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1.  Genetic associations of leptin-related polymorphisms with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Clinical immunology (Orlando, Fla.)  2015;161(2):157-162.
Leptin is abnormally elevated in the plasma of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), where it is thought to promote and/or sustain pro-inflammatory responses. Whether this association could reflect an increased genetic susceptibility to develop SLE is not known, and studies of genetic associations with leptin-related polymorphisms in SLE patients have been so far inconclusive. Here we genotyped DNA samples from 15,706 SLE patients and healthy matched controls from four different ancestral groups, to correlate polymorphisms of genes of the leptin pathway to risk for SLE. It was found that although several SNPs showed weak associations, those associations did not remain significant after correction for multiple testing. These data do not support associations between defined leptin-related polymorphisms and increased susceptibility to develop SLE.
PMCID: PMC4658308  PMID: 26385092
systemic lupus erythematosus; leptin pathway; gene polymorphisms
2.  Epigenetic Signatures of Salivary Gland Inflammation in Sjögren's Syndrome 
Sjögren's syndrome (SS) is a complex multisystem autoimmune disease that results in progressive destruction of the exocrine glands. The purpose of this study was to characterize epigenetic changes in affected gland tissue and describe the relationship of these changes to known inflammatory processes.
A genome‐wide DNA methylation study was performed on human labial salivary gland (LSG) biopsy samples obtained from 28 female members of the Sjögren's International Collaborative Clinical Alliance (SICCA) Registry. Gland tissue was methylotyped using the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip platform, followed by rigorous probe‐filtering and data‐normalization procedures.
A genome‐wide case–control study of 26 of the 28 subjects revealed 7,820 differentially methylated positions (DMPs) associated with disease status, including 5,699 hypomethylated and 2,121 hypermethylated DMPs. Further analysis identified 57 genes that were enriched for DMPs in their respective promoters; many are involved in immune response, including 2 previously established SS genetic risk loci. Bioinformatics analysis highlighted an extended region of hypomethylation surrounding PSMB8 and TAP1, consistent with an increased frequency of antigen‐presenting cells in LSG tissue from the SS cases. Transcription factor motif enrichment analysis revealed the specific nature of the genome‐wide methylation differences, demonstrating colocalization of SS‐associated DMPs with stress‐ and immune response–related motifs.
Our findings underscore the utility of CpG methylotyping as an independent probe of active disease processes in SS, offering unique insights into the composition of disease‐relevant tissue. Methylation profiling implicated several genes and pathways previously thought to be involved in disease‐related processes, as well as a number of new candidates.
PMCID: PMC5132022  PMID: 27332624
3.  Erratum: Crowdsourced assessment of common genetic contribution to predicting anti-TNF treatment response in rheumatoid arthritis 
Sieberts, Solveig K. | Zhu, Fan | García-García, Javier | Stahl, Eli | Pratap, Abhishek | Pandey, Gaurav | Pappas, Dimitrios | Aguilar, Daniel | Anton, Bernat | Bonet, Jaume | Eksi, Ridvan | Fornés, Oriol | Guney, Emre | Li, Hongdong | Marín, Manuel Alejandro | Panwar, Bharat | Planas-Iglesias, Joan | Poglayen, Daniel | Cui, Jing | Falcao, Andre O. | Suver, Christine | Hoff, Bruce | Balagurusamy, Venkat S. K. | Dillenberger, Donna | Neto, Elias Chaibub | Norman, Thea | Aittokallio, Tero | Ammad-ud-din, Muhammad | Azencott, Chloe-Agathe | Bellón, Víctor | Boeva, Valentina | Bunte, Kerstin | Chheda, Himanshu | Cheng, Lu | Corander, Jukka | Dumontier, Michel | Goldenberg, Anna | Gopalacharyulu, Peddinti | Hajiloo, Mohsen | Hidru, Daniel | Jaiswal, Alok | Kaski, Samuel | Khalfaoui, Beyrem | Khan, Suleiman Ali | Kramer, Eric R. | Marttinen, Pekka | Mezlini, Aziz M. | Molparia, Bhuvan | Pirinen, Matti | Saarela, Janna | Samwald, Matthias | Stoven, Véronique | Tang, Hao | Tang, Jing | Torkamani, Ali | Vert, Jean-Phillipe | Wang, Bo | Wang, Tao | Wennerberg, Krister | Wineinger, Nathan E. | Xiao, Guanghua | Xie, Yang | Yeung, Rae | Zhan, Xiaowei | Zhao, Cheng | Greenberg, Jeff | Kremer, Joel | Michaud, Kaleb | Barton, Anne | Coenen, Marieke | Mariette, Xavier | Miceli, Corinne | Shadick, Nancy | Weinblatt, Michael | de Vries, Niek | Tak, Paul P. | Gerlag, Danielle | Huizinga, Tom W. J. | Kurreeman, Fina | Allaart, Cornelia F. | Bridges Jr., S. Louis | Criswell, Lindsey | Moreland, Larry | Klareskog, Lars | Saevarsdottir, Saedis | Padyukov, Leonid | Gregersen, Peter K. | Friend, Stephen | Plenge, Robert | Stolovitzky, Gustavo | Oliva, Baldo | Guan, Yuanfang | Mangravite, Lara M.
