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1.  Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients 
Behavioral sleep medicine  2013;12(1):1-12.
The purpose of this research was to evaluate the factor structure of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The sample included 107 patients with RA, 88 females and seven males, with an average age of 56.09 years, recruited from the greater Southern California area. Confirmatory factor analysis evaluated single, two- and three-factor models. The single factor solution yielded a poor fit to the data. While the three-factor solution had the best fit, the two-factor solution, comprised of sleep efficiency and perceived sleep quality factors, was optimal because it had very good fit, and acceptable reliability for its individual factors. Clinical indices were consistently correlated with the sleep quality factor, but not with the sleep efficiency factor.
PMCID: PMC4285368  PMID: 23390921
sleep quality; rheumatoid arthritis; confirmatory factor analysis; PSQI
2.  Relationship between air pollution and positivity of RA-related autoantibodies in individuals without established RA: a report on SERA 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;72(12):10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202949.
Studies suggest that respiratory exposures including smoking, proximity to traffic and air pollution might be associated with development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA-related autoantibodies are predictive of the development of RA.
We evaluated the relationship between RA-related autoantibodies and exposure to particulate matter (PM), a measure of air pollution of interest to health, in individuals without RA.
The Studies of the Etiology of Rheumatoid Arthritis (SERA) is a multicentre study following first-degree relatives (FDRs) of a proband with RA. FDRs are without the 1987 ACR (American College of Rheumatology) classifiable RA at enrolment and are followed for the development of RA-related autoimmunity. RA-related autoantibody outcomes as well as tender and swollen joint outcomes were assessed. Exposure to PM was assigned using ambient air pollution monitoring data and interpolated with inverse distance weighting spatial analyses using Geographic Information Systems. PM exposures were linked to FDR’s residential zip codes.
RA-related autoantibodies as well as tender or swollen joints are not associated with ambient PM concentrations.
While other respiratory exposures may be associated with increased risk of RA, our data suggest that ambient PM is not associated with autoantibodies and joint signs among individuals without RA, but at increased risk of developing RA.
PMCID: PMC3818364  PMID: 23572338
4.  Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide Assays Differ in Subjects at Elevated Risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Subjects with Established Disease 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(9):2243-2252.
To compare commonly-available tests for antibodies to citrullinated protein antigens (ACPAs) for diagnostic accuracy and assay agreement in established rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and subjects at elevated risk for RA.
ELISA testing for anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies was performed using CCP2 (Axis-Shield) and CCP3.1 (IgA/IgG INOVA) in the following subjects: 1) probands with established RA (N=340) from the Studies of the Etiology of RA (SERA), 2) first degree relatives (FDRs) without RA (family members of SERA RA probands; N=681), 3) Department of Defense Serum Repository (DoDSR) RA cases with pre-diagnosis samples (N=83; 47/83 also had post-diagnosis samples), and 4) blood-donor and DoDSR controls (N=283).
In established RA, CCP2 was more specific (99.2% vs. 93.1%, p<0.01), but less sensitive (58.7% vs. 67.4%, p=0.01) than CCP3.1, with specificity of CCP3.1 increasing to 97.2% if levels ≥3 times the standard cut-off level were considered. In all subjects, at standard cut-off levels, CCP3.1 positivity was more prevalent. In DoDSR cases, CCP2 was more specific than CCP3.1 for a future diagnosis of RA, and higher CCP levels trended towards greater specificity for disease onset within 2 years. At standard cut-off levels, assay agreement was good in established RA (kappa=0.76), but poor in FDRs without inflammatory arthritis (kappa=0.25).
Anti-CCP assays differ to an extent that may be meaningful in diagnosing RA in patients with inflammatory arthritis, and in evaluating the natural history of RA development in subjects at-risk for future RA. Mechanisms underlying these differences in test performance need further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3776020  PMID: 23686569
Rheumatoid arthritis; autoantibodies; CCP; ACPA; preclinical
5.  The Epidemiology of Back Pain, Axial Spondyloarthritis and HLA-B27 in the United States 
The concept of inflammatory back pain (IBP) evolved in the 1970s, coincident with the discovery of the HLA-B27 association with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), leading to the development of criteria to determine the presence of IBP. The concept of IBP and it relationship with AS and axial spondyloarthritis (AxSpA) has further evolved, and an instrument developed (the Spondylitis Association of America Back Pain Tool), which was further modified and field tested for use in the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This has shown the frequency of chronic back pain to have risen to 19.4%, with nearly one-third having IBP. The prevalence of AxSpA has been defined at 1.0-1.4% and AS at 0.52-0.55%. The national prevalence of HLA-B27 in the U.S. is 6.1%, and intriguing data from NHANES 2009 suggest a decreasing frequency with increasing age. From this arise new questions and a work agenda ahead.
