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1.  Vitamin D in SLE: Modest Association with Disease Activity and Urine Protein/Creatinine Ratio 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(7):1865-1871.
Objective
We investigated whether an increase in vitamin D levels in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus was associated with improvement in disease activity.
Methods
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.
Results
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%).
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/art.37953
PMCID: PMC3701725  PMID: 23553077
Vitamin D; Disease activity; Proteinuria; Systemic lupus Erythematosus
2.  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.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3007097
PMCID: PMC3982386  PMID: 24353158
3.  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.
doi:10.1016/j.berh.2013.07.005
PMCID: PMC3834352  PMID: 24238698
Systemic lupus erythematosus; anti-phospholipid antibodies; pregnancy; fetal loss; pre-eclampsia; neonatal lupus syndromes
4.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093846
PMCID: PMC4010412  PMID: 24796678
5.  Cancer risk in systemic lupus: An updated international multi-centre cohort study 
Journal of autoimmunity  2013;42:130-135.
OBJECTIVE
To update estimates of cancer risk in SLE relative to the general population.
METHODS
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.
RESULTS
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).
CONCLUSION
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.
doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2012.12.009
PMCID: PMC3646904  PMID: 23410586
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Epidemiology; Treatment; Disease Activity
6.  End-Stage Renal Disease in African Americans With Lupus Nephritis Is Associated With APOL1 
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/art.38220
PMCID: PMC4002759  PMID: 24504811
7.  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.
doi:10.1038/gene.2009.80
PMCID: PMC3951966  PMID: 19847193
Systemic lupus erythematosus; epidemiology; population substructure; genetics
8.  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.
doi:10.1038/ng.202
PMCID: PMC3897246  PMID: 19165919
9.  SNPs in VKORC1 are Risk Factors for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Asians 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(1):211-215.
OBJECTIVE
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.
METHODS
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.
RESULTS
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).
CONCLUSION
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.
doi:10.1002/art.37751
PMCID: PMC3670944  PMID: 23124848
systemic lupus erythematosus; single nucleotide polymorphisms; genetic risk factors
10.  European Genetic Ancestry is Associated with a Decreased Risk of Lupus Nephritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(10):10.1002/art.34567.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/art.34567
PMCID: PMC3865923  PMID: 23023776
11.  Predictors of Organ Damage in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: the Hopkins’ Lupus Cohort 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(12):4021-4028.
Objective
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.
Methods
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..
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/art.34672
PMCID: PMC3510359  PMID: 22932985
SLICC/ACR Damage index (SDI); SLE
12.  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.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/ket378
PMCID: PMC3930886  PMID: 24273022
epratuzumab; CD22; ALLEVIATE; lupus; SLE; HRQOL; SF-36; corticosteroids; clinical trial; monoclonal antibody
13.  Two Independent Functional Risk Haplotypes in TNIP1 are Associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3695-3705.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1002/art.34642
PMCID: PMC3485412  PMID: 22833143
14.  Impact of Genetic Ancestry and Socio-Demographic Status on the Clinical Expression of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in Amerindian-European Populations 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3687-3694.
Objective
Amerindian-Europeans, Asians and African-Americans have an excess morbidity from SLE and higher prevalence of lupus nephritis than Caucasians. The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between genetic ancestry and socio-demographic characteristics and clinical features in a large cohort of Amerindian-European SLE patients.
Methods
A total of 2116 SLE patients of Amerindian-European origin and 4001 SLE patients of European descent with clinical data were used in the study. Genotyping of 253 continental ancestry informative markers was performed on the Illumina platform. The STRUCTURE and ADMIXTURE software were used to determine genetic ancestry of each individual. Correlation between ancestry and socio-demographic and clinical data were analyzed using logistic regression.
Results
The average Amerindian genetic ancestry of 2116 SLE patients was 40.7%. There was an increased risk of having renal involvement (P<0.0001, OR= 3.50 95%CI 2.63-4.63) and an early age of onset with the presence of Amerindian genetic ancestry (P<0.0001). Amerindian ancestry protected against photosensitivity (P<0.0001, OR= 0.58 95%CI 0.44-0.76), oral ulcers (P<0.0001, OR= 0.55 95%CI 0.42-0.72), and serositis (P<0.0001, OR= 0.56 95%CI 0.41-0.75) after adjustment by age, gender and age of onset. However, gender and age of onset had stronger effects on malar rash, discoid rash, arthritis and neurological involvement than genetic ancestry.
