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1.  IgG4-related disease: current challenges and future prospects 
Immunoglobulin G4-related disease (IgG4-RD) represents an immune-mediated fibroinflammatory condition with a characteristic histopathological appearance that can affect various organs. Although numerous single-organ manifestations have been described more than a century ago, its systemic nature and unique features were only discovered in the last 2 decades, when IgG4-RD emerged as a new entity of disease. IgG4-RD is usually considered a rare disease, but its true epidemiology has not yet been fully clarified. Also, despite recent advances in the identification of the underlying immunological processes, its pathophysiology is only incompletely understood till now. The diagnostic workup of IgG4-RD is complex and usually requires a combination of clinical examination, imaging, histological, and serological analyses. However, no finding alone is specific for IgG4-RD. Therefore, its diagnosis requires careful interpretation of examination results in context with the patient’s clinical appearance as well as the exclusion of a broad variety of differential diagnoses. The past years brought rapid advances concerning this novel disease entity: diagnostic criteria, further insights into the underlying immunological processes, new biomarkers, and novel therapeutic approaches were proposed and widened the knowledge in the field of IgG4-RD. Still, a greater number of questions remain unanswered, and many recent developments require further discussion and proof from clinical trials. This review should give an overview on current knowledge and future perspectives in epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and therapy of IgG4-RD.
doi:10.2147/TCRM.S99985
PMCID: PMC4760655  PMID: 26929632
PET/CT; autoimmune pancreatitis; plasmablast; rituximab
2.  Serum Biomarkers in Patients with Relapsing Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss) 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0121737.
Introduction
Previous studies suggest a role for eotaxin-3, TARC/CCL17 and IgG4 in newly- diagnosed patients with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA, Churg-Strauss) with highly active disease. The role of these biomarkers in relapsing disease is unclear.
Methods
Serum levels of TARC/CCL17, eotaxin-3, IgG4, and IgG4/IgG ratio were determined in serum samples from a longitudinal cohort of patients with EGPA (105 visits of 25 patients). Epidemiological, clinical and laboratory data were available for all visits.
Results
At the first visit, 80% of patients were using glucocorticoids and 68% additional immunosuppressive drugs. Disease flares were seen at 18 visits. The median BVAS and BVAS/WG scores at time of relapse were 4 and 2, respectively. None of the biomarkers tested were useful to discriminate between active disease and remission. Patients treated with prednisone had lower eotaxin-3 and eosinophil levels compared to patients not taking glucocorticoids irrespective of disease activity. Use of immunosuppressive agents was not associated with biomarker levels.
Conclusions
Serum levels of TARC/CCL17, eotaxin-3, IgG4, and IgG4/IgG ratio do not clearly differentiate active and inactive disease in established EGPA. Defining biomarkers in EGPA remains a challenge especially during times of glucocorticoid use.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121737
PMCID: PMC4374913  PMID: 25812008
3.  IgG4- related disease: an orphan disease with many faces 
Immunoglobulin G4- related disease (IgG4-RD) is a rare systemic fibro-inflammatory disorder (ORPHA284264). Although patients have been described more than 100 years ago, the systemic nature of this disease has been recognized in the 21st century only. Type 1 autoimmune pancreatitis is the most frequent manifestation of IgG4-RD. However, IgG4-RD can affect any organ such as salivary glands, orbits, retroperitoneum and many others. Recent research enabled a clear clinical and histopathological description of IgG4-RD. Typically, lymphoplasmacellular inflammation, storiform fibrosis and obliterative phlebitis are found in IgG4-RD biopsies and the tissue invading plasma cells largely produce IgG4. Elevated serum IgG4 levels are found in many but not all patients. Consequently, diagnostic criteria for IgG4-RD have been proposed recently. Treatment is largely based on clinical experience and retrospective case series. Glucocorticoids are the mainstay of therapy, although adjunctive immunosuppressive agents are used in relapsing patients. This review summarizes current knowledge on clinical manifestations, pathophysiology and treatment of IgG4-RD.