PMCID: PMC4122314  PMID: 23841117
Epidemiology; Spondyloarthritis; HLA-B27; Back Pain; Ankylosing Spondylitis
6.  Relatives Without Rheumatoid Arthritis Show Reactivity to Anti-Citrullinated Protein/Peptide Antibodies Which are Associated with Arthritis-Related Traits: Studies of the Etiology of Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(8):1995-2004.
Examine anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPA) reactivity and determine associations between ACPA and other rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-related autoantibodies and clinically-assessed swollen or tender joints in first-degree relatives (FDRs) without 1987 and 2010 American College of Rheumatology classified RA.
A bead-based assay measured 16 separate ACPA in sera from 111 FDRs (Ab+) who were positive on at least one visit for any of 5 RA-related autoantibodies (RF, anti-CCP2, and RF isotypes), and 99 FDRs (Ab−) who were never autoantibody positive. Cut-offs for positivity for each ACPA were determined using receiver operating characteristic curves of data from 200 RA cases and 98 blood-bank controls, wherein positivity for ≥ 9 ACPA had 92% specificity and 62% sensitivity for RA. In FDRs, we assessed ACPA reactivity and examined associations between ACPA (number positive and positivity for ≥ 9 ACPA) and RA-related characteristics.
Four of 7 anti-CCP2 positive and 8% of anti-CCP2 negative FDRs were positive for ≥ 9 ACPA. After adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity and pack-years of smoking, increasing number of ACPA was directly associated with having ≥ 1 tender joint on exam (OR=1.18, 95% CI 1.04–1.34), with the greatest risk seen in FDRs positive for ≥ 9 ACPA (OR=5.00, 95% CI 1.37–18.18).
RA-free FDRs demonstrate reactivity to multiple ACPA, even in those negative for rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP2, and increasing ACPA may be associated with signs of joint inflammation. Prospective evaluation of the relationship between these findings and progression of classifiable RA is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3729718  PMID: 23754702
pre-clinical RA; autoantibodies; ACPA; rheumatoid arthritis
7.  A Panel of Biomarkers Is Associated With Increased Risk of the Presence and Progression of Atherosclerosis in Women With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
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.
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).
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC4106468  PMID: 24449580
8.  Sputum Autoantibodies in Patients With Established Rheumatoid Arthritis and Subjects at Risk of Future Clinically Apparent Disease 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(10):2545-2554.
To evaluate the generation of rheumatoid arthritis (RA)–related autoantibodies in the lung.
Simultaneous collection of serum and induced sputum was performed in 21 healthy controls, 49 at-risk subjects without inflammatory arthritis but at risk of RA due to family history or seropositivity for anti–citrullinated protein antibodies, and 14 subjects with early RA. Samples were tested for anti–cyclic citrullinated peptide 2 (anti-CCP2), anti-CCP3, anti-CCP3.1, rheumatoid factor isotypes IgM, IgG, and IgA, and total IgM, IgG, and IgA.
One or more autoantibodies were present in sputum of 39% of at-risk seronegative subjects, 65% of at-risk seropositive subjects, and 86% of subjects with early RA. In at-risk seronegative subjects, the rate of anti-CCP3.1 positivity and the median number of autoantibodies were elevated in sputum versus serum. In subjects with early RA, the rate of positivity for several individual autoantibodies and the median number of autoantibodies were higher in serum than in sputum. Results in at-risk seropositive subjects were intermediate between these groups. In at-risk subjects with autoantibody positivity in sputum, the ratios of autoantibody to total Ig were higher in sputum than in serum, suggesting that these autoantibodies are generated or sequestered in the lung.
RA-related autoantibodies are detectable in sputum in subjects at risk of RA and in subjects with early RA. In a subset of at-risk subjects, the presence of sputum autoantibodies in the absence of seropositivity, and the increased autoantibody-to–total Ig ratios in sputum, suggest that the lung may be a site of autoantibody generation in the early development of RA. These findings suggest an important role of the lung in the pathogenesis of RA.
