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1.  Lupus risk variants in the PXK locus alter B-cell receptor internalization 
Frontiers in Genetics  2015;5:450.
Genome wide association studies have identified variants in PXK that confer risk for humoral autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), rheumatoid arthritis and more recently systemic sclerosis. While PXK is involved in trafficking of epidermal growth factor Receptor (EGFR) in COS-7 cells, mechanisms linking PXK to lupus pathophysiology have remained undefined. In an effort to uncover the mechanism at this locus that increases lupus-risk, we undertook a fine-mapping analysis in a large multi-ancestral study of lupus patients and controls. We define a large (257kb) common haplotype marking a single causal variant that confers lupus risk detected only in European ancestral populations and spans the promoter through the 3′ UTR of PXK. The strongest association was found at rs6445972 with P < 4.62 × 10−10, OR 0.81 (0.75–0.86). Using stepwise logistic regression analysis, we demonstrate that one signal drives the genetic association in the region. Bayesian analysis confirms our results, identifying a 95% credible set consisting of 172 variants spanning 202 kb. Functionally, we found that PXK operates on the B-cell antigen receptor (BCR); we confirmed that PXK influenced the rate of BCR internalization. Furthermore, we demonstrate that individuals carrying the risk haplotype exhibited a decreased rate of BCR internalization, a process known to impact B cell survival and cell fate. Taken together, these data define a new candidate mechanism for the genetic association of variants around PXK with lupus risk and highlight the regulation of intracellular trafficking as a genetically regulated pathway mediating human autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC4288052  PMID: 25620976
lupus; PXK; fine-mapping; B cells; BCR
2.  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
3.  A Polymorphism in TLR2 Is Associated With Arterial Thrombosis in a Multiethnic Population of Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Thrombosis is a serious complication of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Studies that have investigated the genetics of thrombosis in SLE are limited. We undertook this study to assess the association of previously implicated candidate genes, particularly Toll-like receptor (TLR) genes, with pathogenesis of thrombosis.
We genotyped 3,587 SLE patients from 3 multiethnic populations for 77 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 10 genes, primarily in TLRs 2, 4, 7, and 9, and we also genotyped 64 ancestry-informative markers (AIMs). We first analyzed association with arterial and venous thrombosis in the combined population via logistic regression, adjusting for top principal components of the AIMs and other covariates. We also subjected an associated SNP, rs893629, to meta-analysis (after stratification by ethnicity and study population) to confirm the association and to test for study population or ethnicity effects.
In the combined analysis, the SNP rs893629 in the KIAA0922/TLR2 region was significantly associated with arterial thrombosis (logistic P = 6.4 × 10−5, false discovery rate P = 0.0044). Two additional SNPs in TLR2 were also suggestive: rs1816702 (logistic P = 0.002) and rs4235232 (logistic P = 0.009). In the meta-analysis by study population, the odds ratio (OR) for arterial thrombosis with rs893629 was 2.44 (95% confidence interval 1.58–3.76), without evidence for heterogeneity (P = 0.78). By ethnicity, the effect was most significant among African Americans (OR 2.42, P = 3.5 × 10−4) and European Americans (OR 3.47, P = 0.024).
TLR2 gene variation is associated with thrombosis in SLE, particularly among African Americans and European Americans. There was no evidence of association among Hispanics, and results in Asian Americans were limited due to insufficient sample size. These results may help elucidate the pathogenesis of this important clinical manifestation.
PMCID: PMC4269184  PMID: 24578102
4.  Value of Isolated IgA anti-β2GPI Positivity in the Diagnosis of the Antiphospholipid Syndrome 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(12):3186-3193.
To examine the prevalence of isolated IgA anti-β2Glycoprotein I (anti-β2GPI) positivity and the association of these antibodies, and a subgroup that bind specifically to domain IV/V of β2GPI, with clinical manifestations of the Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS) in three patients groups. The pathogenicity of IgA anti-β2GPI was also evaluated in a mouse model of thrombosis.
Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) from a multiethnic, multicenter cohort (LUpus in MInorities, NAture versus nurture [LUMINA]) (n=558), patients with SLE from the Hopkins Lupus Cohort (n=215), and serum samples referred to the Antiphospholipid Standardization Laboratory (APLS) (n=5,098) were evaluated. IgA anti-β2GPI titers and binding to domain IV/V of β2GPI were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). CD1 mice were inoculated with purified IgA anti- β2GPI antibodies, and surgical procedures and ELISAs were performed to evaluate thrombus development and tissue factor (TF) activity.
A total of 198 patients were found to be positive for IgA anti-β2GPI isotype, and 57 patients were positive exclusively for IgA anti-β2GPI antibodies. Of these, 13 of 23 patients (56.5%) in the LUMINA cohort, 17 of 17 patients (100%) in the Hopkins cohort, and 10 of 17 patients (58.9%) referred to APLS had at least one APS-related clinical manifestation. Fifty-four percent of all the IgA anti-β2GPI positive serum samples reacted with domain IV/V of anti-β2GPI, and 77% of those had clinical features of APS. Isolated IgA anti-β2GPI positivity was associated with an increased risk for arterial thrombosis (p<0.001), venous thrombosis (p=0.015) and all thrombosis (p<0.001). The association between isolated IgA anti-β2GPI and arterial thrombosis (p=0.0003) and all thrombosis (p=0.0003) remained significant after adjusting for other risk factors for thrombosis. In vivo mouse studies demonstrated that IgA anti-β2GPI antibodies induced significantly larger thrombi and higher TF levels compared to controls.
Isolated IgA anti-β2GPI positive titers may identify additional patients with clinical features of APS. Testing for these antibodies when other antiphospholipid (aPL) tests are negative and APS is suspected is recommended. IgA anti-β2GPI antibodies directed to domain IV/V of β2GPI represent an important subgroup of clinically relevant antiphospholipids.
PMCID: PMC4048705  PMID: 23983008
5.  Lymphotoxin-LIGHT Pathway Regulates the Interferon Signature in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112545.
A subset of patients with autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and lupus appear to be exposed continually to interferon (IFN) as evidenced by elevated expression of IFN induced genes in blood cells. In lupus, detection of endogenous chromatin complexes by the innate sensing machinery is the suspected driver for the IFN, but the actual mechanisms remain unknown in all of these diseases. We investigated in two randomized clinical trials the effects on RA patients of baminercept, a lymphotoxin-beta receptor-immunoglobulin fusion protein that blocks the lymphotoxin-αβ/LIGHT axis. Administration of baminercept led to a reduced RNA IFN signature in the blood of patients with elevated baseline signatures. Both RA and SLE patients with a high IFN signature were lymphopenic and lymphocyte counts increased following baminercept treatment of RA patients. These data demonstrate a coupling between the lymphotoxin-LIGHT system and IFN production in rheumatoid arthritis. IFN induced retention of lymphocytes within lymphoid tissues is a likely component of the lymphopenia observed in many autoimmune diseases. NCT00664716.
PMCID: PMC4236099  PMID: 25405351
6.  Vitamin D deficiency does not predict progression of coronary artery calcium, carotid intima–media thickness or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2013;52(11):2071-2076.
Objective. Vitamin D deficiency is common in SLE. Cardioprotective effects of vitamin D have been postulated due to modulation of inflammatory cytokines. However, the effects of vitamin D supplementation on inflammatory cytokines in trials have been inconsistent. We determined whether levels of vitamin D at baseline were associated with subclinical measures of atherosclerosis, or with changes in subclinical measures over 2 years.
Methods. Of the 200 patients enrolled in the Lupus Atherosclerosis Prevention Study, complete baseline and follow-up data [including coronary artery calcium (CAC), carotid intima–media thickness (IMT), 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] and high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP) levels] were available for 154 patients. Assessments were repeated 2 years later.
Results. 25(OH)D values ranged from 4 to 79 ng/ml. Among African American patients, 25(OH)D values ranged from 4 to 55 ng/ml. With low 25(OH)D (vitamin D <21 ng/ml), a higher proportion had a CAC score >100 (11%) compared with those with vitamin D insufficiency (21–32 ng/ml) (10%) and normal (≥32 ng/ml) 25(OH)D (3%), which was not statistically significant. 25(OH)D was neither associated with nor did it predict progression of CAC or carotid IMT over 2 years. The mean hsCRP decreased over 2 years.