doi:10.1186/s13023-014-0110-z
PMCID: PMC4223520  PMID: 25026959
IgG4-RD; Immunoglobulin 4; Storiform fibrosis; Lymphoplasmacytic inflammation
4.  Influence of antiTNF-alpha antibody treatment on fracture healing under chronic inflammation 
Background
The overexpression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α leads to systemic as well as local loss of bone and cartilage and is also an important regulator during fracture healing. In this study, we investigate how TNF-α inhibition using a targeted monoclonal antibody affects fracture healing in a TNF-α driven animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and elucidate the question whether enduring the anti TNF-α therapy after trauma is beneficial or not.
Methods
A standardized femur fracture was applied to wild type and human TNF-α transgenic mice (hTNFtg mice), which develop an RA-like chronic polyarthritis. hTNFtg animals were treated with anti-TNF antibody (Infliximab) during the fracture repair. Untreated animals served as controls. Fracture healing was evaluated after 14 and 28 days of treatment by clinical assessment, biomechanical testing and histomorphometry.
Results
High levels of TNF-α influence fracture healing negatively, lead to reduced cartilage and more soft tissue in the callus as well as decreased biomechanical bone stability. Blocking TNF-α in hTNFtg mice lead to similar biomechanical and histomorphometrical properties as in wild type.
Conclusions
High levels of TNF-α during chronic inflammation have a negative impact on fracture healing. Our data suggest that TNF-α inhibition by an anti-TNF antibody does not interfere with fracture healing.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-184
PMCID: PMC4059090  PMID: 24885217
Anti-TNFα; Inflammation; Fracture healing; Rheumatoid arthritis; Treatment
5.  Diabetes Is an Independent Predictor for Severe Osteoarthritis 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(2):403-409.
OBJECTIVE
To evaluate if type 2 diabetes is an independent risk predictor for severe osteoarthritis (OA).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Population-based cohort study with an age- and sex-stratified random sample of 927 men and women aged 40–80 years and followed over 20 years (1990–2010).
RESULTS
Rates of arthroplasty (95% CI) were 17.7 (9.4–30.2) per 1,000 person-years in patients with type 2 diabetes and 5.3 (4.1–6.6) per 1,000 person-years in those without (P < 0.001). Type 2 diabetes emerged as an independent risk predictor for arthroplasty: hazard ratios (95% CI), 3.8 (2.1–6.8) (P < 0.001) in an unadjusted analysis and 2.1 (1.1–3.8) (P = 0.023) after adjustment for age, BMI, and other risk factors for OA. The probability of arthroplasty increased with disease duration of type 2 diabetes and applied to men and women, as well as subgroups according to age and BMI. Our findings were corroborated in cross-sectional evaluation by more severe clinical symptoms of OA and structural joint changes in subjects with type 2 diabetes compared with those without type 2 diabetes.
CONCLUSIONS
Type 2 diabetes predicts the development of severe OA independent of age and BMI. Our findings strengthen the concept of a strong metabolic component in the pathogenesis of OA.
doi:10.2337/dc12-0924
PMCID: PMC3554306  PMID: 23002084
6.  Genetically Distinct Subsets within ANCA-Associated Vasculitis 
The New England journal of medicine  2012;367(3):214-223.
BACKGROUND
Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)–associated vasculitis is a severe condition encompassing two major syndromes: granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly known as Wegener’s granulomatosis) and microscopic polyangiitis. Its cause is unknown, and there is debate about whether it is a single disease entity and what role ANCA plays in its pathogenesis. We investigated its genetic basis.
METHODS
A genomewide association study was performed in a discovery cohort of 1233 U.K. patients with ANCA-associated vasculitis and 5884 controls and was replicated in 1454 Northern European case patients and 1666 controls. Quality control, population stratification, and statistical analyses were performed according to standard criteria.