PMCID: PMC4066465  PMID: 23817979
9.  Multiple cytokines and chemokines are associated with rheumatoid arthritis-related autoimmunity in first-degree relatives without rheumatoid arthritis: Studies of the Aetiology of Rheumatoid Arthritis (SERA) 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;72(6):901-907.
We investigated whether rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-related autoantibodies were associated with systemic inflammation in a prospective cohort of first-degree relatives (FDRs) of RA probands, a population without RA but at increased risk for its future development.
We studied 44 autoantibody positive FDRs, of whom 29 were rheumatoid factor (RF) positive, 25 were positive for the high risk autoantibody profile (HRP), that is, positive for anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide and/or for at least two RF IgM, IgG or IgA isotypes, and nine FDRs who were positive for both; and 62 FDRs who were never autoantibody positive. Twenty-five cytokines/chemokines were measured using a bead-based assay in serum. As a comprehensive measure of inflammation, we calculated a Cytokine Score by summing all cytokine/chemokine levels, weighted by their regression coefficients for RA-autoantibody association. We compared C-reactive protein, individual cytokines/chemokines and Cytokine Score to the outcomes: positivity for RF and for the HRP using logistic regression.
Adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity and ever smoking, the Cytokine Score and levels of IL-6 and IL-9 were associated with both RF and HRP. IL-2, granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and interferon (IFN)-γ were associated with HRP only. Associations between the Cytokine Score and RF and HRP positivity were replicated in an independent military personnel cohort.
In first-degree relatives of patients with RA, RA-related autoimmunity is associated with inflammation, as evidenced by associations with multiple cytokines and chemokines.
PMCID: PMC3726193  PMID: 22915618
10.  The Prevalence of HLA–B27 in the US: Data From the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(5):1407-1411.
To carry out the first large-scale population study of the prevalence of HLA–B27 in the US, which is needed for public health planning purposes because of recent improvements in medical therapy and diagnostic testing for ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
The national prevalence of HLA–B27 was determined as part of the 2009 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a cross-sectional survey monitoring the health and nutritional status of the US civilian, noninstitutionalized population. DNA polymerase chain reaction analysis was conducted in samples from 2,320 adults ages 20–69 years from this nationally representative sample.
The age-adjusted US prevalence of B27 was 6.1% (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 4.6–8.2). By race/ethnicity, the prevalence of B27 was 7.5% (95% CI 5.3–10.4) among non-Hispanic whites and 3.5% (95% CI 2.5–4.8) among all other US races/ethnicities combined. In Mexican Americans, the prevalence was 4.6% (95% CI 3.4–6.1). The prevalence of B27 could not be reliably estimated for other US racial/ethnic groups because of the low number of B27-positive individuals in those groups. For adults 50–69 years of age, the prevalence of B27 was 3.6% (95% CI 2.2–5.8), which suggested a decrease in B27 with age. These prevalence estimates took into account the NHANES survey design and are reviewed with respect to data from the medical literature.
Our findings provide the first US national prevalence estimates for HLA–B27. A decline in the prevalence of HLA–B27 with age is suggested by these data but must be confirmed by additional studies.
PMCID: PMC4038331  PMID: 22139851
11.  Prevalence of Axial Spondylarthritis in the United States: Estimates From a Cross-Sectional Survey 
Arthritis care & research  2012;64(6):905-910.
The US national prevalence of spondylarthritis (SpA) was estimated for 2 published sets of classification criteria: the Amor criteria and the European Spondylarthropathy Study Group (ESSG) criteria. These 2 SpA criteria sets have been the most widely utilized in previous population-based studies of SpA.
The US SpA prevalence estimates were based on a representative sample of 5,013 US adults ages 20 – 69 years who were examined in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009–2010.
The overall age-adjusted prevalence of definite and probable SpA by the Amor criteria was 0.9% (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.7–1.1%), corresponding to an estimated 1.7 million persons (95% CI 1.4–2.1 million persons). The age-adjusted prevalence of SpA by the ESSG criteria was 1.4% (95% CI 1.0–1.9%), corresponding to an estimated 2.7 million persons (95% CI 1.9–3.7 million persons). There were no statistically significant sex differences in SpA prevalence. The SpA prevalence among non-Hispanic white persons was 1.0% (95% CI 0.7–1.5%) by the Amor criteria and 1.5% (95% CI 1.0–2.3%) by the ESSG criteria. SpA prevalence could not be reliably estimated in other race/ethnicity subgroups due to sample size imitations.
