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1.  BPIFB1 IS A LUNG-SPECIFIC AUTOANTIGEN ASSOCIATED WITH INTERSTITIAL LUNG DISEASE** 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(206):10.1126/scitranslmed.3006998.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a complex and heterogeneous disorder that is often associated with autoimmune syndromes (1). Despite the connection between ILD and autoimmunity, it remains unclear whether ILD can develop from an autoimmune response that specifically targets the lung parenchyma. Here, we utilized a severe form of autoimmune disease, Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome Type 1 (APS1), to establish a strong link between an autoimmune response to the lung-specific protein BPIFB1 and clinical ILD. Screening of a large cohort of APS1 patients revealed autoantibodies to BPIFB1 in 9.6% of APS1 subjects overall and in 100% of APS1 subjects with ILD. Further investigation of ILD outside the APS1 disorder revealed BPIFB1 autoantibodies specifically present in 14.6% of patients with connective tissue disease-associated ILD and in 12.0% of patients with idiopathic ILD. Utilizing the animal model for APS1 to examine the mechanism of ILD pathogenesis, we found that Aire−/− mice harbor autoantibodies to a similar lung antigen named BPIFB9 that are a marker for ILD, and determined that a defect in thymic tolerance is responsible for the production of BPIFB9 autoantibodies and the development of ILD. Importantly, we also found that immunoreactivity targeting BPIFB1 independent of a defect in Aire also leads to ILD, consistent with our discovery of BPIFB1 autoantibodies in non-APS1 patients. Overall, our results demonstrate that autoimmunity targeting the lung-specific antigen BPIFB1 may be important to the pathogenesis of ILD in patients with APS1 and in subsets of patients with non-APS1 ILD, demonstrating the role of lung-specific autoimmunity in the genesis of ILD.
doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3006998
PMCID: PMC3882146  PMID: 24107778
2.  Association of Autoimmune Addison's Disease with Alleles of STAT4 and GATA3 in European Cohorts 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e88991.
Background
Gene variants known to contribute to Autoimmune Addison's disease (AAD) susceptibility include those at the MHC, MICA, CIITA, CTLA4, PTPN22, CYP27B1, NLRP-1 and CD274 loci. The majority of the genetic component to disease susceptibility has yet to be accounted for.
Aim
To investigate the role of 19 candidate genes in AAD susceptibility in six European case-control cohorts.
Methods
A sequential association study design was employed with genotyping using Sequenom iPlex technology. In phase one, 85 SNPs in 19 genes were genotyped in UK and Norwegian AAD cohorts (691 AAD, 715 controls). In phase two, 21 SNPs in 11 genes were genotyped in German, Swedish, Italian and Polish cohorts (1264 AAD, 1221 controls). In phase three, to explore association of GATA3 polymorphisms with AAD and to determine if this association extended to other autoimmune conditions, 15 SNPs in GATA3 were studied in UK and Norwegian AAD cohorts, 1195 type 1 diabetes patients from Norway, 650 rheumatoid arthritis patients from New Zealand and in 283 UK Graves' disease patients. Meta-analysis was used to compare genotype frequencies between the participating centres, allowing for heterogeneity.
Results
We report significant association with alleles of two STAT4 markers in AAD cohorts (rs4274624: P = 0.00016; rs10931481: P = 0.0007). In addition, nominal association of AAD with alleles at GATA3 was found in 3 patient cohorts and supported by meta-analysis. Association of AAD with CYP27B1 alleles was also confirmed, which replicates previous published data. Finally, nominal association was found at SNPs in both the NF-κB1 and IL23A genes in the UK and Italian cohorts respectively.
Conclusions
Variants in the STAT4 gene, previously associated with other autoimmune conditions, confer susceptibility to AAD. Additionally, we report association of GATA3 variants with AAD: this adds to the recent report of association of GATA3 variants with rheumatoid arthritis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088991
PMCID: PMC3948621  PMID: 24614117
3.  Multisteroid LC–MS/MS assay for glucocorticoids and androgens and its application in Addison's disease 
Endocrine Connections  2013;2(3):125-136.
Objective
Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) offers superior analytical specificity compared with immunoassays, but it is not available in many regions and hospitals due to expensive instrumentation and tedious sample preparation. Thus, we developed an automated, high-throughput LC–MS/MS assay for simultaneous quantification of ten endogenous and synthetic steroids targeting diseases of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and gonads.
Methods
Deuterated internal standards were added to 85 μl serum and processed by liquid–liquid extraction. Cortisol, cortisone, prednisolone, prednisone, 11-deoxycortisol, dexamethasone, testosterone, androstenedione and progesterone were resolved by ultra-high-pressure chromatography on a reversed-phase column in 6.1 min and detected by triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry. The method was used to assess steroid profiles in women with Addison's disease (AD, n=156) and blood donors (BDs, n=102).