Nature Communications  2016;7:13205.
PMCID: PMC5062501  PMID: 27721464
4.  GWAS in an Amerindian ancestry population reveals novel systemic lupus erythematosus risk loci and the role of European admixture 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease with a strong genetic component. Our aim was to perform the first genome-wide association study on individuals from the Americas enriched for Native American heritage.
We analyzed 3,710 individuals from four countries of Latin America and the Unites States diagnosed with SLE and healthy controls. Samples were genotyped with the HumanOmni1 BeadChip. Data of out-of-study controls was obtained for the HumanOmni2.5. Statistical analyses were performed using SNPTEST and SNPGWA. Data was adjusted for genomic control and FDR. Imputation was done using IMPUTE2, and HiBAG for classical HLA alleles.
The IRF5-TNPO3 region showed the strongest association and largest odds ratio (OR) (rs10488631, Pgcadj = 2.61×10−29, OR = 2.12, 95% CI: 1.88–2.39) followed by the HLA class II on the DQA2-DQB1 loci (rs9275572, Pgcadj = 1.11 × 10−16, OR = 1.62, 95% CI: 1.46–1.80; rs9271366, Pgcadj=6.46 × 10−12, OR = 2.06, 95% CI: 1.71–2.50). Other known SLE loci associated were ITGAM, STAT4, TNIP1, NCF2 and IRAK1. We identified a novel locus on 10q24.33 (rs4917385, Pgcadj =1.4×10−8) with a eQTL effect (Peqtl=8.0 × 10−37 at USMG5/miR1307), and describe novel loci. We corroborate SLE-risk loci previously identified in European and Asians. Local ancestry estimation showed that HLA allele risk contribution is of European ancestral origin. Imputation of HLA alleles suggested that autochthonous Native American haplotypes provide protection.
Our results show the insight gained by studying admixed populations to delineate the genetic architecture that underlies autoimmune and complex diseases.
PMCID: PMC4829354  PMID: 26606652
5.  Molecular Subsetting of Interferon Pathways in Sjogren's syndrom 
Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) is an autoimmune disease targeting salivary and lacrimal glands. While all patients demonstrate inflammatory infiltration and abnormal secretory function in target tissues, disease features, pathology and clinical course can vary. Activation of distinct inflammatory pathways may drive disease heterogeneity. We investigated whether interferon (IFN) pathway activation correlates with key phenotypic features.
Clinical data and one frozen labial salivary gland were obtained from each of 82 participants (53 primary SS, 29 controls) in the Sjögren’s International Collaborative Clinical Alliance registry. Salivary gland lysates were immunoblotted with markers of type I or II IFN and patterns of IFN activity were determined by hierarchical clustering. Correlations were defined between SS phenotypic features and IFN activity in the salivary gland.
58% of SS participants had high IFN activity and differed significantly from those with low activity (higher prevalence of abnormal sialometry, leukopenia, hyperglobulinemia, high titer ANA, anti-SSA, and high focus score). Furthermore, distinct patterns of IFN were evident: type I-predominant; type II-predominant; and type I/II IFN. These groups were clinically indistinguishable except for focus score which was highest in type II-predominant participants.
The SS phenotype includes distinct molecular subtypes, segregated by the magnitude and pattern of IFN responses. Associations between IFN pathways and disease activity suggest that IFNs are relevant therapeutic targets in SS. Patients with distinct patterns of high IFN activity are clinically similar, demonstrating that IFN-targeting therapies must be selected based on prior analyses of which specific pathway(s) are active in vivo in individual patients.