Conclusion. 25(OH)D was not associated with any measure of subclinical atherosclerosis. 25(OH)D deficiency was associated with higher hsCRP at baseline, but did not predict a change in hsCRP over 2 years.
PMCID: PMC3798716  PMID: 23955647
systemic lupus erythematosus; atherosclerosis; vitamin D
7.  Omega-3 in SLE: a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial of endothelial dysfunction and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Rheumatology international  2013;33(11):2789-2796.
Accelerated atherosclerosis remains a major cause of death in late systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Omega-3 has been reported to have benefit for endothelial dysfunction, one of the earliest stages of atherosclerosis, and to reduce disease activity in SLE. We performed a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial to examine the effect of Omega-3 on endothelial function, disease activity, inflammatory markers and lipids in SLE. SLE patients (n = 85, mean age 47, 55 % Caucasian, 38 % African-American, 94 % female) were randomly assigned to 3 g of Omega-3 (Lovaza, GSK) versus placebo for 12 weeks. Endothelial function was measured at baseline and at 12 weeks using flow-mediated dilation, calculated using high-resolution B-mode ultrasound of the brachial artery diameter in response to vasoactive stimuli (hyperemia). Disease activity was measured using the physician global assessment and SELENA-SLEDAI score. Inflammatory markers (sICAM-1, sVCAM-1, IL-6) and fasting lipid profile were done at baseline and 12-week follow-up. There was no difference between the treatment groups with respect to changes in flow-mediated dilation parameters or disease activity. An average increase in LDL cholesterol of 3.11 mg/dL (±21.99) was found with Omega-3 versus a decrease of 1.87 mg/dL (±18.29) with placebo (p = 0.0266). In this trial, Omega-3 did not improve endothelial function, disease activity, nor reduce inflammatory markers in SLE. Longer trials might be required if there are delayed clinical effects. There was evidence that Omega-3 may increase LDL cholesterol, but not the LDL/HDL ratio.
PMCID: PMC3805738  PMID: 23817872
Omega-3; LDL cholesterol; Flow-mediated dilation; Systemic lupus erythematosus
8.  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
11.  Predictors of self-reported health-related quality of life in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2013;52(9):1651-1657.
Objective. The Medical Outcomes Short Form-36 Survey (SF-36) has been widely used as a measure of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in different populations. SLE patients have consistently reported lower scores compared with the general population. The objective of our study was to identify predictors of HRQOL using SF-36 among patients with SLE enrolled in a 2-year randomized controlled trial (RCT).
Methods. We analysed 200 SLE patients enrolled in the Lupus Atherosclerosis Prevention Study (LAPS), an RCT of atorvastatin vs placebo, who completed SF-36 at qualifying, 12- and 24-month (final) visits.
Results. At baseline, mean SF-36 domain scores were lower than those of age- and gender-matched population norms. There was no statistical difference reported between Physical Component Summary (PCS), Mental Component Summary and eight domain scores in the atorvastatin vs placebo group at 2 years. In multiple regression analyses, African American patients reported significantly lower scores in Physical Functioning compared with Caucasians. The presence of FM was significantly associated with lower scores in physical functioning, role physical, bodily pain, general health, vitality, social functioning and lower overall mean PCS scores. The Physician’s Global Assessment of disease activity was associated with multiple SF-36 domains in univariate analysis.
Conclusion. This longitudinal study confirmed lower scores reported across all SF-36 domains. No one explanatory variable was independently associated with all domain scores. FM was independently associated with poorer HRQOL in most domains, underscoring the need for effective treatments for FM in SLE.
PMCID: PMC3741477  PMID: 23681396
SLE; SF-36; HRQOL; fibromyalgia; statins; disease activity; PCS; MCS; disease activity indices; spydergram
12.  Vitamin D in SLE: Modest Association with Disease Activity and Urine Protein/Creatinine Ratio 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(7):1865-1871.
