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.
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.
The search for lupus biomarkers to diagnose, monitor, stratify, and predict individual response to therapy is currently more intense than ever before. This effort is essential for several reasons. First, epidemic overdiagnosis and underdiagnosis of lupus, even by certified rheumatologists, leads to errors in therapy with concomitant side effects which may be more serious than the disease itself. Second, identification of lupus flares remains as much an art as it is a science. Third, the capacity to stratify patients so as to predict those who will develop specific patterns of organ involvement is not currently possible but would potentially lead to preventive therapeutic strategies. Fourth, only one new drug for the treatment of lupus has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in over 50 years. A major obstacle in this pipeline is the dearth of biomarkers available to prove a patient has responded to an experimental therapeutic intervention. This review will summarize the challenges faced in the discovery and validation of lupus biomarkers, the most promising lupus biomarkers identified to date, and the promise of future directions.
biomarker; lupus; systemic lupus erythematosus; SLE
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease with increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and depression. Although depression may contribute to CVD risk in population-based studies, its influence on cardiovascular morbidity in SLE has not been evaluated. We evaluated the association between depression and vascular disease in SLE.
A cross-sectional study was conducted from 2002–2005 in 161 women with SLE and without CVD. The primary outcome measure was a composite vascular disease marker consisting of the presence of coronary artery calcium and/or carotid artery plaque.
In total, 101 women met criteria for vascular disease. In unadjusted analyses, several traditional cardiovascular risk factors, inflammatory markers, adiposity, SLE disease-related factors, and depression were associated with vascular disease. In the final multivariable model, the psychological variable depression was associated with nearly 4-fold higher odds for vascular disease (OR 3.85, 95% CI 1.37, 10.87) when adjusted for other risk factors of age, lower education level, hypertensive status, waist-hip ratio, and C-reactive protein.
In SLE, depression is independently associated with vascular disease, along with physical factors.
SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS; CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE; DEPRESSION CALCIFICATION; CAROTID PLAQUE; PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS
Background. The persistent presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (APA) may lead to the development of primary or secondary antiphospholipid syndrome. Although the genetic basis of APA has been suggested, the identity of the underlying genes is largely unknown. In this study, we have performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in an effort to identify susceptibility loci/genes for three main APA: anticardiolipin antibodies (ACL), lupus anticoagulant (LAC), and anti-β2 glycoprotein I antibodies (anti-β2GPI). Methods. DNA samples were genotyped using the Affymetrix 6.0 array containing 906,600 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Association of SNPs with the antibody status (positive/negative) was tested using logistic regression under the additive model. Results. We have identified a number of suggestive novel loci with P < E − 05. Although they do not meet the conservative threshold of genome-wide significance, many of the suggestive loci are potential candidates for the production of APA. We have replicated the previously reported associations of HLA genes and APOH with APA but these were not the top loci. Conclusions. We have identified a number of suggestive novel loci for APA that will stimulate follow-up studies in independent and larger samples to replicate our findings.
To determine the relationship between current hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) use and 2 indicators of glycemic control, fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity, in nondiabetic women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Nondiabetic women with SLE (n = 149) or RA (n = 177) recruited between 2000 and 2005 for a cross-sectional evaluation of cardiovascular risk factors were characterized by HCQ usage status. Unadjusted and multivariately adjusted mean fasting glucose, median insulin, and insulin resistance [assessed by the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR) calculation] were compared among HCQ users and nonusers for disease-specific groups.
More women with SLE were taking HCQ than those with RA (48% vs 18%; p < 0.0001; mean dose ~ 400 mg vs ~ 200 mg). For women with SLE or RA, after adjustment for age, waist circumference, disease duration, prednisone dosage, C-reactive protein, menopausal status, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, and disease-specific indicators, serum glucose was lower in HCQ users than in nonusers (SLE: 85.9 vs 89.3 mg/dl, p = 0.04; RA: 82.5 vs 86.6 mg/dl, p = 0.05). In women with SLE, HCQ use also was associated with lower logHOMA-IR (0.97 vs 1.12, p = 0.09); in those with RA, no differences in logHOMA-IR were seen. HCQ usage was not associated with fasting insulin levels in either patient group.
HCQ use was associated with lower fasting glucose in women with SLE or RA and also lower logHOMA-IR in the SLE group. The use of HCQ may be beneficial for reducing cardiovascu lar risk by improving glycemic control in these patients.