PMCID: PMC4551661  PMID: 25988820
Sjogren’s syndrome; interferon; molecular diagnostics
6.  Crowdsourced assessment of common genetic contribution to predicting anti-TNF treatment response in rheumatoid arthritis 
Sieberts, Solveig K. | Zhu, Fan | García-García, Javier | Stahl, Eli | Pratap, Abhishek | Pandey, Gaurav | Pappas, Dimitrios | Aguilar, Daniel | Anton, Bernat | Bonet, Jaume | Eksi, Ridvan | Fornés, Oriol | Guney, Emre | Li, Hongdong | Marín, Manuel Alejandro | Panwar, Bharat | Planas-Iglesias, Joan | Poglayen, Daniel | Cui, Jing | Falcao, Andre O. | Suver, Christine | Hoff, Bruce | Balagurusamy, Venkat S. K. | Dillenberger, Donna | Neto, Elias Chaibub | Norman, Thea | Aittokallio, Tero | Ammad-ud-din, Muhammad | Azencott, Chloe-Agathe | Bellón, Víctor | Boeva, Valentina | Bunte, Kerstin | Chheda, Himanshu | Cheng, Lu | Corander, Jukka | Dumontier, Michel | Goldenberg, Anna | Gopalacharyulu, Peddinti | Hajiloo, Mohsen | Hidru, Daniel | Jaiswal, Alok | Kaski, Samuel | Khalfaoui, Beyrem | Khan, Suleiman Ali | Kramer, Eric R. | Marttinen, Pekka | Mezlini, Aziz M. | Molparia, Bhuvan | Pirinen, Matti | Saarela, Janna | Samwald, Matthias | Stoven, Véronique | Tang, Hao | Tang, Jing | Torkamani, Ali | Vert, Jean-Phillipe | Wang, Bo | Wang, Tao | Wennerberg, Krister | Wineinger, Nathan E. | Xiao, Guanghua | Xie, Yang | Yeung, Rae | Zhan, Xiaowei | Zhao, Cheng | Greenberg, Jeff | Kremer, Joel | Michaud, Kaleb | Barton, Anne | Coenen, Marieke | Mariette, Xavier | Miceli, Corinne | Shadick, Nancy | Weinblatt, Michael | de Vries, Niek | Tak, Paul P. | Gerlag, Danielle | Huizinga, Tom W. J. | Kurreeman, Fina | Allaart, Cornelia F. | Louis Bridges Jr., S. | Criswell, Lindsey | Moreland, Larry | Klareskog, Lars | Saevarsdottir, Saedis | Padyukov, Leonid | Gregersen, Peter K. | Friend, Stephen | Plenge, Robert | Stolovitzky, Gustavo | Oliva, Baldo | Guan, Yuanfang | Mangravite, Lara M.
Nature Communications  2016;7:12460.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects millions world-wide. While anti-TNF treatment is widely used to reduce disease progression, treatment fails in ∼one-third of patients. No biomarker currently exists that identifies non-responders before treatment. A rigorous community-based assessment of the utility of SNP data for predicting anti-TNF treatment efficacy in RA patients was performed in the context of a DREAM Challenge ( An open challenge framework enabled the comparative evaluation of predictions developed by 73 research groups using the most comprehensive available data and covering a wide range of state-of-the-art modelling methodologies. Despite a significant genetic heritability estimate of treatment non-response trait (h2=0.18, P value=0.02), no significant genetic contribution to prediction accuracy is observed. Results formally confirm the expectations of the rheumatology community that SNP information does not significantly improve predictive performance relative to standard clinical traits, thereby justifying a refocusing of future efforts on collection of other data.
Rheumatoid arthritis patients respond differently to anti-TNF treatment. Using community-based challenge, the authors show that currently available data does not reveal meaningful genetic predictors of response to anti-TNF therapy, thus confirming clinical observations.
PMCID: PMC4996969  PMID: 27549343
7.  Identification of a systemic lupus erythematosus risk locus spanning ATG16L2, FCHSD2, and P2RY2 in Koreans 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disorder whose etiology is incompletely understood, but likely involves environmental triggers in genetically susceptible individuals. We sought to identify the genetic loci associated with SLE in a Korean population by performing an unbiased genome-wide association scan.
A total of 1,174 Korean SLE cases and 4,248 population controls were genotyped with strict quality control measures and analyzed for association. For select variants, replication was tested in an independent set of 1,412 SLE cases and 1,163 population controls of Korean and Chinese ancestries.
Eleven regions outside the HLA exceeded genome-wide significance (P<5×10−8). A novel SNP-SLE association was identified between FCHSD2 and P2RY2 peaking at rs11235667 (P = 1.0×10−8, odds ratio (OR) = 0.59) on a 33kb haplotype upstream to ATG16L2. Replication for rs11235667 resulted in Pmeta-rep=0.001 and Pmeta-overall=6.67×10−11 (OR=0.63). Within the HLA region, association peaked in the Class II region at rs116727542 with multiple independent effects. Classical HLA allele imputation identified HLA-DRB1*1501 and HLA-DQB1*0602, both highly correlated, as most strongly associated with SLE. We replicated ten previously established SLE risk loci: STAT1-STAT4, TNFSF4, TNFAIP3, IKZF1, HIP1, IRF5, BLK, WDFY4, ETS1 and IRAK1-MECP2. Of these loci, we identified previously unreported independent second effects in TNFAIP3 and TNFSF4 as well as differences in the association for a putative causal variant in the WDFY4 region.