Results
Precisions ranged from 4.5 to 10.1% relative standard deviations (RSD), accuracies from 95 to 108% and extraction recoveries from 60 to 84%. The method was practically free of matrix effects and robust to individual differences in serum composition. Most postmenopausal AD women had extremely low androstenedione concentrations, below 0.14 nmol/l, and median testosterone concentrations of 0.15 nmol/l (interquartile range 0.00–0.41), considerably lower than those of postmenopausal BDs (1.28 nmol/l (0.96–1.64) and 0.65 nmol/l (0.56–1.10) respectively). AD women in fertile years had androstenedione concentrations of 1.18 nmol/l (0.71–1.76) and testosterone concentrations of 0.44 nmol/l (0.22–0.63), approximately half of those found in BDs of corresponding age.
Conclusion
This LC–MS/MS assay provides highly sensitive and specific assessments of glucocorticoids and androgens with low sample volumes and is suitable for endocrine laboratories and research. Its utility has been demonstrated in a large cohort of women with AD, and the data suggest that women with AD are particularly androgen deficient after menopause.
doi:10.1530/EC-13-0023
PMCID: PMC3845685  PMID: 23825158
liquid chromatography mass spectrometry; androgens; glucocorticoids; adrenal insufficiency; Addison's disease
6.  Genome-wide copy number variation (CNV) in patients with autoimmune Addison's disease 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:111.
Background
Addison's disease (AD) is caused by an autoimmune destruction of the adrenal cortex. The pathogenesis is multi-factorial, involving genetic components and hitherto unknown environmental factors. The aim of the present study was to investigate if gene dosage in the form of copy number variation (CNV) could add to the repertoire of genetic susceptibility to autoimmune AD.
Methods
A genome-wide study using the Affymetrix GeneChip® Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 was conducted in 26 patients with AD. CNVs in selected genes were further investigated in a larger material of patients with autoimmune AD (n = 352) and healthy controls (n = 353) by duplex Taqman real-time polymerase chain reaction assays.
Results
We found that low copy number of UGT2B28 was significantly more frequent in AD patients compared to controls; conversely high copy number of ADAM3A was associated with AD.
Conclusions
We have identified two novel CNV associations to ADAM3A and UGT2B28 in AD. The mechanism by which this susceptibility is conferred is at present unclear, but may involve steroid inactivation (UGT2B28) and T cell maturation (ADAM3A). Characterization of these proteins may unravel novel information on the pathogenesis of autoimmunity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-12-111
PMCID: PMC3166911  PMID: 21851588
7.  Autoimmune polyendocrine syndromes: clues to type 1 diabetes pathogenesis 
Immunity  2010;32(4):479-487.
Summary
Autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes are complex in their pathogenesis. One approach to improving our understanding of type 1 diabetes is the study of diseases that represent more extreme examples of autoimmunity. Autoimmune polyendocrine syndromes (APS) are relatively rare diseases that often include type 1 diabetes as part of the disease phenotype. Recently there has been tremendous progress in unraveling some of the underlying mechanisms of APS. Here we highlight the APS disorders with the perspective of the clues they can offer to the pathogenesis and treatment of type 1 diabetes.
doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2010.03.016
PMCID: PMC2859971  PMID: 20412758
autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome; autoantibodies; autoimmune regulator (Aire); FoxP3; type 1 diabetes mellitus; autoimmune thyroiditis; Addison's disease
8.  Chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis in APECED or thymoma patients correlates with autoimmunity to Th17-associated cytokines 
Chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (CMC) is frequently associated with T cell immunodeficiencies. Specifically, the proinflammatory IL-17A–producing Th17 subset is implicated in protection against fungi at epithelial surfaces. In autoimmune polyendocrinopathy candidiasis ectodermal dystrophy (APECED, or autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome 1), CMC is often the first sign, but the underlying immunodeficiency is a long-standing puzzle. In contrast, the subsequent endocrine features are clearly autoimmune, resulting from defects in thymic self-tolerance induction caused by mutations in the autoimmune regulator (AIRE). We report severely reduced IL-17F and IL-22 responses to both Candida albicans antigens and polyclonal stimulation in APECED patients with CMC. Surprisingly, these reductions are strongly associated with neutralizing autoantibodies to IL-17F and IL-22, whereas responses were normal and autoantibodies infrequent in APECED patients without CMC. Our multicenter survey revealed neutralizing autoantibodies against IL-17A (41%), IL-17F (75%), and/ or IL-22 (91%) in >150 APECED patients, especially those with CMC. We independently found autoantibodies against these Th17-produced cytokines in rare thymoma patients with CMC. The autoantibodies preceded the CMC in all informative cases. We conclude that IL-22 and IL-17F are key natural defenders against CMC and that the immunodeficiency underlying CMC in both patient groups has an autoimmune basis.
doi:10.1084/jem.20091669
PMCID: PMC2822605  PMID: 20123959
9.  A CLEC16A variant confers risk for juvenile idiopathic arthritis and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody negative rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(8):1471-1474.