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE; RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS; SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS; HYPERGLYCEMIA; DIABETES MELLITUS
Two F2 functional polymorphisms, rs1799963 (G20210A) and rs3136516 (A19911G), are known to be associated with elevated prothrombin (encoded by F2) levels/activity and thrombosis risk. Since systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients have high risk of thrombosis and accelerated atherosclerosis and also high prevalence of anti-prothrombin antibodies, we hypothesized that these two F2 polymorphisms could affect SLE risk.
We investigated these polymorphisms in 627 women with SLE (84% Caucasian Americans, 16% African Americans) and 657 female controls (78% Caucasian Americans, 22% African Americans).
While the rs1799963 A allele was almost absent in African Americans, it was present at ~2% frequency in Caucasian Americans and showed no significant association with SLE. The rs3136516 G allele frequency was significantly higher in Caucasian SLE cases than controls (48.4% vs. 43.7%) with a covariate-adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 1.22 (95%CI: 1.03–1.46; P = 0.023). The association was replicated in African Americans (rs3136516 G allele frequency: 91.2% in cases vs. 82.2% in controls) with an adjusted OR of 1.96 (95%CI: 1.08–3.58; P = 0.022). Stratification of Caucasian SLE patients based on the presence or absence of cardiac and vascular events (CVE) revealed stronger association with the CVE-positive SLE subgroup than the CVE-negative SLE subgroup (OR: 1.42 vs. 1.20). Prothrombin activity measurements in a subset of SLE cases demonstrated higher activity in the carriers of the rs3136516 G allele.
Our results suggest a potential role for prothrombin and the crosstalk between hemostatic and immune/inflammatory systems in SLE and SLE-associated cardiovascular events, which warrant further investigation in independent samples.
lupus; prothrombin; F2; polymorphism; A19911G; G20210A
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.
systemic lupus erythematosus; questionnaire; damage; SLICC damage index; validation; self-assessed
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a clinically heterogeneous, systemic autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody formation. Previously published genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have investigated SLE as a single phenotype. Therefore, we conducted a GWAS to identify genetic factors associated with anti–dsDNA autoantibody production, a SLE–related autoantibody with diagnostic and clinical importance. Using two independent datasets, over 400,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were studied in a total of 1,717 SLE cases and 4,813 healthy controls. Anti–dsDNA autoantibody positive (anti–dsDNA +, n = 811) and anti–dsDNA autoantibody negative (anti–dsDNA –, n = 906) SLE cases were compared to healthy controls and to each other to identify SNPs associated specifically with these SLE subtypes. SNPs in the previously identified SLE susceptibility loci STAT4, IRF5, ITGAM, and the major histocompatibility complex were strongly associated with anti–dsDNA + SLE. Far fewer and weaker associations were observed for anti–dsDNA – SLE. For example, rs7574865 in STAT4 had an OR for anti–dsDNA + SLE of 1.77 (95% CI 1.57–1.99, p = 2.0E-20) compared to an OR for anti–dsDNA – SLE of 1.26 (95% CI 1.12–1.41, p = 2.4E-04), with pheterogeneity<0.0005. SNPs in the SLE susceptibility loci BANK1, KIAA1542, and UBE2L3 showed evidence of association with anti–dsDNA + SLE and were not associated with anti–dsDNA – SLE. In conclusion, we identified differential genetic associations with SLE based on anti–dsDNA autoantibody production. Many previously identified SLE susceptibility loci may confer disease risk through their role in autoantibody production and be more accurately described as autoantibody propensity loci. Lack of strong SNP associations may suggest that other types of genetic variation or non-genetic factors such as environmental exposures have a greater impact on susceptibility to anti–dsDNA – SLE.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can involve virtually any organ system. SLE patients produce antibodies that bind to their own cells and proteins (autoantibodies) which can cause irreversible organ damage. One particular SLE–related autoantibody directed at double-stranded DNA (anti–dsDNA) is associated with kidney involvement and more severe disease. Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in SLE have studied SLE itself, not particular SLE manifestations. Therefore, we conducted this GWAS of anti–dsDNA autoantibody production to identify genetic associations with this clinically important autoantibody. We found that many previously identified SLE–associated genes are more strongly associated with anti–dsDNA autoantibody production than SLE itself, and they may be more accurately described as autoantibody propensity genes. No strong genetic associations were observed for SLE patients who do not produce anti–dsDNA autoantibodies, suggesting that other factors may have more influence in developing this type of SLE. Further investigation of these autoantibody propensity genes may lead to greater insight into the causes of autoantibody production and organ damage in SLE.