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1.  Lymphoma risk in systemic lupus: effects of disease activity versus treatment 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;73(1):10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202099.
Objective
To examine disease activity versus treatment as lymphoma risk factors in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods
We performed case–cohort analyses within a multisite SLE cohort. Cancers were ascertained by regional registry linkages. Adjusted HRs for lymphoma were generated in regression models, for time-dependent exposures to immunomodulators (cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, methotrexate, mycophenolate, antimalarial drugs, glucocorticoids) demographics, calendar year, Sjogren’s syndrome, SLE duration and disease activity. We used adjusted mean SLE Disease Activity Index scores (SLEDAI-2K) over time, and drugs were treated both categorically (ever/never) and as estimated cumulative doses.
Results
We studied 75 patients with lymphoma (72 non-Hodgkin, three Hodgkin) and 4961 cancer-free controls. Most lymphomas were of B-cell origin. As is seen in the general population, lymphoma risk in SLE was higher in male than female patients and increased with age. Lymphomas occurred a mean of 12.4 years (median 10.9) after SLE diagnosis. Unadjusted and adjusted analyses failed to show a clear association of disease activity with lymphoma risk. There was a suggestion of greater exposure to cyclophosphamide and to higher cumulative steroids in lymphoma cases than the cancer-free controls.
Conclusions
In this large SLE sample, there was a suggestion of higher lymphoma risk with exposure to cyclophosphamide and high cumulative steroids. Disease activity itself was not clearly associated with lymphoma risk. Further work will focus on genetic profiles that might interact with medication exposure to influence lymphoma risk in SLE.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202099
PMCID: PMC3855611  PMID: 23303389
2.  Non-Lymphoma Hematological Malignancies in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Oncology  2013;85(4):10.1159/000350165.
Objective
To describe non-lymphoma hematological malignancies in SLE.
Methods
A large SLE cohort was linked to cancer registries. We examined the types of non-lymphoma hematological cancers.
Results
In 16, 409 patients, 115 hematological cancers (including myelodysplastic syndrome) occurred. Among these, 33 were non-lymphoma. Of the 33 non-lymphoma cases, 13 were of lymphoid lineage: multiple myeloma (N=5), plasmacytoma (N=3), B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, B-CLL (N=3), precursor cell lymphoblastic leukemia (N=1), and unspecified lymphoid leukemia (N=1). The remaining 20 cases were of myeloid lineage: myelodysplastic syndrome, MDS (N=7), acute myeloid leukemia, AML (N=7), chronic myeloid leukemia, CML (N=2), and 4 unspecified leukemias. Most of these malignancies occurred in female Caucasians, except for plasma cell neoplasms (4/5 multiple myeloma and 1/3 plasmacytoma cases occurred in blacks).
Conclusions
In this large SLE cohort, the most common non-lymphoma hematological malignancies were myeloid types (MDS and AML). This contrasts to the general population, where lymphoid types are 1.7 times more common than myeloid non-lymphoma hematological malignancies. Most (80%) multiple myeloma cases occurred in blacks, which requires further investigation.
doi:10.1159/000350165
PMCID: PMC3880772  PMID: 24107608
Systemic lupus erythematosus; malignancy; cancer
6.  A Panel of Biomarkers Is Associated With Increased Risk of the Presence and Progression of Atherosclerosis in Women With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Objective
An increased frequency of atherosclerosis (ATH) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is well-documented but not fully explained by the presence of traditional cardiac risk factors. Several nontraditional biomarkers, including proinflammatory high-density lipoprotein (piHDL) and leptin, have been individually associated with subclinical ATH in SLE. The aim of this study was to examine whether these and other biomarkers can be combined into a risk profile, the Predictors of Risk for Elevated Flares, Damage Progression, and Increased Cardiovascular Disease in Patients with SLE (PREDICTS), that could be used to better predict future progression of ATH.
