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1.  Secondary analysis of APPLE study suggests atorvastatin may reduce atherosclerosis progression in pubertal lupus patients with higher C reactive protein 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;73(3):557-566.
Objective
Participants in the Atherosclerosis Prevention in Paediatric Lupus Erythematosus (APPLE) trial were randomised to placebo or atorvastatin for 36 months. The primary endpoint, reduced carotid intima medial thickness (CIMT) progression, was not met but atorvastatin-treated participants showed a trend of slower CIMT progression. Post-hoc analyses were performed to assess subgroup benefit from atorvastatin therapy.
Methods
Subgroups were prespecified and defined by age (> or ≤15.5 years), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) duration (> or ≤24 months), pubertal status (Tanner score ≥4 as post-pubertal or <4 as pre-pubertal), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) (≥ or <110 mg/dl) and high-sensitivity C reactive protein (hsCRP) (≥ or <1.5 mg/l). A combined subgroup (post-pubertal and hsCRP≥1.5 mg/l) was compared to all others. Longitudinal linear mixed-effects models were developed using 12 CIMT and other secondary APPLE outcomes (lipids, hsCRP, disease activity and damage, and quality of life). Three way interaction effects were assessed for models.
Results
Significant interaction effects with trends of less CIMT progression in atorvastatin-treated participants were observed in pubertal (3 CIMT segments), high hsCRP (2 CIMT segments), and the combined high hsCRP and pubertal group (5 CIMT segments). No significant treatment effect trends were observed across subgroups defined by age, SLE duration, LDL for CIMT or other outcome measures.
Conclusions
Pubertal status and higher hsCRP were linked to lower CIMT progression in atorvastatin-treated subjects, with most consistent decreases in CIMT progression in the combined pubertal and high hsCRP group. While secondary analyses must be interpreted cautiously, results suggest further research is needed to determine whether pubertal lupus patients with high CRP benefit from statin therapy.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier
NCT00065806.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202315
PMCID: PMC4104199  PMID: 23436914
2.  Association of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus with Angiographically-defined Coronary Artery Disease: A Retrospective Cohort Study 
Arthritis care & research  2013;65(2):266-273.
Objective
To determine if systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is associated with a higher prevalence of coronary artery disease (CAD) in selected patients undergoing coronary angiography, we compared the extent of angiographic abnormalities, CAD risk factors, and all-cause mortality in SLE patients with non-SLE controls.
Methods
We identified SLE patients (N=86) and controls matched by sex and year of cardiac catheterization (N=258) undergoing cardiac catheterization for the evaluation of CAD (median follow up of 4.3 years). Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine if SLE was associated with obstructive CAD defined as ≥ 70% stenosis in a major epicardial coronary artery. Risk adjusted survival differences between the two groups were assessed using Cox proportional hazards modeling.
Results
SLE patients (85% female) were younger than non-SLE patients (median age 49 years vs. 70 years, p<0.001) and were less likely to have diabetes and hyperlipidemia, but had similar rates of hypertension (70% vs.71%, p=0.892). In unadjusted analyses, SLE patients and non-SLE patients had similar rates of obstructive CAD by angiography (52% vs. 62% overall p=0.11). After adjustment for known CAD risk factors, SLE was associated with a significantly increased likelihood of CAD (OR 2.24, 95% CI: 1.08, 4.67). SLE was also associated with a non-significant increase in all-cause mortality (HR 1.683, 95% CI: 0.98, 2.89 p=0.060).
Conclusion
In this selected population, SLE was significantly associated with the presence of CAD as defined by coronary angiography, the gold standard for assessing flow-limiting lesions in this disease. The patients with SLE showed a similar severity of CAD as the controls despite having less than half the rate of diabetes and being 20 years younger.
doi:10.1002/acr.21782
PMCID: PMC3496832  PMID: 22745037
3.  Autoantibodies in chronic idiopathic urticaria and nonurticarial systemic autoimmune disorders 
Background
Chronic idiopathic urticaria (CU) has been associated with other autoimmune diseases and basophil-activating autoantibodies to FcεRI or IgE. It is unknown whether patients with systemic-autoimmune diseases have a similar prevalence of these autoantibodies.
Objective
To compare the prevalences of basophil-activating autoantibodies (elevated CU Index) in patients with CU, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Clinical characteristics and laboratory studies were examined for an association with the CU Index.
