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1.  The metastasis promoting protein S100A4 levels associate with disease activity rather than cancer development in patients with idiopathic inflammatory myopathies 
Introduction
The aim was to evaluate S100A4 protein as a biomarker of disease activity and potential cancer development in patients with myositis.
Methods
Serum levels of S100A4 were determined in 43 dermatomyositis (DM), 39 polymyositis (PM) and 22 cancer associated myositis (CAM) patients as well as in 77 healthy controls. The associations between S100A4 levels, inflammation, disease activity, muscle strength and cancer development were evaluated.
Results
All myositis patients had significantly higher serum levels of S100A4 protein compared to healthy controls (median (IQR): 31.5 (17.4 to 59.5) versus 23.8 (14.5 to 33.7) ng/ml, P <0.05). In patients with PM, serum levels of S100A4 protein were significantly higher than in healthy controls (41.6 (24.2 to 123.1) versus 23.8 (14.5 to 33.7) ng/ml; P <0.001) as well as in patients with DM (26.7 (11.3 to 47.5) ng/ml; P <0.05). The levels of S100A4 were comparable between myositis with and without cancer. In all myositis patients, serum S100A4 levels correlated with MYOsitis disease ACTivity assessment (MYOACT) score (r = 0.34; P = 0.001), constitutional (r = 0.30; P = 0.003), pulmonary (r = 0.43; P = 0.0001) and extramuscular disease activity (r = 0.36; P = 0.0001), as well as with creatine phosphokinase (r = 0.27; P = 0.015) and lactate dehydrogenase (r = 0.37; P = 0.002) or c-reactive protein (CRP) levels (r = 0.24; P = 0.038). Multiple regression analysis showed significant association between S100A4 serum levels and extramuscular disease activity (β = 0.552; P = 0.002) in PM patients and with MYOACT (β = 0.557; P = 0.003) and CRP levels (β = 0.391; P = 0.029) in DM patients.
Conclusions
Circulating levels of S100A4 are elevated in patients with myositis and associate with several disease activity parameters, particularly with extramuscular components. No relation between S100A4 levels and presence of cancer associated myositis was found.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0468-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0468-2
PMCID: PMC4241220  PMID: 25359220
2.  Decreased Circulating Visfatin Is Associated with Improved Disease Activity in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis: Data from the PERAC Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103495.
Objective
To evaluate circulating visfatin and its relationship with disease activity and serum lipids in patients with early, treatment-naïve rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
Serum visfatin was measured in 40 patients with early RA before and after three months of treatment and in 30 age- and sex-matched healthy individuals. Disease activity was assessed using the Disease Activity Score for 28 joints (DAS28) at baseline and at three and 12 months. Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed to evaluate whether improved disease activity is related to serum visfatin or a change in visfatin level.
Results
Serum visfatin was significantly elevated in early RA patients compared to healthy controls (1.92±1.17 vs. 1.36±0.93 ng/ml; p = 0.034) and significantly decreased after three months of treatment (to 0.99±0.67 ng/ml; p<0.001). Circulating visfatin and a change in visfatin level correlated with disease activity and improved disease activity over time, respectively. A decrease in visfatin after three months predicted a DAS28 improvement after 12 months. In addition, decreased serum visfatin was not associated with an improved atherogenic index but was associated with an increase in total cholesterol level.
Conclusion
A short-term decrease in circulating visfatin may represent an independent predictor of long-term disease activity improvement in patients with early RA.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103495