Methods
In total, 210 patients with SLE and 100 age-matched healthy control subjects (all women) participated in this prospective cohort study. The longitudinal presence of carotid plaque and intima-media thickness (IMT) were measured at baseline and followup (mean ± SD 29.6 ± 9.7 months).
Results
At followup, carotid plaque was present in 29% of SLE patients. Factors significantly associated with plaque, determined using Salford Predictive Modeling and multivariate analysis, included age ≥48 years (odds ratio [OR] 4.1, P = 0.002), high piHDL function (OR 9.1, P < 0.001), leptin levels ≥34 ng/dl (OR 7.3, P = 0.001), plasma soluble TWEAK levels ≥373 pg/ml (OR 28.8, P = 0.004), and history of diabetes (OR 61.8, P < 0.001). Homocysteine levels ≥12 μmoles/liter were also a predictor. However, no single variable demonstrated an ideal combination of good negative predictive values (NPVs), positive predictive values (PPVs), sensitivity, and specificity. A high-risk PREDICTS profile was defined as ≥3 positive biomarkers or ≥1 positive biomarker plus a history of diabetes; for high-risk SLE patients, the PPV was 64%, NPV was 94%, sensitivity was 89%, and specificity was 79%. In multivariate analysis, SLE patients with the high-risk profile had 28-fold increased odds for the longitudinal presence of plaque (P < 0.001) and increased progression of IMT (P < 0.001).
Conclusion
A high-risk PREDICTS score confers 28-fold increased odds of the presence of any current, progressive, or acquired carotid plaque, both in patients with SLE and in control subjects, and is significantly associated with higher rates of IMT progression.
doi:10.1002/art.38204
PMCID: PMC4106468  PMID: 24449580
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
12.  Novel Evidence-Based Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Responder Index 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;61(9):1143-1151.
Objective
To describe a new systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) Responder Index (SRI) based on the belimumab phase II SLE trial and demonstrate its potential utility in SLE clinical trials.
Methods
Data from a 449-patient randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 3 doses of belimumab (1, 4, 10 mg/kg) or placebo plus standard of care therapy (SOC) over a 56-week period were analyzed. SELENA-SLEDAI and BILAG SLE disease activity instruments, SF-36 Health Survey, and biomarker analyses were used to create a novel SRI. Response to treatment in a subset of SLE patients (n=321) who were serologically active (ANA ≥1:80 and/or anti-dsDNA antibody ≥30 IU) at baseline was retrospectively evaluated using the SRI.
Results
SRI response is defined as: 1) ≥4-point reduction in SELENA-SLEDAI score; 2) no new BILAG A or no more than 1 new BILAG B domain score; and 3) no deterioration from baseline in the Physician’s Global Assessment (PGA) by ≥0.3 points. In serologically active patients, addition of belimumab to SOC resulted in a response in 46% of patients at week 52 compared with 29% for the placebo patients (P=0.006). SRI responses were independent of baseline autoantibody subtype.
Conclusion
Evidence-based evaluation of a large randomized, placebo-controlled trial in SLE resulted in the ability to define a robust responder index based on improvement in disease activity without worsening of the overall condition or the development of significant disease activity in new organ systems.
doi:10.1002/art.24698
PMCID: PMC2748175  PMID: 19714615
13.  A Phase II, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Dose-Ranging Study of Belimumab in Patients With Active Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;61(9):1168-1178.
Objective
To assess the safety, tolerability, biological activity, and efficacy of belimumab in combination with standard of care therapy (SOC) in patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods
Patients with SELENA-SLEDAI score≥4 (N=449) were randomly assigned to belimumab (1, 4, 10 mg/kg) or placebo in a 52-week study. Co-primary endpoints were: 1) percentage change in the SELENA-SLEDAI score at week 24; 2) time to the first SLE flare.