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a genetically complex disease with heterogeneous clinical manifestations. Recent studies have greatly expanded the number of established SLE risk alleles, but the distribution of multiple risk alleles in cases versus controls and their relationship to subphenotypes have not been studied. We studied 22 SLE susceptibility polymorphisms with previous genome-wide evidence of association (p<5×10−8) in 1919 SLE cases from 9 independent Caucasian SLE case series and 4813 independent controls. The mean number of risk alleles in cases was 15.1 (SD 3.1) while the mean in controls was 13.1 (SD 2.8), with trend p = 4×10−128. We defined a genetic risk score (GRS) for SLE as the number of risk alleles with each weighted by the SLE risk odds ratio (OR). The OR for high-low GRS tertiles, adjusted for intra-European ancestry, sex, and parent study, was 4.4 (95% CI 3.8–5.1). We studied associations of individual SNPs and the GRS with clinical manifestations for the cases: age at diagnosis, the 11 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria, and double-stranded DNA antibody (anti-dsDNA) production. Six subphenotypes were significantly associated with the GRS, most notably anti-dsDNA (ORhigh-low = 2.36, p = 9e−9), the immunologic criterion (ORhigh-low = 2.23, p = 3e−7), and age at diagnosis (ORhigh-low = 1.45, p = 0.0060). Finally, we developed a subphenotype-specific GRS (sub-GRS) for each phenotype with more power to detect cumulative genetic associations. The sub-GRS was more strongly associated than any single SNP effect for 5 subphenotypes (the above plus hematologic disorder and oral ulcers), while single loci are more significantly associated with renal disease (HLA-DRB1, OR = 1.37, 95% CI 1.14–1.64) and arthritis (ITGAM, OR = 0.72, 95% CI 0.59–0.88). We did not observe significant associations for other subphenotypes, for individual loci or the sub-GRS. Thus our analysis categorizes SLE subphenotypes into three groups: those having cumulative, single, and no known genetic association with respect to the currently established SLE risk loci.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic disabling autoimmune disease, most commonly striking women in their thirties or forties. It can cause a wide variety of clinical manifestations, including kidney disease, arthritis, and skin disorders. Prognosis varies greatly depending on these clinical features, with kidney disease and related characteristics leading to greater morbidity and mortality. It is also complex genetically; while lupus runs in families, genes increase one's risk for lupus but do not fully determine the outcome. The interactions of multiple genes and/or interactions between genes and environmental factors may cause lupus, but the causes and disease pathways of this very heterogeneous disease are not well understood. By examining relationships between the presence of multiple lupus risk genes, lupus susceptibility, and clinical manifestations, we hope to better understand how lupus is triggered and by what biological pathways it progresses. We show in this work that certain clinical manifestations of lupus are highly associated with cumulative genetic variations, i.e. multiple risk alleles, while others are associated with a single variation or none at all.
This study characterized the human apolipoprotein H (APOH, a.k.a. β2-glycoprotein I) promoter and its variants by in vitro functional experiments and investigated their relation with human plasma β2GPI levels. We examined the individual effects of 12 APOH promoter SNPs in the 5' flanking region of APOH (~1.4 kb) on luciferase activity in COS-1 cells and HepG2 cells and their impact on plasma β2GPI levels in 799 U.S. Whites, the DNA-binding properties of APOH promoter using electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) in HepG2 cells, the effects of serial deletion analysis of APOH 5' flanking region in COS-1 and HepG2 cells, and cross-species conservation of the APOH promoter sequence. The variant alleles of three SNPs (−1219G>A, −643T>C and −32C>A) showed significantly lower luciferase expression (51%, 40% and 37%, respectively) as compared to the wild-type allele. EMSA demonstrated that these three variants specifically bind with protein(s) from HepG2 cell nuclear extracts. Three-site haplotype analysis (−1219G>A, −643T>C, and −32C>A) revealed one haplotype carrying −32A (allele frequency = 0.075) to be significantly associated with decreased plasma β2GPI levels (P < 0.001). Deletion analysis localized the core APOH promoter to ~160 bp upstream of ATG codon with the presence of critical cis-acting elements between −166 and −65. Cross-species conservation analysis of the APOH promoters of 7 species indicated that basic promoter elements are highly conserved across species. In conclusion, we have characterized the functional promoter of APOH and identified functional variants that affect the transcriptional activity of the APOH promoter.
