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1.  Expression and function of visfatin (Nampt), an adipokine-enzyme involved in inflammatory pathways of osteoarthritis 
Visfatin is an adipokine that may be involved in intertissular joint communication in osteoarthritis (OA). With a homodimeric conformation, it exerts nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (Nampt) enzymatic activity, essential for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide biosynthesis. We examined the tissular origin and conformation of visfatin/Nampt in human OA joints and investigated the role of visfatin/Nampt in chondrocytes and osteoblasts by studying Nampt enzymatic activity.
Synovium, cartilage and subchondral bone from human OA joints were used for protein extraction or incubated for 24 hours in serum-free media (conditioned media), and synovial fluid was obtained from OA patients. Visfatin/Nampt expression in tissular extracts and conditioned media was evaluated by western blot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), respectively. Nampt activity was assessed in OA synovium by colorimetric assay. Primary cultures of murine chondrocytes and osteoblasts were stimulated with visfatin/Nampt and pretreated or not with APO866, a pharmacologic inhibitor of Nampt activity. The effect on cytokines, chemokines, growth factors and hypertrophic markers expression was examined by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and/or ELISA.
In tissular explants, conditioned media and synovial fluid, visfatin/Nampt was found as a homodimer, corresponding to the enzymatically active conformation. All human OA joint tissues released visfatin/Nampt (synovium: 628 ± 106 ng/g tissue; subchondral bone: 195 ± 26 ng/g tissue; cartilage: 152 ± 46 ng/g tissue), with significantly higher level for synovium (P <0.0005). Nampt activity was identified ex vivo in synovium. In vitro, visfatin/Nampt significantly induced the expression of interleukin 6, keratinocyte chemoattractant and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 in chondrocytes and osteoblasts. APO866 decreased the mRNA and protein levels of these pro-inflammatory cytokines in the two cell types (up to 94% and 63% inhibition, respectively). Levels of growth factors (vascular endothelial growth factor, transforming growth factor β) and hypertrophic genes were unchanged with treatment.
Visfatin/Nampt is released by all human OA tissues in a dimeric enzymatically active conformation and mostly by the synovium, which displays Nampt activity. The Nampt activity of visfatin is involved in chondrocyte and osteoblast activation, so targeting this enzymatic activity to disrupt joint tissue interactions may be novel in OA therapy.
PMCID: PMC3978827  PMID: 24479481
2.  Serum level of adiponectin is a surrogate independent biomarker of radiographic disease progression in early rheumatoid arthritis: results from the ESPOIR cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(6):R210.
Adipokines such as adiponectin, leptin, and visfatin/nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) have recently emerged as pro-inflammatory mediators involved in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We aimed to determine whether serum adipokine levels independently predicted early radiographic disease progression in early RA.
In total, 791 patients were included from the prospective Etude et Suivi des POlyarthrites Indifférenciées Récentes (ESPOIR) cohort who met the American College of Rheumatology-European League Against Rheumatism criteria for RA (n = 632) or had undifferentiated arthritis (UA) (n = 159). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to assess baseline serum levels of adiponectin, leptin, and visfatin/NAMPT. In the RA group, we tested the association of serum adipokine levels and (a) baseline radiographic damage and (b) radiographic disease progression, defined as a change >0 or ≥5 in total Sharp-van der Heijde Score (∆SHS) between inclusion and 1 year (∆SHS ≥1 or rapid radiographic progression: ∆SHS ≥5), adjusting for confounders (age, sex, body-mass index, insulin resistance, C-reactive protein level, Disease Activity Score in 28 joints, Health Assessment Questionnaire score, autoantibody status, steroid use, and radiographic evidence of RA damage at inclusion).