Conclusion
In general, genetic Amerindian ancestry correlates with lower socio-demographic status and increases the risk for developing renal involvement and SLE at an earlier age of onset.
doi:10.1002/art.34650
PMCID: PMC3485439  PMID: 22886787
15.  Incidence of and Risk Factors for Adverse Cardiovascular Events Among Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(8):708-719.
Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are at excess risk of cardiovascular events (CVEs). There is uncertainty regarding the relative importance of SLE disease activity, medications, or traditional risk factors in this increased risk. To gain insight into this, the authors analyzed data from a cohort of 1,874 patients with SLE who were seen quarterly at a single clinical center (April 1987–June 2010) using pooled logistic regression analysis. In 9,485 person-years of follow-up, the authors observed 134 CVEs (rate = 14.1/1,000 person-years). This was 2.66 times what would be expected in the general population based on Framingham risk scores (95% confidence interval: 2.16, 3.16). After adjustment for age, CVE rates were not associated with duration of SLE. However, they were associated with average past levels of SLE disease activity and recent levels of circulating anti-double-stranded DNA. Past use of corticosteroids (in the absence of current use) was not associated with CVE rates. However, persons currently using 20 mg/day or more of corticosteroids had a substantial increase in risk even after adjustment for disease activity. Thus, consistent with findings in several recent publications among cohorts with other diseases, current use of corticosteroids was associated with an increased risk of CVEs. These results suggest a short-term impact of corticosteroids on CVE risk.
doi:10.1093/aje/kws130
PMCID: PMC3571250  PMID: 23024137
angina pectoris; coronary artery bypass surgery; intermittent claudication; lupus erythematosus, systemic; myocardial infarction, prednisone; risk factors; stroke
16.  Preferential Binding to Elk-1 by SLE-Associated IL10 Risk Allele Upregulates IL10 Expression 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003870.
Immunoregulatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) is elevated in sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) correlating with disease activity. The established association of IL10 with SLE and other autoimmune diseases led us to fine map causal variant(s) and to explore underlying mechanisms. We assessed 19 tag SNPs, covering the IL10 gene cluster including IL19, IL20 and IL24, for association with SLE in 15,533 case and control subjects from four ancestries. The previously reported IL10 variant, rs3024505 located at 1 kb downstream of IL10, exhibited the strongest association signal and was confirmed for association with SLE in European American (EA) (P = 2.7×10−8, OR = 1.30), but not in non-EA ancestries. SNP imputation conducted in EA dataset identified three additional SLE-associated SNPs tagged by rs3024505 (rs3122605, rs3024493 and rs3024495 located at 9.2 kb upstream, intron 3 and 4 of IL10, respectively), and SLE-risk alleles of these SNPs were dose-dependently associated with elevated levels of IL10 mRNA in PBMCs and circulating IL-10 protein in SLE patients and controls. Using nuclear extracts of peripheral blood cells from SLE patients for electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we identified specific binding of transcription factor Elk-1 to oligodeoxynucleotides containing the risk (G) allele of rs3122605, suggesting rs3122605 as the most likely causal variant regulating IL10 expression. Elk-1 is known to be activated by phosphorylation and nuclear localization to induce transcription. Of interest, phosphorylated Elk-1 (p-Elk-1) detected only in nuclear extracts of SLE PBMCs appeared to increase with disease activity. Co-expression levels of p-Elk-1 and IL-10 were elevated in SLE T, B cells and monocytes, associated with increased disease activity in SLE B cells, and were best downregulated by ERK inhibitor. Taken together, our data suggest that preferential binding of activated Elk-1 to the IL10 rs3122605-G allele upregulates IL10 expression and confers increased risk for SLE in European Americans.
Author Summary
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a debilitating autoimmune disease characterized by the production of pathogenic autoantibodies, has a strong genetic basis. Variants of the IL10 gene, which encodes cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) with known function of promoting B cell hyperactivity and autoantibody production, are associated with SLE and other autoimmune diseases, and serum IL-10 levels are elevated in SLE patients correlating with increased disease activity. In this study, to discover SLE-predisposing causal variant(s), we assessed variants within the genomic region containing IL10 and its gene family member IL19, IL20 and IL24 for association with SLE in case and control subjects from diverse ancestries. We identified SLE-associated SNP rs3122605 located at 9.2 kb upstream of IL10 as the most likely causal variant in subjects of European ancestry. The SLE-risk allele of rs3122605 was dose-dependently associated with elevated IL10 expression at both mRNA and protein levels in peripheral blood samples from SLE patients and controls, which could be explained, at least in part, by its preferential binding to Elk-1, a transcription factor activated in B cells during active disease of SLE patients. Elk-1-mediated IL-10 overexpression could be downregulated by inhibiting activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases, suggesting a potential therapeutic target for SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003870
PMCID: PMC3794920  PMID: 24130510
17.  Progression of coronary artery atherosclerosis in rheumatoid arthritis: comparison with participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R134.