RESULTS
We found both major-histocompatibility-complex (MHC) and non-MHC associations with ANCA-associated vasculitis and also that granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis were genetically distinct. The strongest genetic associations were with the antigenic specificity of ANCA, not with the clinical syndrome. Anti–proteinase 3 ANCA was associated with HLA-DP and the genes encoding α1-antitrypsin (SERPINA1) and proteinase 3 (PRTN3) (P = 6.2×10−89, P = 5.6×10−12, and P = 2.6×10−7, respectively). Anti–myeloperoxidase ANCA was associated with HLA-DQ (P = 2.1×10−8).
CONCLUSIONS
This study confirms that the pathogenesis of ANCA-associated vasculitis has a genetic component, shows genetic distinctions between granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis that are associated with ANCA specificity, and suggests that the response against the autoantigen proteinase 3 is a central pathogenic feature of proteinase 3 ANCA–associated vasculitis. These data provide preliminary support for the concept that proteinase 3 ANCA–associated vasculitis and myeloperoxidase ANCA–associated vasculitis are distinct autoimmune syndromes. (Funded by the British Heart Foundation and others.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1108735
PMCID: PMC3773907  PMID: 22808956
7.  An Incidentally Found Inflamed Uterine Myoma Causing Low Abdominal Pain, Using Tc-99m-Tektrotyd Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography-CT Hybrid Imaging 
Korean Journal of Radiology  2013;14(5):841-844.
We report the case of a 50-year-old woman presented with a history of right hemicolectomy due to an ileocecal neuroendocrine tumor and left breast metastasis. Owing to a slightly elevated chromogranin A-level and lower abdominal pain, single photon emission computed tomography-computer tomography (SPECT-CT) was performed. There were no signs of recurrence on the SPECT-CT scan, but the patient was incidentally found to have an inflamed intramural myoma. We believe that the slightly elevated chromogranin A-level was caused by the hypertension that the patient presented. In the clinical context, this is a report of an inflamed uterine myoma seen as a false positive result detected by TC-99m-Tc-EDDA/HYNIC-Tyr3-Octreotide (Tektrotyd) SPECT-CT hybrid imaging.
doi:10.3348/kjr.2013.14.5.841
PMCID: PMC3772269  PMID: 24043983
Tektrotyd; SPECT-CT; Uterine myoma
8.  The Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase p38α Regulates Tubular Damage in Murine Anti-Glomerular Basement Membrane Nephritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56316.
p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is thought to play a central role in acute and chronic inflammatory responses. Whether p38MAPK plays a pathogenic role in crescentic GN (GN) and which of its four isoforms is preferentially involved in kidney inflammation is not definitely known. We thus examined expression and activation of p38MAPK isoforms during anti-glomerular basement membrane (GBM) nephritis. Therefore, p38α conditional knockout mice (MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ) were used to examine the role of p38α in anti-GBM induced nephritis. Both wild type and MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice developed acute renal failure over time. Histological examinations revealed a reduced monocyte influx and less tubular damage in MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice, whereas glomerular crescent formation and renal fibrosis was similar. Likewise, the levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF, IL-1 and IL-10 were similar, but IL-8 was even up-regulated in MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice. In contrast, we could detect strong down-regulation of chemotactic cytokines such as CCL-2, -5 and -7, in the kidneys of MxCre-p38αΔ/Δ mice. In conclusion, p38α is the primary p38MAPK isoform expressed in anti-GBM nephritis and selectively affects inflammatory cell influx and tubular damage. Full protection from nephritis is however not achieved as renal failure and structural damage still occurs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056316
PMCID: PMC3575386  PMID: 23441175
9.  Positive regulators of osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption in rheumatoid arthritis 
Bone destruction is a frequent and clinically serious event in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Local joint destruction can cause joint instability and often necessitates reconstructive or replacement surgery. Moreover, inflammation-induced systemic bone loss is associated with an increased fracture risk. Bone resorption is a well-controlled process that is dependent on the differentiation of monocytes to bone-resorbing osteoclasts. Infiltrating as well as resident synovial cells, such as T cells, monocytes and synovial fibroblasts, have been identified as sources of osteoclast differentiation signals in RA patients. Pro-inflammatory cytokines are amongst the most important mechanisms driving this process. In particular, macrophage colony-stimulating factor, RANKL, TNF, IL-1 and IL-17 may play dominant roles in the pathogenesis of arthritis-associated bone loss. These cytokines activate different intracellular pathways to initiate osteoclast differentiation. Thus, over the past years several promising targets for the treatment of arthritic bone destruction have been defined.