We investigated whether an increase in vitamin D levels in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus was associated with improvement in disease activity.
1006 SLE patients were followed over 128 weeks. SLE patients with low levels of 25-hydroxy Vitamin D (<40 ng/mL) were supplemented with 50,000 units Vitamin D2 weekly, with Ca/D3 200 units twice daily. Longitudinal regression models were used to estimate the association between levels of vitamin D and various measures of disease activity.
The SLE patients were 91% female, mean age 49.6, 54% Caucasian, 37% African-American and 8% other ethnicity. For those with low 25-hydroxy Vitamin D (<40 ng/mL), a 20 unit increase in 25-hydroxy Vitamin D was associated with a decrease in mean SELENA-SLEDAI by 0.22 (CI: −0.41, −0.02) (p= 0.032). This corresponded with a 21% decrease in the odds of having a SELENA-SLEDAI higher than 4 (CI: 1%, 37%). Mean urine protein-to-creatinine ratio decreased 2% (CI: −0.03, −0.01) (p=0.009), corresponding to a 15% decrease in the odds of having a ratio of 0.5 or greater (CI: 2%, 27%).
We found that a 20 ng/mL increase in vitamin D was associated with a 21% decrease in the odds of having a high activity score and a 15% decrease in the odds of having clinically important proteinuria. Though these associations were statistically significant, the clinical importance is relatively modest. There was no evidence of additional benefit beyond a level of 40 ng/mL.
PMCID: PMC3701725  PMID: 23553077
Vitamin D; Disease activity; Proteinuria; Systemic lupus Erythematosus
13.  Clinical, laboratory and health-related quality of life correlates of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Responder Index response: a post hoc analysis of the phase 3 belimumab trials 
Lupus Science & Medicine  2014;1(1):e000031.
Correlates of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) Responder Index (SRI) response with clinical trial end points were examined using pooled data from the Study of Belimumab in Subjects with SLE (BLISS) trials (N=1684).
Changes in clinical, laboratory and health-related quality of life measures from baseline at 52 weeks were compared between SRI responders (n=761) and non-responders (n=923).
More SRI responders than non-responders had ≥4-point (100% vs 3.8%) and ≥7-point (40.3% vs 1.3%) Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index reductions, no new British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) A and ≤1 new B scores (91.9% vs 35.9%), and a 25% reduction in corticosteroid dose decrease of 25% from >7.5 mg/d to ≤7.5 mg/d (25.5% vs 13.9%), and fewer had a corticosteroid increase from ≤7.5 mg/d to >7.5 mg/d (4.1% vs 21.3%; all p<0.001). More responders than non-responders had improved organ domains: Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment-Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (mean 1.45 vs 0.40), BILAG (2.00 vs 0.39), and greater improvement in Physician's Global Assessment (all p<0.001). Risks for developing any SLE flare or severe flare were reduced in responders by 42% and 87%, respectively (p<0.001). Responders reported greater improvements in Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form version 2 Physical and Mental Components and all domain scores, and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue score compared with non-responders (all p<0.001).
Overall, SRI response in patients with active, autoantibody-positive SLE was associated with improvements in clinical, laboratory and patient-reported outcome measures, indicating that SRI response was associated with a global benefit.
Trial registration number
NCT00424476; NCT00410384.
PMCID: PMC4225741  PMID: 25396065
Belimumab; Bilag; Facit-Fatigue; Health-Related Quality of Life; PGA
14.  Allelic Dependent Expression of an Activating Fc receptor on B cells Enhances Humoral Immune Responses 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(216):216ra175.