Further studies are needed to identify true SLE risk effects in other suggestive loci and to identify the causal variant(s) in the regions of ATG16L2, FCHSD2, and P2RY2.
PMCID: PMC4981330  PMID: 26663301
8.  Interactions between Patients, Providers, and Health Systems and Technical Quality of Care 
Arthritis care & research  2015;67(3):417-424.
Prior studies have established disparities by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES) in the kind, quantity, and technical quality of SLE care and outcomes. In this study we evaluate whether disparities exist in assessments of interactions with health care providers and health plans and whether such interactions affect the technical quality of SLE care.
Data derive from the Lupus Outcomes Study (LOS). Principal data collection is an annual structured phone interview including items from the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans and Interpersonal Processes of Care Scale measuring dimensions of health care interactions. We use general estimating equations to assess whether disparities exist by race/ethnicity and SES in being in the lowest quartile of ratings of such interactions and whether ratings in the lowest quartile of interactions are associated with technical quality of care after adjustment for sociodemographic and disease characteristics.
In the 2012 LOS interview, there were 793 respondents, of whom 640 had ≥1 visits to their principal SLE provider. Non-white race/ethnicity and education were not associated with low ratings on any dimension of provider or system interaction; poverty was associated only with low ratings of health plan interactions. After adjustment for demographics, SLE status, and health care variables, ratings in the lowest quartile on all dimensions were associated with significantly lower technical quality of care.
Ratings in the lowest quartile on all dimensions of interactions with providers and the health care system were associated with lower technical quality of care, potentially resulting in poorer SLE outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4320034  PMID: 25132660
9.  Preferential association of a functional variant in complement receptor 2 with antibodies to double-stranded DNA 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;75(1):242-252.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; OMIM 152700) is characterised by the production of antibodies to nuclear antigens. We previously identified variants in complement receptor 2 (CR2/CD21) that were associated with decreased risk of SLE. This study aimed to identify the causal variant for this association.
Genotyped and imputed genetic variants spanning CR2 were assessed for association with SLE in 15 750 case-control subjects from four ancestral groups. Allele-specific functional effects of associated variants were determined using quantitative real-time PCR, quantitative flow cytometry, electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-PCR.
The strongest association signal was detected at rs1876453 in intron 1 of CR2 (pmeta=4.2×10−4, OR 0.85), specifically when subjects were stratified based on the presence of dsDNA autoantibodies (case-control pmeta=7.6×10−7, OR 0.71; case-only pmeta=1.9×10−4, OR 0.75). Although allele-specific effects on B cell CR2 mRNA or protein levels were not identified, levels of complement receptor 1 (CR1/CD35) mRNA and protein were significantly higher on B cells of subjects harbouring the minor allele (p=0.0248 and p=0.0006, respectively). The minor allele altered the formation of several DNA protein complexes by EMSA, including one containing CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), an effect that was confirmed by ChIP-PCR.
These data suggest that rs1876453 in CR2 has long-range effects on gene regulation that decrease susceptibility to lupus. Since the minor allele at rs1876453 is preferentially associated with reduced risk of the highly specific dsDNA autoantibodies that are present in preclinical, active and severe lupus, understanding its mechanisms will have important therapeutic implications.
PMCID: PMC4717392  PMID: 25180293
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Autoantibodies; Gene Polymorphism; B cells
10.  The IRF5–TNPO3 association with systemic lupus erythematosus has two components that other autoimmune disorders variably share 
Kottyan, Leah C. | Zoller, Erin E. | Bene, Jessica | Lu, Xiaoming | Kelly, Jennifer A. | Rupert, Andrew M. | Lessard, Christopher J. | Vaughn, Samuel E. | Marion, Miranda | Weirauch, Matthew T. | Namjou, Bahram | Adler, Adam | Rasmussen, Astrid | Glenn, Stuart | Montgomery, Courtney G. | Hirschfield, Gideon M. | Xie, Gang | Coltescu, Catalina | Amos, Chris | Li, He | Ice, John A. | Nath, Swapan K. | Mariette, Xavier | Bowman, Simon | Rischmueller, Maureen | Lester, Sue | Brun, Johan G. | Gøransson, Lasse G. | Harboe, Erna | Omdal, Roald | Cunninghame-Graham, Deborah S. | Vyse, Tim | Miceli-Richard, Corinne | Brennan, Michael T. | Lessard, James A. | Wahren-Herlenius, Marie | Kvarnström, Marika | Illei, Gabor G. | Witte, Torsten | Jonsson, Roland | Eriksson, Per | Nordmark, Gunnel | Ng, Wan-Fai | Anaya, Juan-Manuel | Rhodus, Nelson L. | Segal, Barbara M. | Merrill, Joan T. | James, Judith A. | Guthridge, Joel M. | Hal Scofield, R. | Alarcon-Riquelme, Marta | Bae, Sang-Cheol | Boackle, Susan A. | Criswell, Lindsey A. | Gilkeson, Gary | Kamen, Diane L. | Jacob, Chaim O. | Kimberly, Robert | Brown, Elizabeth | Edberg, Jeffrey | Alarcón, Graciela S. | Reveille, John D. | Vilá, Luis M. | Petri, Michelle | Ramsey-Goldman, Rosalind | Freedman, Barry I. | Niewold, Timothy | Stevens, Anne M. | Tsao, Betty P. | Ying, Jun | Mayes, Maureen D. | Gorlova, Olga Y. | Wakeland, Ward | Radstake, Timothy | Martin, Ezequiel | Martin, Javier | Siminovitch, Katherine | Moser Sivils, Kathy L. | Gaffney, Patrick M. | Langefeld, Carl D. | Harley, John B. | Kaufman, Kenneth M.