doi:10.1186/ar3380
PMCID: PMC3239343  PMID: 21861862
10.  Platelet-derived serotonin links vascular disease and tissue fibrosis 
Blocking 5-HT2B receptor provides a therapeutic target for fibrotic diseases caused by activated platelet release of serotonin during vascular damage.
Vascular damage and platelet activation are associated with tissue remodeling in diseases such as systemic sclerosis, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this association have not been identified. In this study, we show that serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]) stored in platelets strongly induces extracellular matrix synthesis in interstitial fibroblasts via activation of 5-HT2B receptors (5-HT2B) in a transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)–dependent manner. Dermal fibrosis was reduced in 5-HT2B−/− mice using both inducible and genetic models of fibrosis. Pharmacologic inactivation of 5-HT2B also effectively prevented the onset of experimental fibrosis and ameliorated established fibrosis. Moreover, inhibition of platelet activation prevented fibrosis in different models of skin fibrosis. Consistently, mice deficient for TPH1, the rate-limiting enzyme for 5-HT production outside the central nervous system, showed reduced experimental skin fibrosis. These findings suggest that 5-HT/5-HT2B signaling links vascular damage and platelet activation to tissue remodeling and identify 5-HT2B as a novel therapeutic target to treat fibrotic diseases.
doi:10.1084/jem.20101629
PMCID: PMC3092343  PMID: 21518801
11.  Microparticles stimulate angiogenesis by inducing ELR+ CXC-chemokines in synovial fibroblasts 
Abstract
Microparticles (MPs) are small membrane-vesicles that accumulate in the synovial fluids of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In the arthritic joints, MPs induce a pro-inflammatory and invasive phenotype in synovial fibroblasts (SFs). The present study investigated whether activation of SFs by MPs stimulates angiogenesis in the inflamed joints of patients with RA. MPs were isolated from Jurkat cells and U937 cells by differential centrifugation. SFs were co-cultured with increasing numbers of MPs. The effects of supernatants from co-cultures on endothelial cells were studied in vitro and in vivo using MTT assays, annexin V and propidium iodide staining, trans-well migration assays and modified matrigel pouch assays. MPs strongly induced the expression of the pro-angiogenic ELR+ chemokines CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL3, CXCL5 and CXCL6 in RASFs. Other vascular growth factors were not induced. Supernatants from co-cultures enhanced the migration of endothelial cells, which could be blocked by neutralizing antibodies against ELR+ chemokines. Consistent with the specific induction of ELR+ chemokines, proliferation and viability of endothelial cells were not affected by the supernatants. In the in vivo bio-chamber assay, supernatants from RASFs co-cultured with MPs stimulated angiogenesis with a significant increase of vessels infiltrating into the matrigel chamber. We demonstrated that MPs activate RASFs to release pro-angiogenic ELR+ chemokines. These pro-angiogenic mediators enhance migration of endothelial cells and stimulate the formation of new vessels. Our data suggest that MPs may contribute to the hypervascularization of inflamed joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
doi:10.1111/j.1582-4934.2010.01051.x
PMCID: PMC3922664  PMID: 20219013
angiogenesis; microparticles; rheumatoid arthritis
12.  Lack of inhibitory effects of the anti-fibrotic drug imatinib on endothelial cell functions in vitro and in vivo 