PMCID: PMC4113419  PMID: 25068448
3.  Laboratory biomarkers or imaging in the diagnostics of rheumatoid arthritis? 
BMC Medicine  2014;12:49.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common autoimmune disease in which a heterogeneous course and different pathogenic mechanisms are implicated in chronic inflammation and joint destruction. Despite the diagnostic contribution of anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPAs) and rheumatoid factors, about one-third of RA patients remain seronegative. ACPAs belong to a heterogeneous family of autoantibodies targeting citrullinated proteins, including myelin-basic protein, several histone proteins, filaggrin and fibrin, fibrinogen or vimentin. In addition to ACPAs, antibodies directed against other post-translationally modified-carbamylated proteins (anti-CarP) were detected in up to 30% of ACPA-negative patients. Using phage display technology, further autoantibodies were recently discovered as candidate biomarkers for seronegative RA patients. Furthermore, in clinical practice, ultrasound may reveal subclinical synovitis and radiographically undetected bone erosions. To improve diagnostic certainty in undifferentiated arthritis and seronegative patients, ultrasound imaging and several new biomarkers may help to identify at risk patients and those with early disease. In this commentary we summarize recent advances in joint ultrasound and future potential of serological biomarkers to improve diagnosis of RA.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-49
PMCID: PMC3984686  PMID: 24642071
Rheumatoid arthritis; Autoimmunity; Disease activity; Laboratory biomarkers; Ultrasound imaging
4.  Resistin in idiopathic inflammatory myopathies 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R111.
Introduction
The purpose of this study was to evaluate and compare the serum levels and local expression of resistin in patients with idiopathic inflammatory myopathies to controls, and to determine the relationship between resistin levels, inflammation and disease activity.
Methods
Serum resistin levels were determined in 42 patients with inflammatory myopathies and 27 healthy controls. The association among resistin levels, inflammation, global disease activity and muscle strength was examined. The expression of resistin in muscle tissues from patients with inflammatory myopathies and healthy controls was evaluated. Gene expression and protein release from resistin-stimulated muscle and mononuclear cells were assessed.
Results
In patients with inflammatory myopathies, the serum levels of resistin were significantly higher than those observed in controls (8.53 ± 6.84 vs. 4.54 ± 1.08 ng/ml, P < 0.0001) and correlated with C-reactive protein (CRP) levels (r = 0.328, P = 0.044) and myositis disease activity assessment visual analogue scales (MYOACT) (r = 0.382, P = 0.026). Stronger association was observed between the levels of serum resistin and CRP levels (r = 0.717, P = 0.037) as well as MYOACT (r = 0.798, P = 0.007), and there was a trend towards correlation between serum resistin and myoglobin levels (r = 0.650, P = 0.067) in anti-Jo-1 positive patients. Furthermore, in patients with dermatomyositis, serum resistin levels significantly correlated with MYOACT (r = 0.667, P = 0.001), creatine kinase (r = 0.739, P = 0.001) and myoglobin levels (r = 0.791, P = 0.0003) and showed a trend towards correlation with CRP levels (r = 0.447, P = 0.067). Resistin expression in muscle tissue was significantly higher in patients with inflammatory myopathies compared to controls, and resistin induced the expression of interleukins (IL)-1β and IL-6 and monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1 in mononuclear cells but not in myocytes.
Conclusions
The results of this study indicate that higher levels of serum resistin are associated with inflammation, higher global disease activity index and muscle injury in patients with myositis-specific anti-Jo-1 antibody and patients with dermatomyositis. Furthermore, up-regulation of resistin in muscle tissue and resistin-induced synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines in mononuclear cells suggest a potential role for resistin in the pathogenesis of inflammatory myopathies.
doi:10.1186/ar3836
PMCID: PMC3446487  PMID: 22577940
5.  Pentosidine, an Advanced Glycation End-Product, May Reflect Clinical and Morphological Features of Hand Osteoarthritis 
The study investigates pentosidine levels, an advanced glycation end-product, in patients with erosive and non-erosive hand osteoarthritis (HOA) and determine its potential association with clinical findings and imaging-defined joint damage.
Pentosidine was measured by HPLC in serum and urine of 53 females with HOA (31 erosive and 22 non-erosive HOA) and normalised to the total serum protein or urinary creatinine, respectively. Pain, joint stiffness and disability were assessed by the Australian/Canadian OA hand index (AUSCAN). The hand radiographs scored according to the Kallman grading scale were assessed to determine a baseline value and reassessed after two years.
The levels of urine pentosidine, but not of serum pentosidine, were higher in patients with erosive HOA than in non-erosive HOA (p=0.039). Urinary pentosidine correlated with CRP (r=0.302, p=0.031), ESR (r=0.288, p=0.041) and AUSCAN (r=0.408, p=0.003). Serum pentosidine, but not in urine, significantly correlated with the Kallman radiographic score in erosive HOA at the baseline (r=0.409, p=0.022) and after 2 years (r=0.385, p=0.032). However, when corrected for age and disease duration, only correlation between urine pentosidine and AUSCAN remained significant (r=0.397, p=0.004).