APOH; β2-glycoprotein I; promoter; polymorphisms; association
Low serum paraoxonase (PON) activity is associated with the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Our prior studies have shown that the PON1/rs662 (p.Gln192Arg), PON1/rs854560 (p.Leu55Met), PON3/rs17884563 and PON3/rs740264 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) significantly affect serum PON activity. Since PON1, PON2 and PON3 share high degree of structural and functional properties, in this study, we examined the role of PON2 genetic variation on serum PON activity, risk of SLE and SLE-related clinical manifestations in a Caucasian case-control sample.
PON2 SNPs were selected from HapMap and SeattleSNPs databases by including at least one tagSNP from each bin defined in these resources. A total of nineteen PON2 SNPs were successfully genotyped in 411 SLE cases and 511 healthy controls using pyrosequencing, restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) or TaqMan allelic discrimination methods.
Our pair-wise linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis, using an r2 cutoff of 0.7, identified 14 PON2 tagSNPs that captured all 19 PON2 variants in our sample, 12 of which were not in high LD with known PON1 and PON3 SNP modifiers of PON activity. Stepwise regression analysis of PON activity, including the known modifiers, identified five PON2 SNPs [rs6954345 (p.Ser311Cys), rs13306702, rs987539, rs11982486, and rs4729189; P = 0.005 to 2.1 × 10-6] that were significantly associated with PON activity. We found no association of PON2 SNPs with SLE risk but modest associations were observed with lupus nephritis (rs11981433, rs17876205, rs17876183) and immunologic disorder (rs11981433) in SLE patients (P = 0.013 to 0.042).
Our data indicate that PON2 genetic variants significantly affect variation in serum PON activity and have modest effects on risk of lupus nephritis and SLE-related immunologic disorder.
Women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have premature and accelerated atherosclerosis. Although percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is utilized frequently to treat coronary artery disease (CAD) in SLE, little is known regarding PCI outcomes immediately post-PCI and after discharge.
Methods and Results
Baseline demographic, procedure-related and adverse outcome data on consecutive patients undergoing PCI during 5 recruitment “waves” of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Dynamic Registry across 23 clinical centers were collected. SLE patients (n= 28) were compared to nonSLE patients (n=3385). SLE patients were younger and more often female in comparison to nonSLE patients undergoing PCI. SLE patients were less likely than nonSLE patients to have hyperlipidemia, but had a similar prevalence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and tobacco use. The prevalence of multi-vessel disease was similar between groups. Initial intervention success (by angiographic definition) was not significantly different between groups. At one year, SLE patients were more likely to suffer a myocardial infarction (MI) (15.6% vs. 4.8%, p=0.01), and more often required repeat PCI (31.3% vs. 11.8%, p=0.009) than nonSLE patients, even following adjustment for important covariates.
SLE patients had significantly worse CV outcomes at one year than nonSLE patients. Even considering the small number of SLE patients, these differences were striking. Further study is warranted to explore other factors potentially accounting for this disparity, including SLE disease activity and duration, presence of hypercoagulable state, and immunosuppressive therapy.
angioplasty; catheterization; restenosis; revascularization; systemic lupus erythematosus
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.
Disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is typically monitored by measuring serum C3 and C4. However, these proteins have limited utility as lupus biomarkers, because they are substrates rather than products of complement activation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of measuring the erythrocyte-bound complement activation products, erythrocyte-bound C3d (E-C3d) and E-C4d, compared with that of serum C3 and C4 for monitoring disease activity in patients with SLE.
The levels of E-C3d and E-C4d were measured by flow cytometry in 157 patients with SLE, 290 patients with other diseases, and 256 healthy individuals. The patients with SLE were followed up longitudinally. Disease activity was measured at each visit, using the validated Systemic Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM) and the Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus: National Assessment (SELENA) version of the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI).