Results
Significant differences between the treatment and placebo groups were not attained for either primary endpoint and no dose response was observed. Reduction in SELENA-SLEDAI score from baseline was 19.5% in the combined belimumab group versus 17.2% in the placebo group. The median time to first SLE flare was 67 days in the combined belimumab group versus 83 days in the placebo group. However, the median time to first SLE flare during weeks 24–52 was significantly longer with belimumab treatment (154 versus 108 days; P=0.0361). In the subgroup (71.5%) of serologically active patients (ANA ≥1:80 and/or anti-dsDNA ≥30 IU/mL), belimumab treatment resulted in significantly better responses at week 52 than placebo for SELENA-SLEDAI (−28.8% versus −14.2%; P=0.0435); PGA (−32.7% versus −10.7%; P=0.0011); and SF-36 PCS (+3.0 versus +1.2 points; P=0.0410). Treatment with belimumab resulted in 63–71% depletion of naive, activated, and plasmacytoid CD20+ B cells and a 29.4% reduction in anti-dsDNA titers (P ≤0.0017) by week 52. The rates of adverse events (AEs) and serious AEs were similar in the belimumab and placebo groups.
Conclusion
Belimumab was biologically active and well tolerated. Belimumab effect on the reduction of SLE disease activity or flares was not significant. However, serologically active SLE patients responded significantly better to belimumab therapy plus SOC than SOC alone.
doi:10.1002/art.24699
PMCID: PMC2758229  PMID: 19714604
14.  Open‐label, pilot protocol of patients with rheumatoid arthritis who switch to infliximab after an incomplete response to etanercept: the opposite study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(7):893-899.
Objective
To incorporate a new trial design to examine clinical response, cytokine expression and joint imaging in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) switching from etanercept to infliximab treatment.
Methods
A randomised, open‐label, clinical trial of 28 patients with an inadequate response to etanercept was conducted. Eligible patients received background methotrexate and were randomised 1:1 to discontinue etanercept and receive infliximab 3 mg/kg at weeks 0, 2, 6, 14 and 22, or to continue etanercept 25 mg twice weekly. Data were analysed for clinical response, serum biomarker levels, radiographic progression, MRI and adverse events.
Results
At week 16, 62% of infliximab‐treated patients achieved American College of Rheumatology 20% criteria for improvement in RA (ACR20) responses compared with 29% of etanercept‐treated patients. A 30.8% decrease from baseline in Disease Activity Score 28 was observed in patients receiving infliximab, compared with a 16.0% decrease in patients receiving etanercept. ACR20 and American College of Rheumatology 50% criteria for improvement in RA responses correlated at least minimally with intracellular adhesion molecule‐1 and interleukin 8 in patients receiving infliximab. 38% of patients who were switched to infliximab showed reductions in Health Assessment Questionnaire scores (>0.4), compared with 0% of patients receiving etanercept. MRI analyses were inconclusive. Both drugs were well tolerated; 54% of infliximab‐treated patients and 50% of etanercept‐treated patients reported adverse events.
Conclusions
In this exploratory, open‐label trial (with single‐blind evaluator), patients were randomised to continue with etanercept or switch to infliximab. The small sample size of this hypothesis‐generating study was underpowered to show statistical differences between groups. There was a numerical trend favouring patients who switched to infliximab, therefore warranting further study with a more rigorous design.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.068304
PMCID: PMC1955098  PMID: 17412737
15.  Sex chromosome Aneuploides among Men with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Journal of Autoimmunity  2011;38(2-3):J129-J134.