B cells are pivotal regulators of acquired immune responses and recent work in both experimental murine models and humans has demonstrated that subtle changes in the regulation of B cell function can significantly alter immunological responses. The balance of negative and positive signals in maintaining an appropriate B cell activation threshold is critical in B lymphocyte immune tolerance and autoreactivity. FcγRIIb (CD32B), the only recognized Fcγ receptor on B cells, provides IgG-mediated negative modulation through a tyrosine-based inhibition motif which down-regulates B cell receptor initiated signaling. These properties make FcγRIIb a promising target for antibody-based therapy. Here we report the discovery of allele-dependent expression of the activating FcγRIIc on B cells. Identical to FcγRIIb in the extracellular domain, FcγRIIc has a tyrosine-based activation motif in its cytoplasmic domain. In both human B cells and in B cells from mice transgenic for human FcγRIIc, FcγRIIc expression counterbalances the negative feedback of FcγRIIb and enhances humoral responses to immunization in mice and to BioThrax® vaccination in a human Anthrax vaccine trial. Moreover, the FCGR2C-ORF allele is associated with the risk of development of autoimmunity in humans. FcγRIIc expression on B cells challenges the prevailing paradigm of uni-directional negative feedback by IgG immune complexes via the inhibitory FcγRIIb, is a previously unrecognized determinant in human antibody/autoantibody responses, and opens the opportunity for more precise personalized use of B cell targeted antibody-based therapy.
PMCID: PMC3982386  PMID: 24353158
15.  Managing lupus patients during pregnancy 
Best practice & research. Clinical rheumatology  2013;27(3):10.1016/j.berh.2013.07.005.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease, primarily affecting young females. Pregnancy in a woman with SLE remains a high risk situation with higher maternal and fetal mortality and morbidity. Although live births are achieved in majority of the pregnancies, active disease and major organ involvement can negatively affect the outcomes. Higher risk of fetal loss, pre-term birth, intra-uterine growth restriction and neonatal lupus syndromes are major fetal issues. Mothers are faced with disease flares, pre-eclampsia and other complications. Disease flares during SLE pregnancy pose the unique issue of recognition and differentiation between physiologic changes and disease state. Similarly pre-eclampsia and lupus nephritis may lead to diagnostic confusion. Treatment choices during pregnancy are limited to a few safe drugs, further restricting the options. Refractory pregnancy loss associated with anti-phospholipid antibodies and complete heart block associated with anti-Ro antibodies remain unresolved issues. A multidisciplinary approach, with close monitoring, is essential for optimal outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3834352  PMID: 24238698
Systemic lupus erythematosus; anti-phospholipid antibodies; pregnancy; fetal loss; pre-eclampsia; neonatal lupus syndromes
16.  The SLE Transcriptome Exhibits Evidence of Chronic Endotoxin Exposure and Has Widespread Dysregulation of Non-Coding and Coding RNAs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e93846.
Gene expression studies of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have demonstrated a type I interferon signature and increased expression of inflammatory cytokine genes. Studies of patients with Aicardi Goutières syndrome, commonly cited as a single gene model for SLE, have suggested that accumulation of non-coding RNAs may drive some of the pathologic gene expression, however, no RNA sequencing studies of SLE patients have been performed. This study was designed to define altered expression of coding and non-coding RNAs and to detect globally altered RNA processing in SLE.
Purified monocytes from eight healthy age/gender matched controls and nine SLE patients (with low-moderate disease activity and lack of biologic drug use or immune suppressive treatment) were studied using RNA-seq. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to validate findings. Serum levels of endotoxin were measured by ELISA.
We found that SLE patients had diminished expression of most endogenous retroviruses and small nucleolar RNAs, but exhibited increased expression of pri-miRNAs. Splicing patterns and polyadenylation were significantly altered. In addition, SLE monocytes expressed novel transcripts, an effect that was replicated by LPS treatment of control monocytes. We further identified increased circulating endotoxin in SLE patients.
Monocytes from SLE patients exhibit globally dysregulated gene expression. The transcriptome is not simply altered by the transcriptional activation of a set of genes, but is qualitatively different in SLE. The identification of novel loci, inducible by LPS, suggests that chronic microbial translocation could contribute to the immunologic dysregulation in SLE, a new potential disease mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4010412  PMID: 24796678
17.  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
18.  End-Stage Renal Disease in African Americans With Lupus Nephritis Is Associated With APOL1 
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a severe manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that exhibits familial aggregation and may progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). LN is more prevalent among African Americans than among European Americans. This study was undertaken to investigate the hypothesis that the apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) nephropathy risk alleles G1/G2, common in African Americans and rare in European Americans, contribute to the ethnic disparity in risk.
