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2.  Neurocognitive Deficits and Neuroimaging Abnormalities are Prevalent in Children with Lupus: Clinical and Research Experiences at a US Pediatric Institution 
Lupus  2009;19(3):268-279.
Neurocognitive impairments and neuroimaging abnormalities are frequently observed in adults with SLE. There is a paucity of similar data in childhood-onset disease. We hypothesized that neurocognitive and neuroimaging abnormalities would be prevalent in children undergoing neuropsychological evaluations. We reviewed patient neurocognitive evaluations performed at a large US pediatric institution during 2001-2008. Records were retrieved from 24 children referred to neuropsychology due to clinical indications. Data from 15 children enrolled in a prospective structure-function association study was also analyzed. Subjects were predominantly African-American and Hispanic adolescent girls of average intelligence. aPL positivity and aspirin use was prevalent. Neurocognitive impairment was designated in 70.8% of retrospective, and 46.7% of prospective cohort patients. Deficits were seen at times of wellness, without previous NPSLE, and early in disease courses. Scores > 1.5 SD below published age-matched norms were common in tests of executive functioning, visual memory and visual-spatial planning. Features of depression were seen in 33.3% of the children in the retrospective cohort (clinical referrals). Cerebral and cerebellar volume loss was observed in a majority of blinded prospective cohort research MRIs (73.3% and 67.7% respectively). White matter hyperintensities were observed in retrospective and prospective cohort MRIs (36.6% and 46.7% respectively). Larger prospective studies that elucidate structure-function associations in children with SLE are planned.
PMCID: PMC2980849  PMID: 20026519
systemic lupus erythematosus; neuropsychiatric lupus; cognitive impairment; brain imaging
3.  Damage Extent and Predictors in Adult and Juvenile Dermatomyositis and Polymyositis Using the Myositis Damage Index 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(11):3425-3435.
We validated the Myositis Damage Index (MDI) in juvenile and adult myositis, to describe the degree and types of damage and to develop predictors of damage.
Retrospective MDI evaluations and prospective assessment of disease activity and illness features were conducted. Juvenile-onset patients (n = 143) were evaluated a median of 18 months after diagnosis; 135 patients were assessed 7–9 months later, and 121 were last assessed 82 months after diagnosis. Adult-onset patients (n = 96) with dermatomyositis (DM) or polymyositis (PM) had a baseline assessment a median of 30 months after diagnosis; 77 had a 6-month follow-up evaluation, and 55 had a final assessment 60 months after diagnosis.
Damage was present in 79% of juvenile and 97% of adult patients. In juveniles, scar, contractures, persistent weakness, muscle dysfunction and calcinosis (23–30%) were most frequent on last evaluation. In adults, muscle atrophy, muscle dysfunction and weakness were most frequent (74–84%). MDI severity correlated with physician global damage, functional disability, weakness and muscle atrophy on MRI. MDI damage scores and frequency were highest in patients with a chronic illness course and in adult patients who died. Predictors of damage included functional disability, active disease duration, onset severity, global activity, and illness features, including ulcerations in children and pericarditis in adults.
Damage is common in myositis patients after a median of 5 years duration in adult-onset and 6.8 years in juvenile-onset patients. The MDI has good content, construct and predictive validity in juvenile and adult myositis.
PMCID: PMC2793533  PMID: 19877055
4.  High density genotyping of STAT4 gene reveals multiple haplotypic associations with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in different racial groups 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(4):1085-1095.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the prototypic systemic autoimmune disorder with complex etiology and a strong genetic component. Recently, gene products involved in the interferon pathway have been under intense investigation in SLE pathogenesis. STAT1 and STAT4 are transcription factors that play key roles in the interferon and Th1 signaling pathways, making them attractive candidates for SLE susceptibility.
Fifty-six single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across STAT1 and STAT4 genes on chromosome 2 were genotyped using Illumina platform as a part of extensive association study in a large collection of 9923 lupus cases and controls from different racial groups. DNA from patients and controls was obtained from peripheral blood. Principal component analyses and population based case-control association analyses were performed and the p values, FDR q values and Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated.
We observed strong genetic associations with SLE and multiple SNPs located within the STAT4 gene in different ethnicities (Fisher combined p= 7.02×10−25). In addition to strong confirmation of the association in the 3rd intronic region of this gene reported previously, we identified additional haplotypic association across STAT4 gene and in particular a common risk haplotype that is found in multiple racial groups. In contrast, only a relatively weak suggestive association was observed with STAT1, probably due to the proximity to STAT4.
Our findings indicate that the STAT4 gene is likely to be a crucial component in SLE pathogenesis among multiple racial groups. The functional effects of this association, when revealed, might improve our understanding of the disease and provide new therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC2776081  PMID: 19333953

Results 1-4 (4)