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;24(2):582-596.
Exploiting genotyping, DNA sequencing, imputation and trans-ancestral mapping, we used Bayesian and frequentist approaches to model the IRF5–TNPO3 locus association, now implicated in two immunotherapies and seven autoimmune diseases. Specifically, in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we resolved separate associations in the IRF5 promoter (all ancestries) and with an extended European haplotype. We captured 3230 IRF5–TNPO3 high-quality, common variants across 5 ethnicities in 8395 SLE cases and 7367 controls. The genetic effect from the IRF5 promoter can be explained by any one of four variants in 5.7 kb (P-valuemeta = 6 × 10−49; OR = 1.38–1.97). The second genetic effect spanned an 85.5-kb, 24-variant haplotype that included the genes IRF5 and TNPO3 (P-valuesEU = 10−27–10−32, OR = 1.7–1.81). Many variants at the IRF5 locus with previously assigned biological function are not members of either final credible set of potential causal variants identified herein. In addition to the known biologically functional variants, we demonstrated that the risk allele of rs4728142, a variant in the promoter among the lowest frequentist probability and highest Bayesian posterior probability, was correlated with IRF5 expression and differentially binds the transcription factor ZBTB3. Our analytical strategy provides a novel framework for future studies aimed at dissecting etiological genetic effects. Finally, both SLE elements of the statistical model appear to operate in Sjögren's syndrome and systemic sclerosis whereas only the IRF5–TNPO3 gene-spanning haplotype is associated with primary biliary cirrhosis, demonstrating the nuance of similarity and difference in autoimmune disease risk mechanisms at IRF5–TNPO3.
PMCID: PMC4275071  PMID: 25205108
11.  Genetic Association of CD247 (CD3ζ) with SLE in a Large-Scale Multiethnic Study 
Genes and immunity  2015;16(2):142-150.
A classic T-cell phenotype in Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the downregulation and replacement of the CD3ζ chain that alters TCR signaling. However, genetic associations with SLE in the human CD247 locus that encodes CD3ζ are not well established and require replication in independent cohorts. Our aim was therefore to examine, localize and validate CD247-SLE association in a large multi-ethnic population. We typed 44 contiguous CD247 SNPs in 8 922 SLE patients and 8 077 controls from four ethnically distinct populations. The strongest associations were found in the Asian population (11 SNPs in intron 1, 4.99×10−4
PMCID: PMC4371129  PMID: 25569266
Genes and immunity  2014;16(2):120-126.
TNFAIP3 encodes aubiquitin-modifying protein, A20, that is a critical regulator of inflammatory responses. TNFAIP3 polymorphisms are associated with susceptibility to multiple autoimmune diseases including psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis, and celiac disease. In order to refine the TNFAIP3 association signal in psoriasis and identify candidate causal variants, we performed imputation and meta-analysis of the TNFAIP3 region in five European ancestry cohorts totaling 4,704 psoriasis cases and 7,805 controls. We identified 49 variants whose significance exceeded a corrected Bonferroni threshold, with the top variant being rs582757 (P = 6.07 × 10−12, OR = 1.23). Conditional analysis revealed a suggestive independent association at rs6918329 (Pcond = 7.22 × 10−5, OR=1.15). Functional annotation of the top variants identified several with strong evidence of regulatory potential and several within long non-coding RNAs. Analysis of TNFAIP3 haplotypes revealed that the psoriasis risk haplotype is distinct from other autoimmune diseases. Overall, our findings identify novel candidate causal variants of TNFAIP3 in psoriasis and highlight the complex genetic architecture of this locus in autoimmune susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC4526682  PMID: 25521225
PLoS ONE  2015;10(8):e0134974.