APOL1 G1 and G2 nephropathy alleles were genotyped in 855 African American SLE patients with LN-ESRD (cases) and 534 African American SLE patients without nephropathy (controls) and tested for association under a recessive genetic model, by logistic regression.
Ninety percent of the SLE patients were female. The mean ± SD age at SLE diagnosis was significantly lower in LN-ESRD cases than in SLE non-nephropathy controls (27.3 ± 10.9 years versus 39.5 ± 12.2 years). The mean ± SD time from SLE diagnosis to development of LN-ESRD in cases was 7.3 ± 7.2 years. The G1/G2 risk alleles were strongly associated with SLE-ESRD, with 25% of cases and 12% of controls having 2 nephropathy alleles (odds ratio [OR] 2.57, recessive model P = 1.49 × 10−9), and after adjustment for age, sex, and ancestry admixture (OR 2.72, P = 6.23 × 10−6). The age-, sex-, and admixture-adjusted population attributable risk for ESRD among patients with G1/G2 polymorphisms was 0.26, compared to 0.003 among European American patients. The mean time from SLE diagnosis to ESRD development was ~2 years earlier among individuals with APOL1 risk genotypes (P = 0.01).
APOL1 G1/G2 alleles strongly impact the risk of LN-ESRD in African Americans, as well as the time to progression to ESRD. The high frequency of these alleles in African Americans with near absence in European Americans explains an important proportion of the increased risk of LN-ESRD in African Americans.
PMCID: PMC4002759  PMID: 24504811
19.  European Population Substructure Correlates with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Endophenotypes in North Americans of European Descent 
Genes and immunity  2009;11(6):515-521.
Previous work has demonstrated that northern and southern European ancestries are associated with specific systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) manifestations. Here, 1855 SLE cases of European descent were genotyped for 4965 single nucleotide polymorphisms and principal components analysis of genotype information was used to define population substructure. The first principal component (PC1) distinguished northern from southern European ancestry, PC2 differentiated eastern from western European ancestry, and PC3 delineated Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. Compared to northern European ancestry, southern European ancestry was associated with autoantibody production (OR=1.40, 95% CI 1.07-1.83) and renal involvement (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.06-1.87), and was protective for discoid rash (OR=0.51, 95% CI 0.32-0.82) and photosensitivity (OR=0.74, 95% CI 0.56-0.97). Both serositis (OR=1.46, 95% CI 1.12-1.89) and autoantibody production (OR=1.38, 95% CI 1.06-1.80) were associated with Western compared to Eastern European ancestry. Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry was protective against neurologic manifestations of SLE (OR=0.62, 95% CI 0.40-0.94). Homogeneous clusters of cases defined by multiple PCs demonstrated stronger phenotypic associations. Genetic ancestry may contribute to the development of SLE endophenotypes and should be accounted for in genetic studies of disease characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3951966  PMID: 19847193
Systemic lupus erythematosus; epidemiology; population substructure; genetics
20.  Multiple polymorphisms in the TNFAIP3 region are independently associated with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Nature genetics  2008;40(9):1062-1064.
The TNFAIP3 (tumor necrosis factor alpha–induced protein 3) gene encodes a ubiquitin editing enzyme, A20, that restricts NF-κB–dependent signaling and prevents inflammation. We show that three independent SNPs in the TNFAIP3 region (rs13192841, rs2230926 and rs6922466) are associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) among individuals of European ancestry. These findings provide critical links between A20 and the etiology of SLE.
PMCID: PMC3897246  PMID: 19165919
21.  SNPs in VKORC1 are Risk Factors for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Asians 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(1):211-215.
The increased risk of thrombosis in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may be partially explained by interrelated genetic pathways for thrombosis and SLE. In a case-control analysis, we investigated whether 33 established and novel single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in 20 genes involved in hemostasis pathways that have been associated with deep venous thrombosis in the general population were risk factors for SLE development among Asians.