About 90% of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are female. We hypothesize that the number of X chromosomes, not sex, is a determinate of risk of SLE. Number of X chromosomes was determined by single nucleotide typing and then confirmed by karyotype or fluorescent in situ hybridization in a large group of men with SLE. Presence of an sry gene was assessed by rtPCR. We calculated 96% confidence intervals using the Adjusted Wald method, and used Bayes’ theorem to estimate the prevalence of SLE among 47,XXY and 46,XX men. Among 316 men with SLE, 7 had 47,XXY and 1 had 46,XX. The rate of Klinefelter’s syndrome (47,XXY) was statistically different from that found in control men and from the known prevalence in the population. The 46,XX man had an sry gene, which encodes the testes determining factor, on an X chromosome as a result of an abnormal crossover during meiosis. In the case of 46,XX, 1 of 316 was statistically different from the known population prevalence of 1 in 20,000 live male births. A previously reported 46,XX man with SLE had a different molecular mechanism in which there were no common gene copy number abnormalities with our patient. Thus, men with SLE are enriched for conditions with additional X chromosomes. Especially since 46,XX men are generally normal males, except for infertility, these data suggest the number of X chromosomes, not phenotypic sex, is responsible for the sex bias of SLE.
doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2011.10.004
PMCID: PMC3309073  PMID: 22154021
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Klinefelter’s syndrome; male 46; XX; female bias; X chromosome
16.  Cost Effectiveness of Different Treatment Strategies in the Treatment of Patients with Moderate to Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis in China 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47373.
Background
To analyse the cost-effectiveness of traditional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (tDMARDs) compared to biological therapies from the perspective of Chinese society.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A mathematical model was developed by incorporating the clinical trial data and Chinese unit costs and treatment sequences from a lifetime perspective. Hypothetical cohorts with moderate to severe RA were simulated. The primary outcome measure–quality-adjusted life years (QALYs)–was derived from disease severity (HAQ scores). Primary analysis included drug costs, monitoring costs, and other costs. Probabilistic and one-way sensitivity analyses were performed. Treatment sequences that included TNF antagonists and rituximab produced a greater number of QALYs than tDMARDs alone or TNF antagonists plus DMARDs. In comparison with tDMARDs, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) for etanercept, infliximab, and adalimumab without rituximab were $77,357.7, $26,562.4 and $57,838.4 per QALY and $66,422.9, $28,780.6 and $50,937.6 per QALY, for etanercept, infliximab, and adalimumab with rituximab. No biotherapy was cost-effective under the willingness to pay threshold when the threshold was 3 times the per capita GDP of China. When 3 times the per capita GDP of Shanghai used as the threshold, infliximab and rituximab could yield nearly 90% cost-effective simulations in probabilistic sensitivity analysis.
Conclusions/Significance
tDMARD was the most cost-effective option in the Chinese healthcare setting. In some relatively developed regions in China, infliximab and rituximab may be a favorable cost-effective alternative for moderate to severe RA.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047373
PMCID: PMC3467255  PMID: 23056637
17.  Neuroimaging evidence of white matter inflammation in newly diagnosed Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(10):3048-3057.
Objective
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) with central nervous system (CNS) involvement is frequent and can have high morbidity. The primary pathophysiology of SLE in the CNS is thought to be inflammation secondary to autoantibody-mediated vasculitis. Neuroimaging studies have reported hypometabolism (impending cell failure) and atrophy (late-stage pathology), but not inflammation. We used a validated index of SLE-related disease activity as a regressor for positron emission tomographic (PET) images of glucose uptake to detect the presence and regional distribution of inflammation (hypermetabolism) and tissue failure, apoptosis or atrophy (hypometabolism).
Methods
Eighty-five newly diagnosed SLE patients without focal neurological symptoms were studied. Disease activity was quantified using the SELENA SLE Disease Activity Index (SS). 18Fluoro-deoxy-glucose (FDG) PET images were analyzed by visual inspection and as group statistical parametric images using the SS score as the analysis regressor.
Results
SS-correlated increases in glucose uptake were found throughout the white matter, most marked in heavily myelinated tracts. SS-correlated decreases were found in frontal and parietal cortex, in a pattern similar to that seen by visual inspection and in prior reports of hypometabolism.