At baseline, patients with SLE had higher median levels of E-C3d and E-C4d (P < 0.0001) in addition to higher within-patient and between-patient variability in both E-C3d and E-C4d when compared with the 2 non-SLE groups. In a longitudinal analysis of patients with SLE, E-C3d, E-C4d, serum C3, and anti–double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies were each significantly associated with the SLAM and SELENA–SLEDAI. In a multivariable analysis, E-C4d remained significantly associated with these SLE activity measures after adjusting for serum C3, C4, and anti-dsDNA antibodies; however, E-C3d was associated with the SLAM but not with the SELENA–SLEDAI.
Determining the levels of the erythrocyte-bound complement activation products, especially E-C4d, is an informative measure of SLE disease activity as compared with assessing serum C4 levels and should be considered for monitoring disease activity in patients with SLE.
To determine whether genetic substructure in European-derived populations is associated with specific manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), including mucocutaneous phenotypes, autoantibody production, and renal disease.
SLE patients of European descent (n=1754) from 8 case collections were genotyped for over 1,400 ancestry informative markers that define a north/south gradient of European substructure. Based on these genetic markers, we used the STRUCTURE program to characterize each SLE patient in terms of percent northern (vs. southern) European ancestry. Non-parametric methods, including tests of trend, were used to identify associations between northern European ancestry and specific SLE manifestations.
In multivariate analyses, increasing levels of northern European ancestry were significantly associated with photosensitivity (ptrend=0.0021, OR for highest quartile of northern European ancestry compared to lowest quartile 1.64, 95% CI 1.13–2.35) and discoid rash (ptrend=0.014, ORhigh-low 1.93, 95% CI 0.98–3.83). In contrast, northern European ancestry was protective for anticardiolipin (ptrend=1.6 × 10−4, ORhigh-low 0.46, 95% CI 0.30–0.69) and anti-dsDNA (ptrend=0.017, ORhigh-low 0.67, 95% CI 0.46–0.96) autoantibody production.
This study demonstrates that specific SLE manifestations vary according to northern vs. southern European ancestry. Thus, genetic ancestry may contribute to the clinical heterogeneity and variation in disease outcomes among SLE patients of European descent. Moreover, these results suggest that genetic studies of SLE subphenotypes will need to carefully address issues of population substructure due to genetic ancestry.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is frequently misdiagnosed due to the lack of definitive diagnostic tests. The purpose of this study was to determine specifically whether complement activation products (CAP) are deposited on lymphocytes of SLE patients and whether lymphocyte-bound CAP (LB-CAP) may serve as novel biomarkers for the diagnosis of SLE. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 224 patients with SLE, 179 patients with other diseases, and 114 healthy controls. LB-CAP on peripheral blood lymphocytes was measured by flow cytometry. Diagnostic utility of LB-CAP was determined by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. Significantly elevated levels of C4d and C3d were detected specifically on T and B lymphocytes (designated T-C4d, T-C3d, B-C4d, and B-C3d) of SLE patients. As diagnostic tools, T-C4d and B-C4d, respectively, were 56% sensitive/80% specific and 60% sensitive/82% specific in differentiating SLE from other diseases. Moreover, compared with measurement of anti-dsDNA, serum C3, or serum C4, measurement of T-C4d/B-C4d was significantly more sensitive in identifying SLE patients during a single clinic visit. This is the first investigation of lymphocytes bearing complement activation products in human disease. T-C4d and B-C4d have high diagnostic sensitivity and specificity for SLE and may have added value to current laboratory tests for SLE diagnosis.
systemic lupus erythematosus; SLE; lupus; complement; biomarker
Objectives. To determine the associations between depression, cardiovascular risk factors and coronary artery calcification (CAC) in women with SLE and controls.
Methods. CAC was measured using electron-beam CT (EBCT). Traditional, inflammatory and lupus-related risk factors as well as depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale—CES-D) were measured at a single study visit in 161 women with SLE and 161 age- and race frequency-matched female healthy controls.
Results. Women with SLE reported more depressive symptoms than controls, with 27% of SLE and 15% of controls having CES-D scores suggestive of clinical depression. SLE women were more likely to have CAC, as well as more severe CAC compared with controls. Among the SLE women, depression was associated with greater than 2-fold odds of having any CAC [odds ratio (OR) 2.48; 95% CI 1.05, 5.87; P = 0.04], independent of traditional risk factors (age, hypertension and triglycerides) and inflammatory markers. However, when BMI was included among the covariates, the association between depression and CAC was attenuated, indicating the potential mediating role of BMI. Depression was not a risk factor for CAC in controls.