The SpA prevalence estimates are in the range of SpA prevalence estimates reported elsewhere in population-based surveys and it is likely that SpA may affect up to 1% of US adults, a prevalence similar to that reported for rheumatoid arthritis. The current US SpA prevalence estimates may be lower than the true value because the NHANES 2009–2010 data collection did not capture a complete set of the elements specified in the 2 SpA criteria sets.
PMCID: PMC4032290  PMID: 22275150
12.  The Effect of Rilonacept versus Placebo on Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients with Poorly Controlled Familial Mediterranean Fever 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:854842.
Objective. To examine the effect of rilonacept on the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with poorly controlled familial Mediterranean fever (FMF). Methods. As part of a randomized, double-blinded trial comparing rilonacept and placebo for the treatment of FMF, patients/parents completed the modified Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ) at baseline, and at the start and end of each of 4 treatment courses, 2 each with rilonacept and placebo. Results. Fourteen subjects were randomized; mean age was 24.4 ± 11.8 years. At baseline the physical HRQoL score was significantly less (24.2 ± 49.5) but the psychosocial score was similar to the population norm (49.5 ± 10.0). There were significant improvements in most HRQoL concepts after rilonacept but not placebo. Significant differences between rilonacept and placebo were found in the physical (33.7 ± 16.4 versus 23.7 ± 14.5, P = 0.021) but not psychosocial scores (51.4 ± 10.3 versus 49.8 ± 12.4, P = 0.42). The physical HRQoL was significantly impacted by the treatment effect and patient global assessment. Conclusion. Treatment with rilonacept had a beneficial effect on the physical HRQoL in patients with poorly controlled FMF and was also significantly related to the patient global assessment. This trial is registered with Identifier NCT00582907.
PMCID: PMC4131422  PMID: 25147819
13.  The Impact of TNF-inhibitors on radiographic progression in Ankylosing Spondylitis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(10):2645-2654.
We studied the effect of Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF)-inhibitors on progressive spine damage in Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) patients.
All AS patients (satisfying the modified New York criteria) prospectively followed and with at least two sets of spinal radiographs at a minimum gap of 1.5 years were included (n=334). Patients received clinical standard of care, which included non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and TNF-inhibitors. Radiographic severity was assessed by the modified Stokes Ankylosing Spondylitis Spine Score (mSASSS). Patients with a rate of progression more than 1 mSASSS unit/year were considered progressors. Univariable and multivariable regression analyses were done. Propensity score matching (PSM) and sensitivity analysis were performed. A zero-inflated negative binomial (ZINB) model was used to analyze the effect of TNF-inhibitor on change in mSASSS with varying follow-up periods. Potential confounders like Bath AS Disease Activity Index (BASDAI), ESR, CRP, HLA-B27, gender, age of onset, smoking and baseline damage were included in the model.
TNF-inhibitor treatment was associated with a 50% reduction in the odds of progression (OR: 0.52; CI: 0.30-0.88; p=0.02). Patients with a delay in starting therapy of more than 10 years were more likely to progress compared to those who started earlier (OR=2.4; 95% CI: 1.09-5.3; p=0.03). In the ZINB model TNF-inhibitor use significantly reduced progression when the gap between x-rays was more than 3.9 years. The protective effect of TNF-inhibitors was stronger after propensity score matching.
TNF-inhibitors appear to reduce radiographic progression in AS, especially with early initiation and longer duration of follow up.
PMCID: PMC3974160  PMID: 23818109
Arthritis care & research  2013;65(4):607-614.
Functional limitations in ankylosing spondylitis (AS) may be due to peripheral joint or axial involvement. To determine if the Bath AS Functional Index (BASFI), an axial-focused measure, can detect limitations related to peripheral joint involvement equally well as the Health Assessment Questionnaire modified for the Spondyloarthropathies (HAQ-S), a peripheral arthritis-focused measure, and vice versa, we compared associations of each questionnaire with spinal and hip range of motion, peripheral arthritis, and enthesitis in patients with AS.
We examined patients every 4 to 6 months in this prospective longitudinal study. We used mixed linear models to examine associations between ten physical examination measures and the BASFI and HAQ-S.