Adiponectin level was independently associated with baseline total SHS (adjusted β = 0.12; P = 0.006). It was also associated with ∆SHS ≥1 (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.84 (1.25 to 2.72)) involving erosive as well as narrowing disease progression (aOR = 1.73 (1.17 to 2.55) and 1.93 (1.04 to 3.57), respectively). Serum adiponectin level predicted ∆SHS ≥5 (aOR = 2.0 (1.14 to 3.52)). Serum leptin level was independently associated only with ∆SHS >0 (aOR = 1.59 (1.05 to 2.42)). Conversely, serum visfatin/NAMPT level and radiographic disease progression were unrelated. Considering the receiver-operated characteristic curves, the best adiponectin cut-offs were 4.14 μg/ml for ∆SHS ≥1 and 6.04 μg/ml for ∆SHS ≥5, with a good specificity (58% and 75% for ∆SHS ≥1 and ∆SHS ≥5, respectively) and high negative predictive values (75% and 92% for ∆SHS ≥1 or ∆SHS ≥5, respectively).
Serum adiponectin level is a simple useful biomarker associated with early radiographic disease progression in early RA, independent of RA-confounding factors and metabolic status.
PMCID: PMC3978925  PMID: 24314299
3.  Is IL-6 an appropriate target to treat spondyloarthritis patients refractory to anti-TNF therapy? a multicentre retrospective observational study 
The aim of this study was to evaluate, under real-life conditions, the safety and efficacy of tocilizumab in patients having failed anti-TNFα therapy for spondyloarthritis.
French rheumatologists and internal-medicine practitioners registered on the Club Rhumatismes et Inflammations website were asked to report on patients given tocilizumab (4 or 8 mg/kg) to treat active disease meeting Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society (ASAS) criteria for axial or peripheral spondyloarthritis, after anti-TNFα treatment failure. Safety and efficacy after 3 and 6 months were assessed retrospectively using standardised questionnaires.
Data were obtained for 21 patients, 13 with axial spondyloarthritis (46% men; median age, 42 years; disease duration, 11 years; HLA-B27-positive, 92.3%) and eight with peripheral spondyloarthritis (25% men; median age, 40 years; disease duration, 10 years; HLA-B27-positive, 62.5%). No patients with axial disease had at least a 20 mm decrease in the BASDAI, nor a BASDAI50 response or major ASAS-endorsed disease activity score improvements after 3 or 6 months; an ASAS-endorsed disease activity score clinically important improvement was noted at month 3 in five of 13 patients and at month 6 in one of four patients. A good DAS28 response was achieved in four patients with peripheral disease, including one in EULAR remission at month 3. Four patients were still taking tocilizumab at month 6, including one in EULAR remission and one with a good DAS28 response. Tocilizumab was well tolerated, with no serious adverse events. Initially elevated acute-phase reactants declined during tocilizumab therapy.
In patients having failed anti-TNFα therapy, tocilizumab decreased acute-phase reactants but failed to substantially improve axial spondyloarthritis and was inconsistently effective in peripheral spondyloarthritis.
PMCID: PMC3446419  PMID: 22404969
4.  Comparison of in vitro‐specific blood tests with tuberculin skin test for diagnosis of latent tuberculosis before anti‐TNF therapy 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(12):1610-1615.
Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is detected with the tuberculin skin test (TST) before anti‐TNF therapy. We aimed to investigate in vitro blood assays with TB‐specific antigens (CFP‐10, ESAT‐6), in immune‐mediated inflammatory diseases (IMID) for LTBI screening.
Patients and methods
Sixty‐eight IMID patients with (n = 35) or without (n = 33) LTBI according to clinico‐radiographic findings or TST results (10 mm cutoff value) underwent cell proliferation assessed by thymidine incorporation and PKH‐26 dilution assays, and IFNγ‐release enzyme‐linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) assays with TB‐specific antigens.