Conclusions. In women with SLE, depression was associated with CAC. This association was mediated by BMI. Depression and adiposity may add to the inflammatory burden of SLE, thus contributing to cardiovascular disease risk.
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Calcified tissue; Cardiovascular; Depression; CT scanning; Adipose tissue; Psychosocial factors; Risk factors; Inflammation
Racial differences exist in disease rates and mortality in both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). The objective of this cross-sectional study was to compare the frequency of and risk factors for subclinical CVD in African-American (AA) and Caucasian women with SLE and no prior CVD events.
Traditional CVD risk factors and SLE-related factors were assessed in 309 SLE women. Subclinical CVD was assessed by carotid ultrasound to measure intima-medial thickness (IMT) and plaque, and electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) to measure coronary artery calcium (CAC).
AA had less education, higher body mass index, blood pressure, lipoprotein(a), CRP, fibrinogen, and ESR, but lower albumin; more and longer duration of corticosteroid use; higher SLE disease activity and damage; and more had dsDNA antibodies compared to Caucasian women, after adjustment for age and study-site. More AA had carotid plaque (adjusted OR 1.94, 95%CI 1.03, 3.65) and higher carotid IMT (0.620 vs. 0.605mm, p=0.07) compared with Caucasians, but similar CAC. Multivariate analysis included risk factor variables significantly different between the racial groups and associated with plaque: blood pressure, current corticosteroid use, SLE disease activity and damage. All factors contributed, but no individual risk factor fully accounted for the association between race and plaque.
In conclusion, the presence of carotid plaque was higher in AA compared with Caucasian women with SLE, in contrast to studies of non-SLE subjects, where AA have similar or less plaque than Caucasians. A combination of SLE-related and traditional CVD risk factors explained the racial difference in plaque burden.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Race; Cardiovascular Disease
Sequence variation in gene promoters is often associated with disease risk. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that common promoter variation in the APOH gene (encoding for β2-glycoprotein I) is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) risk and SLE-related clinical phenotypes in a Caucasian cohort.
We used a case-control design and genotyped 345 SLE women and 454 healthy control women for 8 APOH promoter single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (−1284C>G, −1219G>A, −1190G>C, −759 A>G, − 700C>A, −643T>C, −38G>A, and −32C>A). Association analyses were performed on single SNPs and haplotypes. Haplotype analyses were performed using EH (Estimate Haplotype-frequencies) and Haploview programs. In vitro reporter gene assay was performed in COS-1 cells. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) was performed using HepG2 nuclear cells.
Overall haplotype distribution of the APOH promoter SNPs was significantly different between cases and controls (P = 0.009). The −643C allele was found to be protective against carotid plaque formation (adjusted OR = 0.37, P = 0.013) among SLE patients. The −643C allele was associated with a ~ 2-fold decrease in promoter activity as compared to wild-type −643T allele (mean ± standard deviation: 3.94 ± 0.05 vs. 6.99 ± 0.68, P = 0.016). EMSA showed that the −643T>C SNP harbors a binding site for a nuclear factor. The −1219G>A SNP showed a significant association with the risk of lupus nephritis (age-adjusted OR = 0.36, P = 0.016).
Our data indicate that APOH promoter variants may be involved in the etiology of SLE, especially the risk for autoimmune-mediated cardiovascular disease.
APOH; β2-glycoprotein I; promoter; SLE; lupus; polymorphism
The gene coding for C-reactive protein (CRP) is located on chromosome 1q23.2, which falls within a linkage region thought to harbor a systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility gene. Recently, two SNPs in the CRP gene (+838, +2043) have been shown to be associated with CRP levels and/or SLE risk in a British family-based cohort. The current study was done to confirm the reported association in an independent population-based case-control cohort, and also to investigate the impact of three additional CRP tagSNPs (-861, -390, +90) on SLE risk and serum CRP levels.
DNA from 337 white women who met the ACR criteria for definite (n = 324) or probable (n = 13) SLE and 448 white female healthy controls was genotyped for five CRP tagSNPs (-861, -390, +90, +838, +2043). Genotyping was performed using PCR-RFLP, pyrosequencing or TaqMan assays. Serum CRP levels were measured using ELISA. Association studies were performed using the χ2 distribution, Z-test, Fisher's exact test and ANOVA. Haplotype analysis was performed using EH software and haplo.stats package in R 2.1.2.