Introduction
In cross-sectional studies, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher coronary artery calcium (CAC) than controls. However, their rate of progression of CAC and the predictors of CAC progression have heretofore remained unknown.
Methods
Incidence and progression of CAC were compared in 155 patients with RA and 835 control participants. The association of demographic characteristics, traditional cardiovascular risk factors, RA disease characteristics and selected inflammatory markers with incidence and progression of CAC were evaluated.
Results
The incidence rate of newly detected CAC was 8.2/100 person-years in RA and 7.3/100 person-years in non-RA control subjects [IRR 1.1 (0.7-1.8)]. RA patients who developed newly detectable CAC were older (59±7 vs. 55±6 years old, p=0.03), had higher triglyceride levels (137±86 vs. 97±60 mg/dL, p=0.03), and higher systolic blood pressure (129±17 vs. 117±15 mm Hg, p=0.01) compared to those who did not develop incident CAC. Differences in blood pressure and triglyceride levels remained significant after adjustment for age (p<=0.05). RA patients with any CAC at baseline had a median rate of yearly progression of 21 (7–62) compared to 21 (5–70) Agatston units in controls. No statistical differences between RA progressors and RA non-progressors were observed for inflammatory markers or for RA disease characteristics.
Conclusions
The incidence and progression of CAC did not differ between RA and non-RA participants. In patients with RA, incident CAC was associated with older age, higher triglyceride levels, and higher blood pressure, but not with inflammatory markers or RA disease characteristics.
doi:10.1186/ar4314
PMCID: PMC3978773  PMID: 24286380
18.  PTPN22 Association in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) with Respect to Individual Ancestry and Clinical Sub-Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e69404.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 (PTPN22) is a negative regulator of T-cell activation associated with several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Missense rs2476601 is associated with SLE in individuals with European ancestry. Since the rs2476601 risk allele frequency differs dramatically across ethnicities, we assessed robustness of PTPN22 association with SLE and its clinical sub-phenotypes across four ethnically diverse populations. Ten SNPs were genotyped in 8220 SLE cases and 7369 controls from in European-Americans (EA), African-Americans (AA), Asians (AS), and Hispanics (HS). We performed imputation-based association followed by conditional analysis to identify independent associations. Significantly associated SNPs were tested for association with SLE clinical sub-phenotypes, including autoantibody profiles. Multiple testing was accounted for by using false discovery rate. We successfully imputed and tested allelic association for 107 SNPs within the PTPN22 region and detected evidence of ethnic-specific associations from EA and HS. In EA, the strongest association was at rs2476601 (P = 4.7×10−9, OR = 1.40 (95% CI = 1.25–1.56)). Independent association with rs1217414 was also observed in EA, and both SNPs are correlated with increased European ancestry. For HS imputed intronic SNP, rs3765598, predicted to be a cis-eQTL, was associated (P = 0.007, OR = 0.79 and 95% CI = 0.67–0.94). No significant associations were observed in AA or AS. Case-only analysis using lupus-related clinical criteria revealed differences between EA SLE patients positive for moderate to high titers of IgG anti-cardiolipin (aCL IgG >20) versus negative aCL IgG at rs2476601 (P = 0.012, OR = 1.65). Association was reinforced when these cases were compared to controls (P = 2.7×10−5, OR = 2.11). Our results validate that rs2476601 is the most significantly associated SNP in individuals with European ancestry. Additionally, rs1217414 and rs3765598 may be associated with SLE. Further studies are required to confirm the involvement of rs2476601 with aCL IgG.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069404
PMCID: PMC3737240  PMID: 23950893
19.  Variable association of reactive intermediate genes with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in populations with different African ancestry 
The Journal of rheumatology  2013;40(6):842-849.
Objective
Little is known about the genetic etiology of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in individuals of African ancestry, despite its higher prevalence and greater disease severity. Overproduction of nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species are implicated in the pathogenesis and severity of SLE, making NO synthases and other reactive intermediate related genes biological candidates for disease susceptibility. This study analyzed variation in reactive intermediate genes for association with SLE in two populations with African ancestry.