We studied 411 patients for a median of 1.5 years (3 visits). In multivariate analyses, cervical rotation, chest expansion, lateral thoracolumbar flexion, hip motion, tender joint count, and tender enthesis count were equally strongly associated with the BASFI and HAQ-S. Peripheral joint swelling was more strongly associated with the HAQ-S. Individual items of the BASFI were more likely than items of the HAQ-S to be associated with unrelated physical exam measures (e.g. association between difficulty rising from a chair and cervical rotation), which may have diminished the axial/peripheral distinction for the BASFI.
The BASFI and HAQ-S had similar associations with impairments in axial measures, while the HAQ-S had stronger associations with the number of swollen peripheral joints. The HAQ-S should be considered for use in studies focused on spondyloarthritis with peripheral joint involvement.
PMCID: PMC3567248  PMID: 23097327
Ankylosing spondylitis; functional limitations; metrology
15.  The prevalence of inflammatory back pain: population-based estimates from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–10 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;72(3):369-373.
To estimate the current US inflammatory back pain (IBP) prevalence using four published case definitions.
Analysis of an IBP data collection instrument specifically designed for the 2009–10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Subjects were 5103 US adults ages 20–69 with complete data. IBP prevalence as determined by Calin et al criteria, European Spondylarthropathy Study Group (ESSG) criteria, and Berlin criteria 8a and 7b.
Age-adjusted US prevalence of IBP by Calin criteria was 5.0% (95% CI 4.2% to 5.8%). Prevalence of IBP was 5.6% (95% CI 4.7% to 6.5%) by ESSG criteria, and 5.8% (95% CI 5.2% to 6.4%) and 6.0% (95% CI 4.9% to 7.1%) by Berlin Criteria 8a and 7b, respectively. IBP prevalence did not differ significantly by age groups or between men and women. IBP prevalence was significantly lower among non-Hispanic black persons compared with non-Hispanic white persons for the Calin and ESSG IBP criteria. For the ESSG and Berlin 7b criteria, non-Hispanic white persons had significantly higher IBP prevalences compared with Mexican Americans.
IBP is associated with spondyloarthritis. Awareness of the prevalence of IBP may be useful for planning future epidemiological studies as well as development and validation of diagnostic and classification criteria for specific clinically defined diseases.
PMCID: PMC3954785  PMID: 22791746
Arthritis care & research  2013;65(2):257-265.
Radiographic damage and functional limitations both increase with the duration of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). We examined whether radiographic damage contributed more to functional limitations in late AS than in early AS, and if the strength of association varied with the anatomic region of damage.
In this cross-sectional study of 801 patients with AS, we examined associations of the lumbar modified Stoke AS Spine Score (mSASSS), cervical mSASSS, lumbar posterior fusion, cervical posterior fusion, and hip arthritis with the Bath AS Functional Index (BASFI) and the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ-S).
Higher lumbar and cervical mSASSS were associated with more functional limitations, but there was an interaction between mSASSS and the duration of AS such that the strength of their association with functional limitations decreased with increasing duration of AS. Cervical posterior fusion was associated with worse functioning independent of mSASSS. Hip arthritis was significantly associated with functional limitations independent of measures of spinal damage. Among patients with AS ≥ 40 years, the number of comorbid conditions accounted for most of the variation in functioning. Results were similar for both the BASFI and HAQ-S.
Although both radiographic damage and functional limitations increase over time in AS, the relative contribution of radiographic damage to functional limitations is lower among patients with longstanding AS than early AS, suggesting patients may accommodate to limited flexibility. Damage in different skeletal regions impacts functioning over the duration of AS. Functional limitations due to comorbidity supervene in late AS.
PMCID: PMC3541454  PMID: 23042639
Ankylosing spondylitis; radiographic damage; functional limitations
17.  Porphyromonas gingivalis and Disease-Related Autoantibodies in Individuals at Increased Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):10.1002/art.34595.
To examine the relationship of Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) with the presence of autoantibodies in individuals at risk for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Participants included: 1) a cohort enriched with HLA-DR4 and 2) those at risk for RA by virtue of having a first-degree relative with RA. None satisfied 1987 ACR RA classification criteria. Autoantibodies measured included anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA) and rheumatoid factor (RF; nephelometry, IgA, IgM, IgG). Individuals were considered autoantibody positive (n = 113) with ≥ 1 positive autoantibody with individuals further categorized as `high-risk' (n = 38; positive ACPA or ≥ 2 RF assays). Autoantibody negative individuals served as comparators (n = 171). Antibody to Pg, P. intermedia (Pi), and F. nucleatum (Fn) were measured. Associations of bacterial antibodies with group status were examined using logistic regression.