Patients in the discovery cohort were enrolled in one of two North American SLE cohorts. Patients in the replication cohort were enrolled in one of four Asian or two North American cohorts. SLE cases met American College of Rheumatology classification criteria. We first genotyped 263 Asian SLE and 357 healthy Asian control individuals for 33 SNPs using Luminex multiplex technology in the discovery phase, and then used Taqman and Immunochip assays to examine 5 SNPs in up to an additional 1496 cases and 993 controls in the Replication phase. SLE patients were compared to healthy controls for association with minor alleles in allelic models. Principal components analysis was used to control for intra-Asian ancestry in an analysis of the replication cohort.
Two genetic variants in the gene VKORC1, rs9934438 and rs9923231, were highly significant in both the discovery and replication cohorts: OR(disc) = 2.45 (p=2×10−9), OR(rep) = 1.53 (p=5×10−6) and OR(disc) = 2.40 (p=6×10−9), OR(rep) = 1.53 (p=5×10−6), respectively. These associations were significant in the replication cohort after adjustment for intra-Asian ancestry: rs9934438 OR(adj) = 1.34 (p=0.0029) and rs9923231 OR(adj) = 1.34 (p=0.0032).
Genetic variants in VKORC1, involved in vitamin K reduction and associated with DVT, are associated with SLE development in Asians. These results suggest intersecting genetic pathways for the development of SLE and thrombosis.
PMCID: PMC3670944  PMID: 23124848
systemic lupus erythematosus; single nucleotide polymorphisms; genetic risk factors
22.  European Genetic Ancestry is Associated with a Decreased Risk of Lupus Nephritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(10):10.1002/art.34567.
African Americans, East Asians, and Hispanics with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are more likely to develop renal disease than SLE patients of European descent. We investigated whether European genetic ancestry protects against the development of lupus nephritis and explored genetic and socioeconomic factors that might explain this effect.
This was a cross-sectional study of 1906 adults with SLE. Participants were genotyped for 126 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) informative for ancestry. A subset of participants was also genotyped for 80 SNPs in 14 candidate genes for renal disease in SLE. We used logistic regression to test the association between European ancestry and renal disease. Analyses adjusted for continental ancestries, socioeconomic status, and candidate genes.
Participants (n=1906) had on average 62.4% European, 15.8% African, 11.5% East Asian, 6.5% Amerindian, and 3.8% South Asian ancestry. Among participants, 34% (n=656) had renal disease. A 10% increase in European ancestry was associated with a 15% reduction in the odds of having renal disease after adjustment for disease duration and sex (OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.82-0.87, p=1.9 × 10−30). Adjusting for other genetic ancestries, measures of socioeconomic status, or SNPs in genes most associated with renal disease (IRF5 (rs4728142), BLK (rs2736340), STAT4 (rs3024912), ITGAM (rs9937837) and HLA-DRB1*0301 and DRB1*1501, p<0.05) did not substantively alter this relationship.
European ancestry is protective against the development of renal disease in SLE, an effect independent of other genetic ancestries, common risk alleles, and socioeconomic status.
PMCID: PMC3865923  PMID: 23023776
23.  Predictors of Organ Damage in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: the Hopkins’ Lupus Cohort 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(12):4021-4028.
The SLICC/ACR Damage Index (SDI) is the accepted measure of permanent organ damage in SLE. We analyzed data from a large SLE cohort to identify variables associated with rates of damage accrual as measured by the SDI.
2054 SLE patients (92% female, 56% Caucasian, 37% African-American, mean age at diagnosis 33 years) were included. The SDI was calculated retrospectively at the time of cohort entry, and prospectively during follow-up. The relationships between time-invariant patient characteristics and rates of damage accrual were assessed based on the damage score at last available follow-up. The relationships between time-varying patient characteristics and damage accrual were assessed based on the timing of damage accrual during cohort participation..
Overall, the SDI increased at a rate of 0.13 per year. Higher rates of damage were observed for those who were older, male, African American, low income, low education, hypertensive, had lupus anticoagulant, or who had proteinuria. During follow-up, the risk of damage was higher for those who were older with more disease activity, low complement, anti-dsDNA, satisfied more ACR-11 criteria, and using corticosteroids. Lower risk was observed among those using hydroxychloroquine. After adjustment for other variables, age, hypertension, and use of corticosteroids emerged as the most important predictors of damage accrual.