In vitro blood assays gave higher positive results in patients with LTBI than without (p<0.05), with some variations between tests. Among the 13 patients with LTBI diagnosed independently of TST results, 5 had a negative TST (38.5%) and only 2 a negative blood assays result (15.4%). The 5 LTBI patients with negative TST results all had positive blood assays results. Ten patients without LTBI but with intermediate TST results (6–10 mm) had no different result than patients with TST result ⩽5 mm (p>0.3) and lower results than those with LTBI (p<0.05) on CFP‐10+ESAT‐6 ELISPOT and CFP‐10 proliferation assays.
Anti‐TB blood assays are beneficial for LTBI diagnosis in IMID. Compared with TST, they show a better sensitivity, as seen by positive results in 5 patients with certain LTBI and negative TST, and better specificity, as seen by negative results in most patients with intermediate TST as the only criteria of LTBI. In the absence of clinico‐radiographic findings for LTBI, blood assays could replace TST for antibiotherapy decision before anti‐TNF.
PMCID: PMC2095326  PMID: 17456528
5.  Decreased B cell activating factor receptor expression on peripheral lymphocytes associated with increased disease activity in primary Sjögren's syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(6):790-797.
To analyse B cell activating factor (BAFF) receptor (BAFF‐R) expression on peripheral lymphocytes from patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Patients and methods
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 20 patients with pSS, 19 patients with SLE and 15 controls were examined by flow cytometry to investigate BAFF‐R mean fluorescence intensity (MFI) on lymphocytes. BAFF‐R mRNA level from isolated blood B cells of nine patients with pSS and eight controls was assessed by real‐time quantitative reverse transcription‐PCR. BAFF serum level was determined by ELISA.
In all subjects, BAFF‐R was expressed on all naïve CD27− and memory CD27+ B‐cells and was present on <0.5% of T cells. The expression of BAFF‐R on B cells was significantly decreased in patients with pSS as compared with controls (MFI = 7.8 vs 10.6, p = 0.001), and was intermediate in patients with SLE (MFI = 9.5). Serum BAFF level was inversely correlated with BAFF‐R MFI (p = 0.007), but not because of competition between endogenous BAFF (at observed concentrations in patients) and the monoclonal antibody (11C1) detecting BAFF‐R. BAFF‐R mRNA levels did not differ between patients with pSS and controls (p = 0.48). BAFF‐R MFI decreased after overnight culture with recombinant human BAFF (from 32.5 to 25.4, p = 0.03). Contrary to the serum BAFF level, BAFF‐R expression was correlated with extraglandular involvement in pSS and SLE Disease Activity Index.
BAFF‐R expression is reduced on peripheral B cells of patients with pSS and SLE. This down‐regulation occurs through a post‐transcriptional mechanism and could be the consequence of chronic increase in BAFF. BAFF‐R levels on B cells could be a novel activity biomarker in autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC1954659  PMID: 17185325
6.  Increase of B cell‐activating factor of the TNF family (BAFF) after rituximab treatment: insights into a new regulating system of BAFF production 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(5):700-703.
The cytokine B cell‐activating factor of the TNF family (BAFF) is involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases.
To access changes in serum protein and mRNA levels of BAFF after rituximab treatment.
Serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated from five patients (two with lupus, two with Sjögren's syndrome, one with rheumatoid arthritis) before and 12 weeks (range 7–17) after a first course of rituximab infusion. Monocytes and B cells were selected from healthy controls and cocultured for 72 h. BAFF protein and mRNA levels were assessed by ELISA and real‐time PCR, respectively.
After rituximab treatment, median serum BAFF protein level and BAFF to actin mRNA ratio in PBMCs significantly increased. In monocytes cocultured with autologous B cells, BAFF protein level decreased, whereas the mRNA level was stable. In one closely monitored patient, the mRNA ratio of BAFF to actin in PBMCs increased later than the BAFF serum level.
Two distinct mechanisms are probably involved in the increase in BAFF level after B cell depletion: (1) the decrease in its receptors leading to a release of BAFF; (2) a delayed regulation of BAFF mRNA transcription. This could favour the re‐emergence of autoreactive B cells.