To investigate DKK-1 and SOST serum levels among patients with recent inflammatory back pain (IBP) fulfilling ASAS criteria for SpA and associated factors.
The DESIR cohort is a prospective, multicenter French cohort of 708 patients with early IBP (duration >3 months and <3 years) suggestive of AxSpA. DKK-1 and SOST serum levels were assessed at baseline and were compared between the subgroup of patients fulfilling ASAS criteria for SpA (n = 486; 68.6%) and 80 healthy controls.
Mean SOST serum levels were lower in ASAS+ patients than healthy controls (49.21 ± 25.9 vs. 87.8 ± 26 pmol/L; p<0.0001). In multivariate analysis, age (p = 5.4 10−9), CRP level (p<0.0001) and serum DKK-1 level (p = 0.001) were associated with SOST level. Mean DKK-1 serum levels were higher in axial SpA patients than controls (30.03 ± 15.5 vs. 11.6 ± 4.2 pmol/L; p<0.0001). In multivariate analysis, DKK-1 serum levels were associated with male gender (p = 0.03), CRP level (p = 0.006), SOST serum level (p = 0.002) and presence of sacroiliitis on radiography (p = 0.05). Genetic association testing of 10 SNPs encompassing the DKK-1 locus failed to demonstrate a significant contribution of genetics to control of DKK-1 serum levels.
DKK-1 serum levels were increased and SOST levels were decreased among a large cohort of patients with early axial SpA compared to healthy controls. DKK-1 serum levels were mostly associated with biological inflammation and SOST serum levels.
PMCID: PMC4552086  PMID: 26313358
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0129813.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is characterized by the development of autoantibodies associated with specific clinical manifestations. Previous studies have shown an association between differential DNA methylation and SLE susceptibility, but have not investigated SLE-related autoantibodies. Our goal was to determine whether DNA methylation is associated with production of clinically relevant SLE-related autoantibodies, with an emphasis on the anti-dsDNA autoantibody. In this study, we characterized the methylation status of 467,314 CpG sites in 326 women with SLE. Using a discovery and replication study design, we identified and replicated significant associations between anti-dsDNA autoantibody production and the methylation status of 16 CpG sites (pdiscovery<1.07E-07 and preplication<0.0029) in 11 genes. Associations were further investigated using multivariable regression to adjust for estimated leukocyte cell proportions and population substructure. The adjusted mean DNA methylation difference between anti-dsDNA positive and negative cases ranged from 1.2% to 19%, and the adjusted odds ratio for anti-dsDNA autoantibody production comparing the lowest and highest methylation tertiles ranged from 6.8 to 18.2. Differential methylation for these CpG sites was also associated with anti-SSA, anti-Sm, and anti-RNP autoantibody production. Overall, associated CpG sites were hypomethylated in autoantibody positive compared to autoantibody negative cases. Differential methylation of CpG sites within the major histocompatibility region was not strongly associated with autoantibody production. Genes with differentially methylated CpG sites represent multiple biologic pathways, and have not been associated with autoantibody production in genetic association studies. In conclusion, hypomethylation of CpG sites within genes from different pathways is associated with anti-dsDNA, anti-SSA, anti-Sm, and anti-RNP production in SLE, and these associations are not explained by genetic variation. Thus, studies of epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation represent a complementary method to genetic association studies to identify biologic pathways that may contribute to the clinical heterogeneity of autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC4508022  PMID: 26192630
Genes and immunity  2014;16(1):15-23.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by inflammation of multiple organ systems and dysregulated interferon responses. SLE is both genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous, greatly reducing the power of case-control studies in SLE. Elevated circulating interferon alpha (IFN-α) is a stable, heritable trait in SLE, which has been implicated in primary disease pathogenesis. 40–50% of patients have high IFN-α, and high levels correspond with clinical differences. To study genetic heterogeneity in SLE, we performed a case-case study comparing patients with high vs. low IFN-α in over 1550 SLE cases, including GWAS and replication cohorts. In meta-analysis, the top associations in European ancestry were PRKG1 rs7897633 (PMeta=2.75 × 10−8) and PNP rs1049564 (PMeta=1.24 × 10−7). We also found evidence for cross-ancestral background associations with the ANKRD44 and PLEKHF2 loci. These loci have not been previously identified in case-control SLE genetic studies. Bioinformatic analyses implicated these loci functionally in dendritic cells and natural killer cells, both of which are involved in IFN-α production in SLE. As case-control studies of heterogeneous diseases reach a limit of feasibility with respect to subject number and detectable effect size, the study of informative pathogenic subphenotypes becomes an attractive strategy for genetic discovery in complex disease.