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a systemic autoimmune disease that is characterized by microangiopathy with progressive loss of capillaries and tissue fibrosis. Imatinib exerts potent anti-fibrotic effects and is currently evaluated in clinical trials. The aim of the present study was to exclude that the anti-fibrotic effects of imatinib are complicated by inhibitory effects on endothelial cell functions, which might augment vascular disease in SSc. Endothelial cells and mice were treated with pharmacologically relevant concentrations of imatinib. The expression of markers of vascular activation was assessed with real-time PCR. Proliferation was analysed with the cell counting experiments and the MTT assay. Apoptosis was quantified with caspase 3 assays, annexin V in vitro and with TUNEL staining in vivo. Migration was studied with scratch and transwell assays. Tube forming was investigated with the matrigel assay. Imatinib did not alter the expression of markers of vascular activation. Imatinib did not increase the percentage of annexin V positive cells or the activity of caspase 3. No reduction in proliferation or metabolic activity of endothelial cells was observed. Imatinib did not affect migration of endothelial cells and did not reduce the formation of capillary tubes. Consistent with the in vitro data, no difference in the number of apoptotic endothelial cells was observed in vivo in mice treated with imatinib. Imatinib does not inhibit activation, viability, proliferation, migration or tube forming of endothelial cells in vitro and in vivo. Thus, treatment with imatinib might not augment further endothelial cell damage in SSc.
doi:10.1111/j.1582-4934.2008.00492.x
PMCID: PMC4496125  PMID: 18774958
imatinib; scleroderma; sclerosis; endothelial cells; angiogenesis; vasculopathy; fibrosis; c-ab; PDGF; TGFβ
13.  Imbalance of local bone metabolism in inflammatory arthritis and its reversal upon tumor necrosis factor blockade: direct analysis of bone turnover in murine arthritis 
Chronic arthritis typically leads to loss of periarticular bone, which results from an imbalance between bone formation and bone resorption. Recent research has focused on the role of osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption in arthritis. Bone resorption cannot be observed isolated, however, since it is closely linked to bone formation and altered bone formation may also affect inflammatory bone loss. To simultaneously assess bone resorption and bone formation in inflammatory arthritis, we developed a histological technique that allows visualization of osteoblast function by in-situ hybridization for osteocalcin and osteoclast function by histochemistry for tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase. Paw sections from human tumor necrosis factor transgenic mice, which develop an erosive arthritis, were analyzed at three different skeletal sites: subchondral bone erosions, adjacent cortical bone channels, and endosteal regions distant from bone erosions. In subchondral bone erosions, osteoclasts were far more common than osteoblasts. In contrast, cortical bone channels underneath subchondral bone erosions showed an accumulation of osteoclasts but also of functional osteoblasts resembling a status of high bone turnover. In contrast, more distant skeletal sites showed only very low bone turnover with few scattered osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Within subchondral bone erosions, osteoclasts populated the subchondral as well as the inner wall, whereas osteoblasts were almost exclusively found along the cortical surface. Blockade of tumor necrosis factor reversed the negative balance of bone turnover, leading to a reduction of osteoclast numbers and enhanced osteoblast numbers, whereas the blockade of osteoclastogenesis by osteoprotegerin also abrogated the osteoblastic response. These data indicate that bone resorption dominates at skeletal sites close to synovial inflammatory tissue, whereas bone formation is induced at more distant sites attempting to counter-regulate bone resorption.