Methods
Adult patients, 27 with CU, 27 with RA, and 26 with SLE, and 20 healthy controls were compared on the basis of the CU Index panel, anti-IgE, and antithyroid antibodies.
Results
The CU Index values were significantly higher in the CU group when compared with the RA group but not when compared with the SLE group. 33% of CU, 23% of SLE, 3.7% of RA, and 15% of controls had apositive CU Index. Elevated antithyroid antibody levels did not correlate with a positive CU Index in any of the groups. An elevated CU Index in the SLE group was not associated with age, sex, ethnicity, disease severity, or history of atopy.
Conclusion
The CU Index values were elevated in patients with CU and SLE. The presence of these autoantibodies did not correlate with disease activity or presence of thyroid antibodies. Functional autoantibodies may not be specific for chronic idiopathic urticaria, and their role in nonurticarial systemic autoimmune diseases requires further investigation.
doi:10.1016/j.anai.2012.10.020
PMCID: PMC3901433  PMID: 23244655
4.  CONSENSUS TREATMENT PLANS FOR INDUCTION THERAPY OF NEWLY-DIAGNOSED PROLIFERATIVE LUPUS NEPHRITIS IN JUVENILE SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS 
Arthritis care & research  2012;64(3):375-383.
Objective
To formulate consensus treatment plans (CTPs) for induction therapy of newly-diagnosed proliferative lupus nephritis (LN) in juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus (jSLE).
Methods
A structured consensus formation process was employed by the members of the Childhood Arthritis and Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA) after considering the existing medical evidence and current treatment approaches.
Results
After an initial Delphi survey (response rate 70%), a 2-day consensus conference, and two follow-up Delphi surveys (response rates 63–79%), consensus was achieved for a limited set of CTPs addressing the induction therapy of proliferative LN. These CTPs were developed for prototypic patients defined by eligibility characteristics, and included immunosuppressive therapy with either mycophenolic acid orally twice per day, or intravenous cyclophosphamide once per month at standardized doses for six months. Additionally, the CTPs describe three options for standardized use of glucocorticoids; including a primarily oral, a mixed oral/intravenous, and a primarily intravenous regimen. There was consensus on measures of effectiveness and safety of the CTPs. The CTPs were well accepted by the pediatric rheumatology providers treating children with LN, and up to 300 children per year in North America are expected to be candidates for the treatment with the CTPs.
Conclusion
CTPs for induction therapy of proliferative LN in jSLE based on the available scientific evidence and pediatric rheumatology group experience have been developed. Consistent use of the CTPs may improve the prognosis of proliferative LN, and support the conduct of comparative effectiveness studies aimed at optimizing therapeutic strategies for proliferative LN in jSLE.
doi:10.1002/acr.21558
PMCID: PMC3457803  PMID: 22162255
children; SLE; lupus nephritis; induction therapy; consensus
6.  AN APPROACH TO VALIDATE CRITERIA FOR PROTEINURIC FLARE IN SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS GLOMERULONEPHRITIS 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(7):2031-2037.
Objective
The published criteria for the proteinuria increase that constitutes a proteinuric flare in lupus glomerulonephritis (SLE GN) vary widely, likely because they are largely based on expert opinion. Ideally, the threshold for proteinuric flare should be set sufficiently high so that spontaneous variation in proteinuria does not likely explain the increase, but not so high that the patient is needlessly exposed to prolonged heavy proteinuria before a flare is declared and therapy is increased. Here we describe an evidence-based approach to setting the threshold for proteinuric flare based on quantifying the spontaneous variation in urine protein/creatinine (P/C) ratio of SLE GN patients who are not experiencing SLE flare.
Methods
SLE GN patients (N = 71) followed in the Ohio SLE Study (OSS) were tested at pre-specified bimonthly intervals within windows of ± 1 week, median follow-up > 44 mo, visit compliance > 90%. To assess spontaneous P/C ratio variation under no-flare conditions, we excluded P/C ratios measured within ± 4 month of renal flare.
Results
For those with mean no-flare P/C ratios ≤ 0.5, the published flare thresholds are set well above the 99% confidence interval (CI) of the no-flare P/C ratios. The opposite is seen in those with patients whose mean no-flare P/C ratios ≥ 1.0.