Rates of damage vary in demographic subgroups, but much variation appears to be explained by hypertension and corticosteroid use. These data clearly point to the need for tight control of disease activity without reliance on corticosteroids.
PMCID: PMC3510359  PMID: 22932985
SLICC/ACR Damage index (SDI); SLE
24.  Epratuzumab for patients with moderate to severe flaring SLE: health-related quality of life outcomes and corticosteroid use in the randomized controlled ALLEVIATE trials and extension study SL0006 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2013;53(3):502-511.
Objective. To evaluate health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and corticosteroid use in patients with moderate to severely active SLE enrolled in two international, multicentre, randomized controlled trials of epratuzumab (ALLEVIATE-1 and -2) and a long-term extension study (SL0006).
Methods. Ninety ALLEVIATE patients (43% BILAG A, mean BILAG score 13.2) were randomized to receive 360 mg/m2 (n = 42) or 720 mg/m2 (n = 11) epratuzumab or placebo (n = 37), plus standard of care, in 12-week cycles. Corticosteroid use, patient and physician global assessments of disease activity (PtGA and PGA) and 36-item Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form (SF-36) results were recorded at baseline and every 4 weeks. Both trials were prematurely discontinued due to a drug supply interruption; patients followed for ≥6 months were analysed. Twenty-nine patients continued in SL0006, with interim analysis at a median exposure of 120 (range 13–184) weeks.
Results. At week 12, proportions of patients with a PGA ≥20% above baseline or with a PtGA improvement greater than or equal to the minimum clinically important difference were higher in the epratuzumab arms than the placebo arm. PGA and PtGA improvements were sustained but did not reach statistical significance. At week 24, mean cumulative corticosteroid doses with epratuzumab 360 and 720 mg/m2 were 1051 and 1973 mg less than placebo (P = 0.034 and 0.081, respectively). At week 48, SF-36 scores approached or exceeded US age- and gender-matched norms in five domains with the 360 mg/m2 treatment. Improvements were maintained in SL0006 over ∼2 years.
Conclusion. Epratuzumab treatment produced clinically meaningful and sustained improvements in PGA, PtGA and HRQOL and reductions in corticosteroid doses.
PMCID: PMC3930886  PMID: 24273022
epratuzumab; CD22; ALLEVIATE; lupus; SLE; HRQOL; SF-36; corticosteroids; clinical trial; monoclonal antibody
25.  Two Independent Functional Risk Haplotypes in TNIP1 are Associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3695-3705.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production and altered type I interferon expression. Genetic surveys and genome-wide association studies have identified more than 30 SLE susceptibility genes. One of these genes, TNIP1, encodes the ABIN1 protein. ABIN1 functions in the immune system by restricting the NF-κB signaling. In order to better understand the genetic factors that influence association with SLE in genes that regulate the NF-κB pathway, we analyzed a dense set of genetic markers spanning TNIP1 and TAX1BP1, as well as the TNIP1 homolog, TNIP2, in case-control sets of diverse ethnic origins.
We fine-mapped TNIP1, TNIP2, and TAX1BP1 in a total of 8372 SLE cases and 7492 healthy controls from European-ancestry, African-American, Hispanic, East Asian, and African-American Gullah populations. Levels of TNIP1 mRNA and ABIN1 protein were analyzed using quantitative RT-PCR and Western blotting, respectively, in EBV-transformed human B cell lines.
We found significant associations between genetic variants within TNIP1 and SLE but not in TNIP2 or TAX1BP1. After resequencing and imputation, we identified two independent risk haplotypes within TNIP1 in individuals of European-ancestry that were also present in African-American and Hispanic populations. These risk haplotypes produced lower levels of TNIP1 mRNA and ABIN1 protein suggesting they harbor hypomorphic functional variants that influence susceptibility to SLE by restricting ABIN1 expression.
Our results confirmed the association signals between SLE and TNIP1 variants in multiple populations and provide new insight into the mechanism by which TNIP1 variants may contribute to SLE pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3485412  PMID: 22833143

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