doi:10.1186/ar1872
PMCID: PMC1526585  PMID: 16507121
14.  CD44 is a determinant of inflammatory bone loss 
Chronic inflammation is a major trigger of local and systemic bone loss. Disintegration of cell–matrix interaction is a prerequisite for the invasion of inflammatory tissue into bone. CD44 is a type I transmembrane glycoprotein that connects a variety of extracellular matrix proteins to the cell surface. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a major inducer of chronic inflammation and its overexpression leads to chronic inflammatory arthritis. By generating CD44−/− human TNF-transgenic (hTNFtg) mice, we show that destruction of joints and progressive crippling is far more severe in hTNFtg mice lacking CD44, which also develop severe generalized osteopenia. Mutant mice exhibit an increased bone resorption due to enhanced number, size, and resorptive capacity of osteoclasts, whereas bone formation and osteoblast differentiation are not affected. Responsiveness of CD44-deficient osteoclasts toward TNF is enhanced and associated with increased activation of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. These data identify CD44 as a critical inhibitor of TNF-driven joint destruction and inflammatory bone loss.
doi:10.1084/jem.20040852
PMCID: PMC2213110  PMID: 15781582
15.  Tumour necrosis factor activates the mitogen-activated protein kinases p38α and ERK in the synovial membrane in vivo 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(5):R1140-R1147.
Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) is considered to be a major factor in chronic synovial inflammation and is an inducer of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling. In the present study we investigated the ability of TNF to activate MAPKs in the synovial membrane in vivo. We studied human TNF transgenic mice – an in vivo model of TNF-induced arthritis – to examine phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), c-Jun amino terminal kinase (JNK) and p38MAPKα in the inflamed joints by means of immunoblot and immunohistochemistry. In addition, the effects of systemic blockade of TNF, IL-1 and receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB (RANK) ligand on the activation of MAPKs were assessed. In vivo, overexpression of TNF induced activation of p38MAPKα and ERK in the synovial membrane, whereas activation of JNK was less pronounced and rarely observed on immunohistochemical analysis. Activated p38MAPKα was predominantly found in synovial macrophages, whereas ERK activation was present in both synovial macrophages and fibroblasts. T and B lymphocytes did not exhibit major activation of any of the three MAPKs. Systemic blockade of TNF reduced activation of p38MAPKα and ERK, whereas inhibition of IL-1 only affected p38MAPKα and blockade of RANK ligand did not result in any decrease in MAPK activation in the synovial membrane. These data indicate that TNF preferentially activates p38MAPKα and ERK in synovial membrane exposed to TNF. This not only suggests that targeted inhibition of p38MAPKα and ERK is a feasible strategy for blocking TNF-mediated effects on joints, but it also shows that even currently available methods to block TNF effectively reduce activation of these two MAPKs.
doi:10.1186/ar1797
PMCID: PMC1257441  PMID: 16207331
16.  Activation of canonical Wnt signalling is required for TGF-β-mediated fibrosis 
Nature Communications  2012;3:735-.
The transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signalling pathway is a key mediator of fibroblast activation that drives the aberrant synthesis of extracellular matrix in fibrotic diseases. Here we demonstrate a novel link between transforming growth factor-β and the canonical Wnt pathway. TGF-β stimulates canonical Wnt signalling in a p38-dependent manner by decreasing the expression of the Wnt antagonist Dickkopf-1. Tissue samples from human fibrotic diseases show enhanced expression of Wnt proteins and decreased expression of Dickkopf-1. Activation of the canonical Wnt pathway stimulates fibroblasts in vitro and induces fibrosis in vivo. Transgenic overexpression of Dickkopf-1 ameliorates skin fibrosis induced by constitutively active TGF-β receptor type I signalling and also prevents fibrosis in other TGF-β-dependent animal models. These findings demonstrate that canonical Wnt signalling is necessary for TGF-β-mediated fibrosis and highlight a key role for the interaction of both pathways in the pathogenesis of fibrotic diseases.
Aberrant activation of the TGF-β pathway leads to fibrotic disease. Distler and colleagues show that TGF-β-mediated fibrosis requires the decrease of Dickkopf-1, an antagonist of canonical Wnt signalling, suggesting that the two pathways interact for the manifestation of this disease.
doi:10.1038/ncomms1734
PMCID: PMC3316881  PMID: 22415826

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