Conclusion
We interpret the SS-correlated increases in glucose consumption as potential evidence of inflammation, in keeping with prior reports of hypermetabolism in inflammatory disorders. To our knowledge, this is the first imaging evidence of SLE-induced CNS inflammation in an SLE inception cohort. The dissociation between 18FDG uptake characteristics, spatial distribution, and correlation with disease activity argues that glucose hyper- and hypometabolism reflect fundamentally different aspects of the pathophysiology of CNS SLE.
doi:10.1002/art.30458
PMCID: PMC3167945  PMID: 21618460
systemic lupus erythematosus; positron emission tomography; glucose metabolism; SLEDAI; inflammation
18.  Multiple Autoantibodies Display Association with Lymphopenia, Proteinuria, and Cellular Casts in a Large, Ethnically Diverse SLE Patient Cohort 
Autoimmune Diseases  2012;2012:819634.
Purpose. This study evaluates high-throughput autoantibody screening and determines associated systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) clinical features in a large lupus cohort. Methods. Clinical and demographic information, along with serum samples, were obtained from each SLE study participant after appropriate informed consent. Serum samples were screened for 10 distinct SLE autoantibody specificities and examined for association with SLE ACR criteria and subcriteria using conditional logistic regression analysis. Results. In European-American SLE patients, autoantibodies against 52 kD Ro and RNP 68 are independently enriched in patients with lymphopenia, anti-La, and anti-ribosomal P are increased in patients with malar rash, and anti-dsDNA and anti-Sm are enriched in patients with proteinuria. In African-American SLE patients, cellular casts associate with autoantibodies against dsDNA, Sm, and Sm/nRNP. Conclusion. Using a high-throughput, bead-based method of autoantibody detection, anti-dsDNA is significantly enriched in patienets with SLE ACR renal criteria as has been previously described. However, lymphopenia is associated with several distinct autoantibody specificities. These findings offer meaningful information to allow clinicians and clinical investigators to understand which autoantibodies correlate with select SLE clinical manifestations across common racial groups using this novel methodology which is expanding in clinical use.
doi:10.1155/2012/819634
PMCID: PMC3439936  PMID: 22988489
19.  New insights into the role and mechanism of macrophage migration inhibitory factor in steroid-resistant patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R103.
Introduction
Glucocorticoid (GC) therapy remains important in improving the prognosis of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, some patients do not achieve an effective response with GC treatment, creating an obstacle to the remission of SLE. Identification of the underlying mechanisms responsible for steroid resistance can be significant. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) arouses our interest because of its reciprocal relationship with GCs. In the present study, we investigated for the first time whether MIF correlated with steroid resistance in SLE and explored potential mechanisms of action.
Methods
Sixty-two patients with SLE (40 steroid sensitive and 22 steroid resistant) and 21 normal controls were recruited. Serum levels of MIF were measured by ELISA. Cytosolic MIF and IκB expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were determined by western blotting. The electrophoretic mobility shift assay was assessed by NF-κB in nuclear aliquots. Gene silencing was applied to reduce expression of MIF in PBMCs in steroid-resistant patients. PBMCs obtained from steroid-sensitive patients were treated with recombinant human MIF of different concentrations.
Results
MIF levels in serum and PBMCs were higher in steroid-resistant patients compared with steroid-sensitive patients and controls. In contrast to the steroid-sensitive group, NF-κB levels were significantly higher and IκB levels lower in steroid-resistant patients. After MIF gene silencing, IκB levels in cells from steroid-resistant patients were increased. In steroid-sensitive patients, a decrease in IκB levels and an increase in NF-κB expression from baseline were detected in PBMCs treated with a higher concentration of recombinant human MIF. Treatment with recombinant human MIF did not regulate expression of IκB and NF-κB in PBMCs from patients treated with an anti-MIF monoclonal antibody.