Anti-Pg concentrations were higher in high-risk (p = 0.011) and autoantibody positive group (p = 0.010) than in the autoantibody negative group. There were no group differences in anti-Pi or anti-Fn concentrations. After multivariable adjustment, anti-Pg concentrations (but not anti-Pi or anti-Fn) were significantly associated with autoantibody positive and high-risk status (p < 0.05).
Immunity to Pg, but not Pi or Fn, is significantly associated with the presence of RA-related autoantibodies in individuals at risk for RA. These results support the hypothesis that infection with Pg may play a central role in the early loss of tolerance to self-antigens in RA pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3467347  PMID: 22736291
rheumatoid arthritis; periodontitis; Porphyromonas gingivalis; Prevotella intermedia; Fusobacterium nucleatum; rheumatoid factor; anti-citrullinated protein antibody
18.  Elevated serum anti-flagellin antibodies implicate subclinical bowel inflammation in ankylosing spondylitis: an observational study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R166.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) share genetic and clinical features. IBD is associated with the presence of antibodies to a variety of commensal microorganisms including anti-Saccharomyces cerevesiae antibodies (ASCA), antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA), anti-I2 (associated with anti-Pseudomonas activity), anti-Eschericia coli outer membrane porin C (anti-OmpC) and anti-flagellin antibodies (anti-CBir1). Subclinical intestinal inflammation may be present in up to 65% of patients with AS. This study evaluated the presence of antimicrobial antibodies in patients with AS alone, patients with AS and concomitant IBD (AS-IBD) and a control group of patients with mechanical back pain (MBP).
Sera were tested by ELISA for ASCA IgG and IgA, anti-OmpC, anti-CBir1 and ANCA in 76 patients with AS alone, 77 patients with AS-IBD and 48 patients with MBP. Antibody positivity rates, median quantitative antibody levels and the proportion of patients with antibody levels in the 4th quartile of a normal distribution were compared between the three groups of patients.
Patients with AS alone demonstrated higher anti-CBir1 antibody positivity rates and median antibody levels than MBP patients. Anti-CBir1 positivity in AS was associated with elevation of acute phase reactants. AS-IBD patients demonstrated elevated responses when compared to AS alone for ASCA, anti-OmpC and anti-CBir1. Quartile analysis confirmed the findings.
These data suggest that adaptive immune responses to microbial antigens occur in AS patients without clinical IBD and support the theory of mucosal dysregulation as a mechanism underlying the pathophysiology of AS.
PMCID: PMC3978579  PMID: 24286190
The Journal of rheumatology  2012;39(9):1900.
PMCID: PMC3461321  PMID: 22942307
Spondyloarthritis; squaring; vertebrae
20.  Identification of multiple risk variants for ankylosing spondylitis through high-density genotyping of immune-related loci 
Nature genetics  2013;45(7):730-738.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a common, highly heritable inflammatory arthritis affecting primarily the spine and pelvis. In addition to HLA-B*27 alleles, 12 loci have previously been identified that are associated with ankylosing spondylitis in populations of European ancestry, and 2 associated loci have been identified in Asians. In this study, we used the Illumina Immunochip microarray to perform a case-control association study involving 10,619 individuals with ankylosing spondylitis (cases) and 15,145 controls. We identified 13 new risk loci and 12 additional ankylosing spondylitis–associated haplotypes at 11 loci. Two ankylosing spondylitis–associated regions have now been identified encoding four aminopeptidases that are involved in peptide processing before major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I presentation. Protective variants at two of these loci are associated both with reduced aminopeptidase function and with MHC class I cell surface expression.
PMCID: PMC3757343  PMID: 23749187
21.  A Multidimensional Model of Fatigue in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
The Journal of rheumatology  2012;39(9):1807-1813.
To evaluate a multidimensional model testing disease activity, mood disturbance, and poor sleep quality as determinants of fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The data of 106 participants were drawn from baseline of a randomized comparative efficacy trial of psychosocial interventions for RA. Sets of reliable and valid measures were used to represent model constructs. Structural equation modeling was used to test the direct effects of disease activity, mood disturbance, and poor sleep quality on fatigue, as well as the indirect effects of disease activity as mediated by mood disturbance and poor sleep quality.