Conclusions
Current thresholds for proteinuric flare appear to be set either too high or too low. A randomized trial would be needed to test whether re-setting the thresholds would result in faster remission, less therapy, and less chronic kidney disease.
doi:10.1002/art.30345
PMCID: PMC3117977  PMID: 21400484
8.  Understanding Premature Atherosclerosis in Pediatric SLE: Risk Factors of Increased Carotid Intima Medial Thickness (CIMT) in the Atherosclerosis Prevention in Pediatric Lupus Erythematosus (APPLE) Cohort 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(5):1496-1507.
Objective
To evaluate risk factors of sub-clinical atherosclerosis in a pediatric SLE population.
Methods
A prospective multicenter cohort of 221 patients underwent baseline measurements of carotid intima medial thickening (CIMT) as part of the Atherosclerosis Prevention in Pediatric Lupus Erythematosus (APPLE) trial. SLE disease measures, medications, and traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis were assessed. A standardized protocol was used to assess thickness of the bilateral common carotids and mean maximal IMT of 12 segments. Univariable analysis identified potential associations with CIMT that were examined in multivariable linear regression modeling.
Results
Based on mean-mean common or mean-max CIMT as the dependent variable, univariable analysis showed significant associations with increased CIMT: increasing age, longer SLE duration, minority status, higher BMI, male sex, increased creatinine clearance, higher Lp(a), proteinuria, azathioprine use, and prednisone dose. Azathioprine use (P=0.005 for mean-mean common; P=0.102 for mean-max model) and male sex (P< 0.001) were both associated with increases in mean-max CIMT. Moderate dose prednisone (0.15–0.4 mg/kg/day) was associated with decreases in mean-max CIMT (P=0.024) while high or low dose prednisone was associated with mean-mean common CIMT (P=0.021) or mean-max CIMT (P=0.064), respectively. BMI (P<0.001) and creatinine clearance (P=0.031), remained associated with increased mean-mean common CIMT, while increasing age (P<0.001) and increasing Lp(a) (P=0.005) were associated with increased mean-max CIMT.
Conclusion
Traditional as well as non-traditional risk factors are associated with increased CIMT in pediatric SLE patients in this cohort. Azathioprine treatment was associated with increased CIMT. The relationship of CIMT with prednisone dose may not be linear.
doi:10.1002/art.24469
PMCID: PMC2770725  PMID: 19404953
9.  Developments in the scientific understanding of lupus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by the production of antinuclear antibodies (ANAs). Recent research into human and murine lupus suggests that disease susceptibility results from genetic polymorphisms regulating immune responses as well as impairing the clearance of apoptotic cells. Because the products of dead cells, including nucleic acids, have immunologic activity, this situation can promote antigen-driven ANA responses. Furthermore, immune complexes of ANAs can drive the production of proinflammatory cytokines, inducing the 'interferon signature', and intensifying disease. Together, these findings point to new genetic and immunologic markers of disease as well as targets for new therapies.
doi:10.1186/ar2488
PMCID: PMC2592776  PMID: 18947369
10.  The role of cell death in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease: HMGB1 and microparticles as intercellular mediators of inflammation 
Modern Rheumatology  2008;18(4):319-326.
Cell death is critical to normal homeostasis, although this process, when increased aberrantly, can lead to the production of pro-inflammatory mediators promoting autoimmunity. Two novel intercellular mediators of inflammation generated during cell death are high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein and microparticles (MPs). HMGB1 is a nuclear protein that functions in transcription when inside the nucleus but takes on pro-inflammatory properties when released during cell death. Microparticles are small, membrane-bound structures that extrude from cells when they die and contain cell surface proteins and nuclear material from their parent cells. MPs circulate widely throughout the vasculature and mediate long-distance communication between cells. Both MPs and HMGB1 have been implicated in the pathogenesis of a broad spectrum of inflammatory diseases, including the prototypic autoimmune conditions systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. Given their range of activity and association with active disease, both structures may prove to be targets for effective therapy in these and other disorders.
doi:10.1007/s10165-008-0054-z
PMCID: PMC2516192  PMID: 18418695
HMBG1; Microparticles; Apoptosis; Cell death; Autoimmunity

Results 1-10 (10)