PMCID: PMC1954605  PMID: 17040963
7.  Increased levels of circulating microparticles in primary Sjögren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis and relation with disease activity 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(5):R156.
Cell stimulation leads to the shedding of phosphatidylserine (PS)-rich microparticles (MPs). Because autoimmune diseases (AIDs) are characterized by cell activation, we investigated level of circulating MPs as a possible biomarker in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
We measured plasma levels of total, platelet and leukocyte MPs by prothrombinase capture assay and flow cytometry in 43 patients with pSS, 20 with SLE and 24 with RA and in 44 healthy controls (HCs). Secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) activity was assessed by fluorometry. Soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L) and soluble P-selectin (sCD62P), reflecting platelet activation, were measured by ELISA.
Patients with pSS showed increased plasma level of total MPs (mean ± SEM 8.49 ± 1.14 nM PS equivalent (Eq), P < 0.0001), as did patients with RA (7.23 ± 1.05 n PS Eq, P = 0.004) and SLE (7.3 ± 1.25 nM PS Eq, P = 0.0004), as compared with HCs (4.13 ± 0.2 nM PS Eq). Patients with AIDs all showed increased level of platelet MPs (P < 0.0001), but only those with pSS showed increased level of leukocyte MPs (P < 0.0001). Results by capture assay and flow cytometry were correlated. In patients with high disease activity according to extra-glandular complications (pSS), DAS28 (RA) or SLEDAI (SLE) compared with low-activity patients, the MP level was only slightly increased in comparison with those having a low disease activity. Platelet MP level was inversely correlated with anti-DNA antibody level in SLE (r = -0.65; P = 0.003) and serum β2 microglobulin level in pSS (r = -0.37; P < 0.03). The levels of total and platelet MPs were inversely correlated with sPLA2 activity (r = -0.37, P = 0.0007; r = -0.36, P = 0.002, respectively). sCD40L and sCD62P concentrations were significantly higher in pSS than in HC (P ≤ 0.006).
Plasma MP level is elevated in pSS, as well as in SLE and RA, and could be used as a biomarker reflecting systemic cell activation. Level of leukocyte-derived MPs is increased in pSS only. The MP level is low in case of more severe AID, probably because of high secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) activity, which leads to consumption of MPs. Increase of platelet-derived MPs, sCD40L and sCD62P, highlights platelet activation in pSS.
PMCID: PMC2787287  PMID: 19832990
8.  Effect of methotrexate and anti-TNF on Epstein-Barr virus T-cell response and viral load in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or spondylarthropathies 
There is a suspicion of increased risk of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated lymphoproliferations in patients with inflammatory arthritides receiving immunosuppressive drugs. We investigated the EBV load and EBV-specific T-cell response in patients treated with methotrexate (MTX) or anti-TNF therapy.
Data for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (n = 58) or spondylarthropathy (SpA) (n = 28) were analyzed at baseline in comparison with controls (n = 22) and after 3 months of MTX or anti-TNF therapy for EBV load and EBV-specific IFNγ-producing T cells in response to EBV latent-cycle and lytic-cycle peptides.
The EBV load and the number of IFNγ-producing T-cells after peptide stimulation were not significantly different between groups at baseline (P = 0.61 and P = 0.89, respectively). The EBV load was not significantly modified by treatment, for RA with MTX (P = 0.74) or anti-TNF therapy (P = 0.94) or for SpA with anti-TNF therapy (P = 1.00). The number of EBV-specific T cells was not significantly modified by treatment, for RA with MTX (P = 0.58) or anti-TNF drugs (P = 0.19) or for SpA with anti-TNF therapy (P = 0.39). For all patients, the EBV load and EBV-specific T cells were significantly correlated (P = 0.017; R = 0.21). For most patients, short-term exposure (3 months) to MTX or anti-TNF did not alter the EBV load or EBV-specific T-cell response but two patients had discordant evolution.