Conclusions
Our results indicated that MIF may play a role in the formation of steroid resistance in SLE by affecting the NF-κB/IκB signaling cascade. As a regulator of glucocorticoid sensitivity, MIF may be a potential target for steroid sparing.
doi:10.1186/ar3828
PMCID: PMC3446480  PMID: 22551315
20.  The Lupus Family Registry and Repository 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2010;50(1):47-59.
The Lupus Family Registry and Repository (LFRR) was established with the goal of assembling and distributing materials and data from families with one or more living members diagnosed with SLE, in order to address SLE genetics. In the present article, we describe the problems and solutions of the registry design and biometric data gathering; the protocols implemented to guarantee data quality and protection of participant privacy and consent; and the establishment of a local and international network of collaborators. At the same time, we illustrate how the LFRR has enabled progress in lupus genetics research, answering old scientific questions while laying out new challenges in the elucidation of the biologic mechanisms that underlie disease pathogenesis. Trained staff ascertain SLE cases, unaffected family members and population-based controls, proceeding in compliance with the relevant laws and standards; participant consent and privacy are central to the LFRR’s effort. Data, DNA, serum, plasma, peripheral blood and transformed B-cell lines are collected and stored, and subject to strict quality control and safety measures. Coded data and materials derived from the registry are available for approved scientific users. The LFRR has contributed to the discovery of most of the 37 genetic associations now known to contribute to lupus through 104 publications. The LFRR contains 2618 lupus cases from 1954 pedigrees that are being studied by 76 approved users and their collaborators. The registry includes difficult to obtain populations, such as multiplex pedigrees, minority patients and affected males, and constitutes the largest collection of lupus pedigrees in the world. The LFRR is a useful resource for the discovery and characterization of genetic associations in SLE.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keq302
PMCID: PMC3307518  PMID: 20864496
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Registry; Repository; Autoimmune diseases; Genetics; Heritability; Genome-wide association studies; Linkage analysis; Minorities; Women
22.  Low Physical Activity is Associated with Proinflammatory High Density Lipoprotein and Increased Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis care & research  2010;62(2):258-265.
Objective
To investigate the association between physical activity, functional activity of HDL, and subclinical cardiovascular disease in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
Methods
242 SLE patients (all women) participated in this cross-sectional study from February 2004 to February 2008. Carotid plaque and intima-media thickness (IMT), antioxidant function of HDL, and traditional cardiac risk factors were measured. Physical activity was assessed from self-reports by calculating the metabolic equivalent-minutes (METs) per week and by the physical function domain of the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36). Data were analyzed using bivariate and multivariate regression analyses.
Results
Number of METs per week spent performing strenuous exercise was negatively correlated with IMT (r = −.30, P = 0.002) and number of plaques (r = −.30, P = 0.0001). Physical function as assessed by the SF-36 was also negatively correlated with IMT (r = .14, P = 0.03) and number of plaques (r = −.14, P = 0.04). In multivariate analyses, number of strenuous exercise METs was significantly associated with IMT (t = −2.2, P = 0.028) and number of plaques (t = −2.5, P = 0.014) when controlling for markers of SLE disease activity and damage, but not after controlling for traditional cardiac risk factors. Low physical activity, defined as < 225 total METs per week, was associated with presence of piHDL (P = 0.03).
Conclusion
Low physical activity is associated with increased subclinical atherosclerosis and with piHDL in patients with SLE. Increased strenuous exercise may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis in SLE.
doi:10.1002/acr.20076
PMCID: PMC2853476  PMID: 20191526
23.  Advances in drug therapy for systemic lupus erythematosus 
BMC Medicine  2010;8:77.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disorder that afflicts 500,000 people in the United States. There has not been a new SLE drug approved in the United States since 1958. However, a guidance document issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005 provided a roadmap for investigators which spawned numerous ongoing clinical trials. Among these, Belimumab, a monoclonal antibody to soluble B lymphocyte stimulator, met its primary endpoints in two large trials and will probably obtain FDA approval soon. Other promising agents targeting a variety of mechanisms of action are currently in development. This minireview highlights the latest therapies under investigation in SLE and gives an overview of the pathways that are specifically being targeted.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-77
PMCID: PMC3009611  PMID: 21114845
24.  Efficacy and safety of epratuzumab in patients with moderate/severe active systemic lupus erythematosus: results from EMBLEM, a phase IIb, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(1):183-190.