Our data suggest that serum and urine pentosidine levels may relate to the distinctive clinical and morphological features of HOA.
doi:10.2174/1874312901206010064
PMCID: PMC3377906  PMID: 22715350
Hand osteoarthritis (HOA); pentosidine; erosive disease; biomarker; radiographs.
6.  Decreases in serum levels of S100A8/9 (calprotectin) correlate with improvements in total swollen joint count in patients with recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(4):R122.
Introduction
The aim of this study was to examine the serum levels of S100 proteins and to evaluate their role in patients with recent-onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
Serum levels of S100A8/9 and S100A12 were analysed in 43 patients with recent-onset RA, both before and three months after the initiation of conventional treatment, as well as in 32 healthy individuals. Disease activity was assessed based on serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), the Disease Activity Score for 28 joints (DAS28) and the total number of swollen joints count for 66 joints (SJC).
Results
The levels of serum S100A8/9 and S100A12 were significantly higher in patients with recent-onset RA compared to the levels in healthy individuals (P < 0.0001) and normalised after three months of treatment. Using age- and sex-adjusted analysis, S100A8/9 levels were correlated with CRP (r = 0.439, P < 0.01), DAS28 (r = 0.501, P = 0.002) and SJC (r = 0.443, P = 0.007), while S100A12 was less significantly correlated with these parameters. Higher levels of S100A8/9 at baseline predicted improvement in the levels of CRP and SJC over time. Moreover, decreases in serum S100A8/9 were associated with decreased serum levels of CRP (r = 0.459, P = 0.005) and improvements in SJC (r = 0.459, P = 0.005). In multiple linear regression analyses, decreases in S100A8/9 but not CRP were significant predictors for improvements in SJC (P = 0.001).
Conclusions
This study is the first to show normalisation of elevated S100 proteins in patients with recent-onset RA after the initiation of conventional treatment. Therefore, S100A8/9 might potentially be a predictive marker for improvement in the total number of swollen joints in patients in the early phase of RA.
doi:10.1186/ar3426
PMCID: PMC3239361  PMID: 21791097
rheumatoid arthritis; S100 proteins; disease activity; relapse
7.  Association of circulating miR-223 and miR-16 with disease activity in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(10):1898-1904.
Background
Identification of parameters for early diagnosis and treatment response would be beneficial for patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (ERA) to prevent ongoing joint damage. miRNAs have features of potential biomarkers, and an altered expression of miRNAs was shown in established rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Objective
To analyse RA associated miRNAs in the sera of patients with ERA to find markers of early disease, clinical activity or predictors of disease outcome.
Methods
Total RNA was isolated from whole sera in ERA patients (prior to and after 3 and 12 months of therapy with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs), in patients with established RA and in healthy controls (HC) using phenol–chloroform extraction. Expression of miR-146a, miR-155, miR-223, miR-16, miR-203, miR-132 and miR-124a was analysed by TaqMan Real Time PCR.
Results
From all analysed miRNAs, levels of miR-146a, miR-155 and miR-16 were decreased in the sera of ERA patients in comparison with established RA. A change in circulating miR-16 in the first 3 months of therapy was associated with a decrease in DAS28 in long term follow-up in ERA (p=0.002). Levels of circulating miR-223 in treatment naïve ERA correlated with C reactive protein (p=0.008), DAS28 (p=0.031) and change in DAS28 after 3 months (p=0.003) and 12 months (p=0.011) of follow-up. However, neither miR-16 nor miR-223 could distinguish ERA from HC.
Conclusions
Differential expression of circulating miR-146a, miR-155 and miR-16 in the sera of ERA patients may characterise an early stage of the disease. We suggest miR-223 as a marker of disease activity and miR-16 and miR-223 as possible predictors for disease outcome in ERA.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202815
PMCID: PMC4173742  PMID: 23897768
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DAS28; Early Rheumatoid Arthritis

Results 1-7 (7)