Methods
A total of 244 SNPs from 53 regions were analyzed in non-Gullah African Americans (AA; 1432 cases and 1687 controls) and the genetically more homogeneous Gullah of the Sea Islands of South Carolina (133 cases and 112 controls) and. Single-marker, haplotype, and two-locus interaction tests were computed for these populations.
Results
The glutathione reductase gene GSR (rs2253409, P=0.0014, OR [95% CI]=1.26 [1.09–1.44]) was the most significant single-SNP association in AA. In the Gullah, the NADH dehydrogenase NDUFS4 (rs381575, P=0.0065, OR [95%CI]=2.10 [1.23–3.59]) and nitric oxide synthase gene NOS1 (rs561712, P=0.0072, OR [95%CI]=0.62 [0.44–0.88]) were most strongly associated with SLE. When both populations were analyzed together, GSR remained the most significant effect (rs2253409, P=0.00072, OR [95%CI]=1.26 [1.10–1.44]). Haplotype and two-locus interaction analyses also uncovered different loci in each population.
Conclusion
These results suggest distinct patterns of association with SLE in African-derived populations; specific loci may be more strongly associated within select population groups.
doi:10.3899/jrheum.120989
PMCID: PMC3735344  PMID: 23637325
systemic lupus erythematosus; African Americans; genetic association studies; oxygen compounds; single nucleotide polymorphism
20.  NON-INVASIVE RENAL PROTEIN BIOMARKERS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH HISTOLOGICAL FEATURES OF LUPUS NEPHRITIS 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2687-2697.
Objective
To investigate the relationship of urinary biomarkers (UBM) and established measures of renal function (EMRF) to the histological findings with lupus nephritis (LN); and to test whether certain combinations of the above mentioned laboratory measures are diagnostic of specific histological features of LN.
Methods
Urine samples of 76 patients were collected within 2 months of a kidney biopsy and assayed for the UBM: lipocalin-like prostaglandin-D synthetase (LPGDS), α1-acid-glycoprotein (AAG), transferrin (TF), ceruloplasmin (CP), neutrophil-gelatinase associated lipocalin (NGAL), and monocyte chemotactic factor 1 (MCP1). Using non-parametric analyses, UBM and EMRF levels were compared to histological features seen with LN: mesangial expansion, capillary proliferation, crescent formation, necrosis, wire loops, fibrosis, tubular atrophy, and epimembranous deposits. The area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUC) curve was calculated to predict LN activity, chronicity or membranous LN.
Results
There was a differential increase of the UBM that formed a pattern reflective of specific histological features seen with active LN. The combination of MCP1, AAG, CP plus protein:creatinine ratio were excellent in predicting LN activity (AUC=0.85). NGAL together with creatinine clearance plus MCP1 was an excellent (AUC=0.83) and MCP1, AAG, creatinine clearance plus C4 (AUC=0.75) a good diagnostic test of LN chronicity and membranous LN, respectively.
Conclusions
Select UBM are associated with specific tissue changes observed with LN activity and chronicity. Especially in combination with select EMRF, UBM are well-suited to non-invasively quantify LN activity, LN chronicity, and the presence of membranous LN.
doi:10.1002/art.34426
PMCID: PMC3381849  PMID: 22328173
SLE; lupus nephritis; kidney biopsy; biomarker
21.  Derivation and Validation of Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Classification Criteria for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2677-2686.
Objective
The Systemic Lupus Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) revised and validated the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) SLE classification criteria in order to improve clinical relevance, meet stringent methodology requirements and incorporate new knowledge in SLE immunology.
Methods
The classification criteria were derived from a set of 702 expert-rated patient scenarios. Recursive partitioning was used to derive an initial rule that was simplified and refined based on SLICC physician consensus. SLICC validated the classification criteria in a new validation sample of 690 SLE patients and controls.
Results
Seventeen criteria were identified. The SLICC criteria for SLE classification requires: 1) Fulfillment of at least four criteria, with at least one clinical criterion AND one immunologic criterion OR 2) Lupus nephritis as the sole clinical criterion in the presence of ANA or anti-dsDNA antibodies. In the derivation set, the SLICC classification criteria resulted in fewer misclassifications than the current ACR classification criteria (49 versus 70, p=0.0082), had greater sensitivity (94% versus 86%, p<0.0001) and equal specificity (92% versus 93%, p=0.39). In the validation set, the SLICC Classification criteria resulted in fewer misclassifications (62 versus 74, p=0.24), had greater sensitivity (97% versus 83%, p<0.0001) but less specificity (84% versus 96%, p<0.0001).