PMCID: PMC4305028  PMID: 25338677
Significant advances have been made in understanding the genetic basis of systemic sclerosis (SSc) in recent years. Genomewide association and other large-scale genetic studies have identified 30 largely immunity-related genes which are significantly associated with SSc. We review these studies, along with genomewide expression studies, proteomic studies, genetic mouse models, and insights from rare sclerodermatous diseases. Collectively, these studies have begun to identify pathways that are relevant to SSc pathogenesis. The findings presented in this review illustrate how both genetic and genomic aberrations play important roles in the development of SSc. However, despite these recent discoveries, there remain major gaps between current knowledge of SSc, a unified understanding of pathogenesis, and effective treatment. To this aim, we address the important issue of SSc heterogeneity and discuss how future research needs to address this in order to develop a clearer understanding of this devastating and complex disease.
PMCID: PMC4361757  PMID: 25777745
Scleroderma; Systemic sclerosis; Autoimmune disease; Genetics; Single nucleotide polymorphisms; Genomics; Mouse models; Heterogeneity
Genes and immunity  2014;15(6):347-354.
In a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) of individuals of European ancestry afflicted with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) the extensive utilization of imputation, stepwise multiple regression, lasso regularization, and increasing study power by utilizing False Discovery Rate (FDR) instead of a Bonferroni multiple test correction enabled us to identify 13 novel non-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes and confirmed the association of 4 genes previously reported to be associated. Novel genes associated with SLE susceptibility included two transcription factors (EHF, and MED1), two components of the NFκB pathway (RASSF2 and RNF114), one gene involved in adhesion and endothelial migration (CNTN6), and two genes involved in antigen presentation (BIN1 and SEC61G). In addition, the strongly significant association of multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the HLA region was assigned to HLA alleles and serotypes and deconvoluted into four primary signals. The novel SLE-associated genes point to new directions for both the diagnosis and treatment of this debilitating autoimmune disease.
PMCID: PMC4156543  PMID: 24871463
Frontiers in Genetics  2015;5:450.
Genome wide association studies have identified variants in PXK that confer risk for humoral autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), rheumatoid arthritis and more recently systemic sclerosis. While PXK is involved in trafficking of epidermal growth factor Receptor (EGFR) in COS-7 cells, mechanisms linking PXK to lupus pathophysiology have remained undefined. In an effort to uncover the mechanism at this locus that increases lupus-risk, we undertook a fine-mapping analysis in a large multi-ancestral study of lupus patients and controls. We define a large (257kb) common haplotype marking a single causal variant that confers lupus risk detected only in European ancestral populations and spans the promoter through the 3′ UTR of PXK. The strongest association was found at rs6445972 with P < 4.62 × 10−10, OR 0.81 (0.75–0.86). Using stepwise logistic regression analysis, we demonstrate that one signal drives the genetic association in the region. Bayesian analysis confirms our results, identifying a 95% credible set consisting of 172 variants spanning 202 kb. Functionally, we found that PXK operates on the B-cell antigen receptor (BCR); we confirmed that PXK influenced the rate of BCR internalization. Furthermore, we demonstrate that individuals carrying the risk haplotype exhibited a decreased rate of BCR internalization, a process known to impact B cell survival and cell fate. Taken together, these data define a new candidate mechanism for the genetic association of variants around PXK with lupus risk and highlight the regulation of intracellular trafficking as a genetically regulated pathway mediating human autoimmunity.
PMCID: PMC4288052  PMID: 25620976
lupus; PXK; fine-mapping; B cells; BCR
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2013;73(1):10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202099.
To examine disease activity versus treatment as lymphoma risk factors in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3855611  PMID: 23303389
Thrombosis is a serious complication of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Studies that have investigated the genetics of thrombosis in SLE are limited. We undertook this study to assess the association of previously implicated candidate genes, particularly Toll-like receptor (TLR) genes, with pathogenesis of thrombosis.
We genotyped 3,587 SLE patients from 3 multiethnic populations for 77 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 10 genes, primarily in TLRs 2, 4, 7, and 9, and we also genotyped 64 ancestry-informative markers (AIMs). We first analyzed association with arterial and venous thrombosis in the combined population via logistic regression, adjusting for top principal components of the AIMs and other covariates. We also subjected an associated SNP, rs893629, to meta-analysis (after stratification by ethnicity and study population) to confirm the association and to test for study population or ethnicity effects.
In the combined analysis, the SNP rs893629 in the KIAA0922/TLR2 region was significantly associated with arterial thrombosis (logistic P = 6.4 × 10−5, false discovery rate P = 0.0044). Two additional SNPs in TLR2 were also suggestive: rs1816702 (logistic P = 0.002) and rs4235232 (logistic P = 0.009). In the meta-analysis by study population, the odds ratio (OR) for arterial thrombosis with rs893629 was 2.44 (95% confidence interval 1.58–3.76), without evidence for heterogeneity (P = 0.78). By ethnicity, the effect was most significant among African Americans (OR 2.42, P = 3.5 × 10−4) and European Americans (OR 3.47, P = 0.024).
