently replicated in four sample sets from individuals of European descent. In the combined analysis of all samples (710 father-mother-child trios, 239 cases and 107 controls), these SNPs were strongly associated with risk of Crohn's disease (Pcombined = 3.49 × 10−9, odds ratio = 1.78, confidence interval = 1.47–2.16 for rs10733113), reaching a level consistent with the stringent significance thresholds imposed by whole-genome association studies. In addition, we observed significant associations between SNPs in the associated regions and NLRP3 expression and IL-1β production. Mutations in NLRP3 are known to be responsible for three rare autoinflammatory disorders1,2. These results suggest that the NLRP3 region is also implicated in the susceptibility of more common inflammatory diseases such as Crohn's disease.
PMCID: PMC2728932  PMID: 19098911
20.  Reduced proportions of natural killer T cells are present in the relatives of lupus patients and are associated with autoimmunity 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(5):R108.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a genetically complex disease. Currently, the precise allelic polymorphisms associated with this condition remain largely unidentified. In part this reflects the fact that multiple genes, each having a relatively minor effect, act in concert to produce disease. Given this complexity, analysis of subclinical phenotypes may aid in the identification of susceptibility alleles. Here, we used flow cytometry to investigate whether some of the immune abnormalities that are seen in the peripheral blood lymphocyte population of lupus patients are seen in their first-degree relatives.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated from the subjects, stained with fluorochrome-conjugated monoclonal antibodies to identify various cellular subsets, and analyzed by flow cytometry.
We found reduced proportions of natural killer (NK)T cells among 367 first-degree relatives of lupus patients as compared with 102 control individuals. There were also slightly increased proportions of memory B and T cells, suggesting increased chronic low-grade activation of the immune system in first-degree relatives. However, only the deficiency of NKT cells was associated with a positive anti-nuclear antibody test and clinical autoimmune disease in family members. There was a significant association between mean parental, sibling, and proband values for the proportion of NKT cells, suggesting that this is a heritable trait.
The findings suggest that analysis of cellular phenotypes may enhance the ability to detect subclinical lupus and that genetically determined altered immunoregulation by NKT cells predisposes first-degree relatives of lupus patients to the development of autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC2592790  PMID: 18783591
21.  Clinical associations of the metabolic syndrome in systemic lupus erythematosus: data from an international inception cohort 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(8):1308-1314.
The metabolic syndrome (MetS) may contribute to increased cardiovascular risk in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We aimed to examine the association of demographic factors, lupus phenotype and therapy exposure with the presence of MetS.
The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Registry for Atherosclerosis inception cohort enrolled recently diagnosed (<15 months) SLE patients from 30 centres across 11 countries from 2000. Clinical, laboratory and therapeutic data were collected according to a standardised protocol. MetS was defined according to the 2009 consensus statement from the International Diabetes Federation. Univariate and backward stepwise multivariate logistic regression were used to assess the relationship of individual variables with MetS.
We studied 1686 patients, of whom 1494 (86.6%) had sufficient data to determine their MetS status. The mean (SD) age at enrolment and disease duration was 35.2 years (13.4) and 24.1 weeks (18.0), respectively. MetS was present at the enrolment visit in 239 (16%). In backward stepwise multivariable regression analysis, higher daily average prednisolone dose (mg) (OR 1.02, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.03), older age (years) (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.06), Korean (OR 6.33, 95% CI 3.68 to 10.86) and Hispanic (OR 6.2, 95% CI 3.78 to 10.12) ethnicity, current renal disease (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.14 to 2.80) and immunosuppressant use (OR 1.81, 95% CI 1.18 to 2.78) were associated with MetS.
Renal lupus, higher corticosteroid doses, Korean and Hispanic ethnicity are associated with MetS in SLE patients. Balancing disease control and minimising corticosteroid exposure should therefore be at the forefront of personalised treatment decisions in SLE patients.
PMCID: PMC3711497  PMID: 22945501
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Cardiovascular Disease; Inflammation; Epidemiology

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