The final model fit the data well, and the specified predictors explained 62% of the variance in fatigue. Higher levels of disease activity, mood disturbance, and poor sleep quality had direct effects on fatigue. Further, disease activity was indirectly related to fatigue through its effects on mood disturbance, which, in turn, was related to poor sleep quality. Mood disturbance also indirectly influenced fatigue through poor sleep quality.
The findings from this study confirmed the importance of a multidimensional framework in evaluating the contribution of disease activity, mood disturbance, and sleep quality to fatigue in RA using a structural equation approach. Mood disturbance and poor sleep quality played major roles in explaining fatigue along with patient-reported disease activity.
PMCID: PMC3735362  PMID: 22660801
Rheumatoid arthritis; Fatigue; Mood; Sleep disorders; Psychological factors
22.  Derivation and Validation of Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Classification Criteria for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(8):2677-2686.
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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3409311  PMID: 22553077
23.  Inflammatory Back Pain 
PMCID: PMC3501982  PMID: 23083751
24.  A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Recombinant Human Relaxin in the Treatment of Systemic Sclerosis with Diffuse Scleroderma 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(4):1102-1111.
A phase II randomized controlled trial of recombinant human relaxin suggested that 25 ug/kg/day was safe and clinically effective in improving skin disease and functional disability in scleroderma. We report the results of a large randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial comparing placebo with recombinant human relaxin, 10 ug/kg of body weight per day and 25 ug/kg per day, given for 24 weeks in patients with stable, diffuse, moderate to severe scleroderma (SSc).
Men and women 18 to 70 years of age with diffuse SSc, disease duration ≤ 5 years since the onset of the first non-Raynaud sign or symptom, a baseline modified Rodnan skin score (MRSS) of 20 or greater, or at least 16 if truncal involvement was present. Recombinant human relaxin (10 or 25 ug/kg/day), or placebo was administered for 24 weeks as a continuous subcutaneous infusion and there was a follow-up safety visit at week 28.
The primary outcome measure, the MRSS, was similar between the 3 groups at baseline and at weeks 4, 12, and 24 (P=NS). Secondary outcomes such as functional disability were similar in all 3 groups and the forced vital capacity significantly decreased in the relaxin groups (p< 0.04). The discontinuation of relaxin (both doses) at week 24 led to statistically significant declines in creatinine clearance and serious renal adverse events (defined as either doubling of baseline serum creatinine, renal crisis, or grade 3 or 4 hypertension) in 7 patients who had received relaxin therapy but in none who had received placebo (p=0.04).
Recombinant relaxin was not significantly better than placebo in improving total skin score, pulmonary function, or functional disability in patients with diffuse SSc. In addition, relaxin was associated with serious renal adverse events, the majority of which occurred after stopping the infusion. If relaxin is used therapeutically for any conditions other than scleroderma, close monitoring of blood pressure and renal function must be performed.
PMCID: PMC3711466  PMID: 19333948
25.  Airways abnormalities and rheumatoid arthritis-related autoantibodies in subjects without arthritis: early injury or initiating site of autoimmunity? 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2011;64(6):1756-1761.
To evaluate the presence of pulmonary abnormalities in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-related autoantibody (Ab) positivity without inflammatory arthritis (IA).
42 subjects without IA but with elevations of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies and/or 2 or more rheumatoid factor isotypes (a profile that is 96% specific for RA), 15 Ab(−) controls and 12 patients with early established seropositive RA (<1 year duration) underwent spirometry and high-resolution computed tomographic (HRCT) lung imaging.
The median age of Ab(+) subjects was 54 years-old, 52% were female and 38% were smokers (not significantly different than Ab(−) controls). No Ab(+) subject had IA on joint examination. On HRCT, 76% of Ab(+) subjects had airways abnormalities including bronchial wall thickening, bronchiectasis, centrilobular opacities and air trapping, compared to 33% of Ab(−) controls (p=0.005). The Ab(+) subjects had similar prevalence and type of lung abnormalities compared to patients with early RA. Two Ab(+) subjects with airways disease developed IA classifiable as articular RA ~13 months after lung evaluation.
Airways abnormalities that are consistent with inflammation are common in Ab(+) subjects without IA, and similar to airways abnormalities seen in early RA. These findings suggest that the lung may be an early site of autoimmune-related injury, and potentially a site of generation of RA-related autoimmunity. Further studies are needed to define the mechanistic role of lung inflammation in the development of RA.
PMCID: PMC3319006  PMID: 22183986
Rheumatoid arthritis; etiology; autoantibodies; preclinical; lung disease

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