TLR2 gene variation is associated with thrombosis in SLE, particularly among African Americans and European Americans. There was no evidence of association among Hispanics, and results in Asian Americans were limited due to insufficient sample size. These results may help elucidate the pathogenesis of this important clinical manifestation.
PMCID: PMC4269184  PMID: 24578102
Nature genetics  2010;42(6):508-514.
To identify novel genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis of 5,539 autoantibody positive RA cases and 20,169 controls of European descent, followed by replication in an independent set of 6,768 RA cases and 8,806 controls. Of 34 SNPs selected for replication, 7 novel RA risk alleles were identified at genome-wide significance (P<5×10−8) in analysis of all 41,282 samples. The associated SNPs are near genes of known immune function, including IL6ST, SPRED2, RBPJ, CCR6, IRF5, and PXK. We also refined the risk alleles at two established RA risk loci (IL2RA and CCL21) and confirmed the association at AFF3. These new associations bring the total number of confirmed RA risk loci to 31 among individuals of European ancestry. An additional 11 SNPs replicated at P<0.05, many of which are validated autoimmune risk alleles, suggesting that most represent bona fide RA risk alleles.
PMCID: PMC4243840  PMID: 20453842
Science translational medicine  2013;5(195):195ra96.
Primary Sjögren’s syndrome (pSS) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by a lymphocytic exocrinopathy. However, patients often have evidence of systemic autoimmunity and they are at markedly increased risk for the development of non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Similar to other autoimmune disorders, a strong interferon (IFN) signature is present among subsets of pSS patients, though the precise etiology remains uncertain. NCR3/NKp30 is a NK-specific activating receptor regulating the cross-talk between NK and dendritic cells and type II IFN secretion. We performed a case-control study of genetic polymorphisms of the NCR3/NKp30 gene and found that rs11575837 (G>A) residing in the promoter was associated with reduced gene transcription and function as well as protection to pSS. We also demonstrated that circulating levels of NCR3/NKp30 were markedly increased among pSS patients compared with controls and correlated with higher NCR3/NKp30 but not CD16-dependent IFN-γ secretion by NK cells. Excess accumulation of NK cells in minor salivary glands correlated with the severity of the exocrinopathy. B7H6, the ligand of NKp30, was expressed by salivary epithelial cells. These findings suggest that NK cells may promote an NKp30-dependent inflammatory state in salivary glands, and that blockade of the B7H6/NKp30 axis could be clinically relevant in pSS.
PMCID: PMC4237161  PMID: 23884468
Sjögren’s syndrome; autoimmunity; NK cells; innate immunity; NKp30/NCR3
Oncology  2013;85(4):10.1159/000350165.
To describe non-lymphoma hematological malignancies in SLE.
A large SLE cohort was linked to cancer registries. We examined the types of non-lymphoma hematological cancers.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3880772  PMID: 24107608
Systemic lupus erythematosus; malignancy; cancer
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;72(8):1375-1381.
Treatment strategies blocking tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) have proven very successful in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, a significant subset of patients does not respond for unknown reasons. Currently there are no means of identifying these patients prior to treatment. This study was aimed at identifying genetic factors predicting anti-TNF treatment outcome in patient with RA using a genome-wide association approach.
We conducted a multi-stage, genome-wide association study with a primary analysis of 2,557,253 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 882 RA patients receiving anti-TNF therapy included through the Dutch Rheumatoid Arthritis Monitoring (DREAM) registry and the database of Apotheekzorg. Linear regression analysis of changes in the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints after 14 weeks of treatment was performed using an additive model. Markers with a p<10−3 were selected for replication in 1,821 RA patients from three independent cohorts. Pathway analysis including all SNPs with a p-value < 10−3 was performed using Ingenuity.
Seven hundred seventy two markers demonstrated evidence of association with treatment outcome in the initial stage. Eight genetic loci showed improved p-value in the overall meta-analysis compared to the first stage, three of which (rs1568885, rs1813443 and rs4411591) showed directional consistency over all four studied cohorts. We were unable to replicate markers previously reported to be associated with anti-TNF outcome. Network analysis indicated strong involvement of biological processes underlying inflammatory response and cell morphology.
Using a multi-stage strategy, we have identified 8 genetic loci associated with response to anti-TNF treatment. Further studies are required to validate these findings in additional patient collections.
PMCID: PMC4169706  PMID: 23233654
anti-TNF; gene polymorphism; pharmacogenetics; rheumatoid arthritis; genome-wide association study

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