Objective
To identify a suitable dosing regimen of the CD22-targeted monoclonal antibody epratuzumab in adults with moderately to severely active systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods
A phase IIb, multicentre, randomised controlled study (NCT00624351) was conducted with 227 patients (37–39 per arm) receiving either: placebo, epratuzumab 200 mg cumulative dose (cd) (100 mg every other week (EOW)), 800 mg cd (400 mg EOW), 2400 mg cd (600 mg weekly), 2400 mg cd (1200 mg EOW), or 3600 mg cd (1800 mg EOW). The primary endpoint (not powered for significance) was the week 12 responder rate measured using a novel composite endpoint, the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG)-based Combined Lupus Assessment (BICLA).
Results
Proportion of responders was higher in all epratuzumab groups than with placebo (overall treatment effect test p=0.148). Exploratory pairwise analysis demonstrated clinical improvement in patients receiving a cd of 2400 mg epratuzumab (OR for 600 mg weekly vs placebo: 3.2 (95% CI 1.1 to 8.8), nominal p=0.03; OR for 1200 mg EOW vs placebo: 2.6 (0.9 to 7.1), nominal p=0.07). Post-hoc comparison of all 2400 mg cd patients versus placebo found an overall treatment effect (OR=2.9 (1.2 to 7.1), nominal p=0.02). Incidence of adverse events (AEs), serious AEs and infusion reactions was similar between epratuzumab and placebo groups, without decreases in immunoglobulin levels and only partial reduction in B-cell levels.
Conclusions
Treatment with epratuzumab 2400 mg cd was well tolerated in patients with moderately to severely active SLE, and associated with improvements in disease activity. Phase III studies are ongoing.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202760
PMCID: PMC3888603  PMID: 23313811
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Treatment; B cells
25.  Dysfunctional Pro-Inflammatory High Density Lipoproteins Confer Increased Risk for Atherosclerosis in Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(8):2428-2437.
Objective
Women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have increased atherosclerosis. Identification of at-risk patients and the etiology underlying atherosclerosis in SLE remains elusive. Normal HDL lose antioxidant capacity during inflammation, and these dysfunctional HDL might predispose to atherosclerosis. The aim of this study is to determine whether dysfunctional pro-inflammatory HDL (piHDL) is associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in SLE.
Methods
276 SLE women had carotid artery ultrasound to identify plaques and measure intima-media thickness (IMT). Antioxidant function of HDL was measured as change in oxidation of LDL after addition of subject HDL. Two anti-inflammatory HDL components, paraoxonase and apolipoprotein A-1, were also measured.
Results
48.2% of patients had piHDL. 86.7% of subjects with plaque had piHDL, versus 40.7% without (p<0.001). Patients with piHDL also had higher IMT (p<0.001). After multivariate analysis, the only significant factors associated with plaque were piHDL, (OR 16.1, p<0.001), age (OR 1.2, p<0.001), hypertension (OR 3.0, p=0.04), dyslipidemia (OR 3.4, p=0.04), and mixed racial background (OR 8.3, p=0.04). Factors associated with IMT measurements in the highest quartile were piHDL (OR 2.5, p=0.02), age (OR 1.1, p<0.001), body mass index (OR 1.07, p=0.04), lifetime prednisone dose > 20g (OR 2.8, p=0.04), and African American race (OR 8.3, p=0.001).
Conclusions
Dysfunctional piHDL greatly increases risk for subclinical atherosclerosis in SLE; they associate with increased prevalence of carotid plaque and with high IMT. The presence of piHDL may help identify patients at risk for atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1002/art.24677
PMCID: PMC2753974  PMID: 19644959

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