Conclusions
The new SLICC classification criteria performed well on a large set of patient scenarios rated by experts. They require that at least one clinical criterion and one immunologic criterion be present for a classification of SLE. Biopsy confirmed nephritis compatible with lupus (in the presence of SLE autoantibodies) is sufficient for classification.
doi:10.1002/art.34473
PMCID: PMC3409311  PMID: 22553077
22.  2013 Update: Hopkins Lupus Cohort 
The Hopkins lupus cohort is a longitudinal cohort study of over 2,000 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, who are seen quarterly. This review covers ten important clinically-relevant studies of the cohort. These studies include the function of prednisone in atherosclerosis and thrombosis, the preventive function of hydroxychloroquine, new insights into rare neurological manifestations, and treatment of flares with bursts of steroids rather than maintenance steroids.
doi:10.1007/s11926-013-0360-0
PMCID: PMC3756858  PMID: 23888367
Systemic lupus erythematosus; SLE; Hopkins lupus cohort; Prednisone; Organ damage; Hydroxychloroquine; Thrombosis; Lupus nephritis; Lupus anticoagulant; Cardiovascular disease; Cognitive impairment; SLE myelitis; Small fiber neuropathy; Vitamin D; Flares
24.  LUPUS ANTICOAGULANT, BUT NOT ANTICARDIOLIPIN ANTIBODY, PREDICTS ADVERSE PREGNANCY OUTCOME IN PATIENTS WITH ANTIPHOSPHOLIPID ANTIBODIES 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2012;64(7):2311-2318.
BACKGROUND
Which serologic and clinical findings predict adverse pregnancy outcome (APO) in patients with antiphospholipid antibody (aPL) is controversial.
METHODS
PROMISSE is a multicenter, prospective observational study of risk factors for APO in patients with aPL (lupus anticoagulant [LAC], anticardiolipin antibody [aCL] and/or antibody to β2 glycoprotein I [anti-β2-GP-I]). We tested the hypothesis that a pattern of clinical and serological variables can identify women at highest risk for APO.
RESULTS
Between 2003 and 2011 we enrolled 144 pregnant patients, of whom 28 had APO. Thirty-nine percent of patients with LAC had APO, compared to 3% who did not have LAC (p < 0.0001). Only 8% of women with IgG aCL ≥40 u/mL but not LAC suffered APO, compared to 43% of those with LAC (p = 0.002). IgM aCL or IgG or IgM anti-β2-GP-I did not predict APO. In bivariate analysis, APO occurred in 52% of patients with and 13% of patients without prior thrombosis (p = 0.00005), and in 23% with SLE compared to 17% without SLE (not significant); SLE was a predictor in multivariate analysis. Prior pregnancy loss did not predict APO, nor did maternal race. Simultaneous aCL, anti-β2-GP-I, and LAC did not predict APO better than did LAC alone.
CONCLUSIONS
LAC is the primary predictor of APO after 12 weeks gestation in aPL-associated pregnancies. ACL and anti-β2-GP-I, if LAC is not also present, do not predict APO.
doi:10.1002/art.34402
PMCID: PMC3357451  PMID: 22275304
25.  Unmet medical needs in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(Suppl 4):S4.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease of diverse manifestations, with onset usually in young women in the third to fourth decade of life. The chronic nature of this relapsing remitting disease leads to organ damage accrual over time. Mortality and morbidity are increased in patients with SLE compared with the general population. Therapeutic advances over the last few decades have led to significant improvements in patient outcomes. Five-year survival has improved to over 90% from a low of 50% in the 1950s. However, multiple aspects of the management of SLE patients are still far from optimal. Early diagnosis remains a challenge; diagnostic delays leading to delay in definitive treatment are common. Monitoring treatment remains problematic due to the paucity of sensitive biomarkers. Current treatment regimens rely heavily on corticosteroids, even though corticosteroids are well known to cause organ damage. Treatment of refractory disease manifestations such as nephritis, recalcitrant cutaneous lesions and neurological involvement require new approaches with greater efficacy. Cognitive dysfunction is common in SLE patients, but early recognition and adequate treatment are yet to be established. Premature accelerated atherosclerosis remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Fatigue is one of the most disabling symptoms, and contributes to the poor quality of life in patients with SLE. Ongoing research in SLE faces many challenges, including enrollment of homogeneous patient populations, use of reliable outcome measures and a standard control arm. The current review will highlight some of the outstanding unmet challenges in the management of this complex disease.
doi:10.1186/ar3919
PMCID: PMC3535719  PMID: 23281889

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