While none of the SNPs were found to be associated with SLE risk individually, there was an association with the five-SNP haplotypes (p<0.000001). Three SNPs (-861, -390, +90) were found to significantly influence serum CRP level in SLE cases, both independently and as haplotypes.
Our data suggests that unique haplotype combinations in the CRP gene may modify the risk of developing SLE and influence circulating CRP levels.
Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have increased risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. We compared the presence of coronary artery calcium (CAC) in age- and race-matched women with SLE, RA, and healthy controls without diabetes mellitus or history of myocardial infarct, angina pectoris or stroke, and investigated its relation with traditional risk factors, inflammation, and endothelial activation. Study subjects completed cardiovascular risk factor assessment and electron-beam computed tomography that measured CAC. Both female patient groups had similar prevalence and extent of CAC as well as a significant increased odds of having any CAC (odds ratio 1.87, 95% CI 1.09-3.21) and more extensive CAC (odds ratio 4.04, 95% CI 1.42-11.56 for CAC score>100) when compared to healthy controls. After controlling for differences in cardiovascular risk factors, including insulin resistance and hypertension, the results remained statistically significant. After adjustment for differences in levels of C-reactive protein and/or soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, however, women with chronic inflammatory diseases no longer had significantly increased odds of having any CAC or more extensive CAC when compared to controls. In conclusion, asymptomatic and non-diabetic women with chronic inflammatory diseases had significantly increased odds of having CAC and more extensive CAC when compared to age- and race-matched healthy controls. The increased odds for coronary artery calcium may in part result from higher levels of inflammation and endothelial activation in these patients.
Systemic lupus erythematosus; prevalence; epidemiology; ethnicity; gender; age
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a genetically complex disease with heterogeneous clinical manifestations. A polymorphism in the STAT4 gene has recently been established as a risk factor for SLE, but the relationship with specific SLE subphenotypes has not been studied. We studied 137 SNPs in the STAT4 region genotyped in 4 independent SLE case series (total n = 1398) and 2560 healthy controls, along with clinical data for the cases. Using conditional testing, we confirmed the most significant STAT4 haplotype for SLE risk. We then studied a SNP marking this haplotype for association with specific SLE subphenotypes, including autoantibody production, nephritis, arthritis, mucocutaneous manifestations, and age at diagnosis. To prevent possible type-I errors from population stratification, we reanalyzed the data using a subset of subjects determined to be most homogeneous based on principal components analysis of genome-wide data. We confirmed that four SNPs in very high LD (r2 = 0.94 to 0.99) were most strongly associated with SLE, and there was no compelling evidence for additional SLE risk loci in the STAT4 region. SNP rs7574865 marking this haplotype had a minor allele frequency (MAF) = 31.1% in SLE cases compared with 22.5% in controls (OR = 1.56, p = 10−16). This SNP was more strongly associated with SLE characterized by double-stranded DNA autoantibodies (MAF = 35.1%, OR = 1.86, p<10−19), nephritis (MAF = 34.3%, OR = 1.80, p<10−11), and age at diagnosis<30 years (MAF = 33.8%, OR = 1.77, p<10−13). An association with severe nephritis was even more striking (MAF = 39.2%, OR = 2.35, p<10−4 in the homogeneous subset of subjects). In contrast, STAT4 was less strongly associated with oral ulcers, a manifestation associated with milder disease. We conclude that this common polymorphism of STAT4 contributes to the phenotypic heterogeneity of SLE, predisposing specifically to more severe disease.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic disabling autoimmune disease, most commonly striking women in their thirties or forties. It can cause a wide variety of clinical manifestations, including kidney disease, arthritis, and skin disorders. Prognosis varies greatly depending on these clinical features, with kidney disease and related characteristics leading to greater morbidity and mortality. It is also complex genetically; while lupus runs in families, genes increase one’s risk for lupus but do not fully determine the outcome. It is thought that the interactions of multiple genes and/or interactions between genes and environmental factors may cause lupus, but the causes and disease pathways of this very heterogeneous disease are not well understood. By examining relationships between subtypes of lupus and specific genes, we hope to better understand how lupus is triggered and by what biological pathways it progresses. We show in this work that the STAT4 gene, very recently identified as a lupus risk gene, predisposes specifically to severe manifestations of lupus, including kidney disease.