These data are reassuring and suggest there is no short-term defect in EBV-immune surveillance in patients receiving MTX or anti-TNF drugs. However, in these patients, long term follow-up of EBV-specific T-cell response is necessary and the role of non-EBV-related mechanisms of lymphomagenesis is not excluded.
PMCID: PMC2714125  PMID: 19470150
9.  B cell-activating factor of the tumor necrosis factor family (BAFF) is expressed under stimulation by interferon in salivary gland epithelial cells in primary Sjögren's syndrome 
B cell-activating factor (BAFF) has a key role in promoting B-lymphocyte activation and survival in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS). The cellular origin of BAFF overexpression in salivary glands of patients with pSS is not fully known. We investigated whether salivary gland epithelial cells (SGECs), the main targets of autoimmunity in pSS, could produce and express BAFF. We used quantitative RT-PCR, ELISA and immunocytochemistry in cultured SGECs from eight patients with pSS and eight controls on treatment with IL-10, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), IFN-α and IFN-γ. At baseline, BAFF expression in SGECs was low in pSS patients and in controls. Treatment with IFN-α, IFN-γ and TNF-α + IFN-γ increased the level of BAFF mRNA in pSS patients (the mean increases were 27-fold, 25-fold and 62-fold, respectively) and in controls (mean increases 19.1-fold, 26.7-fold and 17.7-fold, respectively), with no significant difference between patients and controls. However, in comparison with that at baseline, stimulation with IFN-α significantly increased the level of BAFF mRNA in SGECs of pSS patients (p = 0.03) but not in controls (p = 0.2), which suggests that SGECs of patients with pSS are particularly susceptible to expressing BAFF under IFN-α stimulation. Secretion of BAFF protein, undetectable at baseline, was significantly increased after IFN-α and IFN-γ stimulation both in pSS patients (40.8 ± 12.5 (± SEM) and 47.4 ± 18.7 pg/ml, respectively) and controls (24.9 ± 8.0 and 9.0 ± 3.9 pg/ml, respectively), with no significant difference between pSS and controls. Immunocytochemistry confirmed the induction of cytoplasmic BAFF expression after stimulation with IFN-α and IFN-γ. This study confirms the importance of resident cells of target organs in inducing or perpetuating autoimmunity. Demonstrating the capacity of SGECs to express and secrete BAFF after IFN stimulation adds further information to the pivotal role of these epithelial cells in the pathogenesis of pSS, possibly after stimulation by innate immunity. Our results suggest that an anti-BAFF therapeutic approach could be particularly interesting in pSS.
PMCID: PMC1526588  PMID: 16507175
10.  No evidence for an association between the -871 T/C promoter polymorphism in the B-cell-activating factor gene and primary Sjögren's syndrome 
Polyclonal B cell activation might be related to pathogenic over-expression of B-cell-activating factor (BAFF) in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) and other autoimmune diseases. We therefore investigated whether BAFF over-expression in pSS could be a primary, genetically determined event that leads to the disease. The complete BAFF gene was sequenced in Caucasian pSS patients and control individuals. The only single nucleotide polymorphism frequently observed, namely -871 T/C in the promoter region, was then genotyped in 162 French patients with pSS and 90 French control individuals. No significant differences in allele (T allele frequency: 49.7% in patients with pSS versus 50% in controls; P = 0.94) and genotype frequencies of BAFF polymorphism were detected between pSS patients and control individuals. BAFF gene polymorphism was not associated with a specific pattern of antibody secretion either. T allele carriers had significantly increased BAFF protein serum levels (mean values of 8.6 and 5.7 ng/ml in patients with TT and TC genotypes, respectively, versus 3.3 ng/ml in patients with CC genotype; P = 0.01), although no correlation was observed between BAFF polymorphism and mRNA level. In conclusion, BAFF gene polymorphism is neither involved in genetic predisposition to pSS nor associated with a specific pattern of antibody production.
PMCID: PMC1526574  PMID: 16507129

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