Objective
Variants in CLEC16A have conferred susceptibility to autoimmune diseases in genome-wide association studies. The present work aimed to investigate the locus' involvements in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and further explore the association with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type 1 diabetes (T1D) and Addison's disease (AD) in the Norwegian population.
Methods
Three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in patients with RA (n=809), JIA (n=509), T1D (n=1211) and AD (n=414) and in healthy controls (n=2149).
Results
All diseases were associated with CLEC16A, but with different SNPs. The intron 22 SNP, rs6498169, was associated with RA (p=0.006) and JIA (p=0.016) and the intron 19 SNPs, rs12708716/rs12917716, with T1D (p=1×10−5) and AD (p=2×10−4). The RA association was confined to the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (anti-CCP) negative subgroup (p=2×10−4).
Conclusion
This is the first report of a CLEC16A association with JIA and a split of the RA association according to anti-CCP status. Different causative variants underlie the rheumatic versus the organ specific diseases.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.114934
PMCID: PMC2938883  PMID: 19734133
10.  Two Adults with Adrenal Myelolipoma and 21-Hydroxylase Deficiency 
Case Reports in Medicine  2009;2009:916891.
We present incidentally discovered adrenal myelolipomas in two adult males with untreated congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). The patients had simple virilizing form of CAH due to mutations in the CYP21 gene coding for 21-hydroxylase; one was heterozygous for the I172N mutation and the other compound heterozygous for the I172N and I2splice mutations. The masses were not removed since myelolipomas are considered benign tumors, and the tumor size did not increase during four- and nine-year observation periods. An adrenal myelolipoma is an important exception to the rule that large tumours should be removed. Untreated CAH with prolonged excessive ACTH stimulation might contribute to the growth of adrenal masses. CAH should be considered as a differential diagnosis of patients with adrenal masses or adrenal myelolipomas.
doi:10.1155/2009/916891
PMCID: PMC2728610  PMID: 19724639
11.  Interferon autoantibodies associated with AIRE deficiency decrease the expression of IFN-stimulated genes 
Blood  2008;112(7):2657-2666.
Neutralizing autoantibodies to type I, but not type II, interferons (IFNs) are found at high titers in almost every patient with autoimmune polyendocrinopathy candidiasis ectodermal dystrophy (APECED), a disease caused by AIRE gene mutations that lead to defects in thymic T-cell selection. Combining genome-wide expression array with real time RT-PCR assays, we here demonstrate that antibodies against IFN-α cause highly significant down-regulation of interferon-stimulated gene expression in cells from APECED patients' blood by blocking their highly dilute endogenous IFNs. This down-regulation was lost progressively as these APECED cells matured in cultures without neutralizing autoantibodies. Most interestingly, a rare APECED patient with autoantibodies to IFN-ω but not IFN-α showed a marked increase in expression of the same interferon-stimulated genes. We also report unexpected increases in serum CXCL10 levels in APECED. Our results argue that the breakdown of tolerance to IFNs in AIRE deficiency is associated with impaired responses to them in thymus, and highlight APECED as another autoimmune disease with associated dysregulation of IFN activity.
doi:10.1182/blood-2008-03-144634
PMCID: PMC2577576  PMID: 18606876
12.  Anti-Interferon Autoantibodies in Autoimmune Polyendocrinopathy Syndrome Type 1 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e289.
Background
The autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene influences thymic self-tolerance induction. In autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome type 1 (APS1; OMIM 240300), recessive AIRE mutations lead to autoimmunity targetting endocrine and other epithelial tissues, although chronic candidiasis usually appears first. Autoimmunity and chronic candidiasis can associate with thymomas as well. Patients with these tumours frequently also have high titre immunoglobulin G autoantibodies neutralising type I interferon (IFN)–α and IFN-ω, which are secreted signalling proteins of the cytokine superfamily involved in both innate and adaptive immunity.
Methods and Findings
We tested for serum autoantibodies to type I IFNs and other immunoregulatory cytokines using specific binding and neutralisation assays. Unexpectedly, in 60/60 Finnish and 16/16 Norwegian APS1 patients with both AIRE alleles mutated, we found high titre neutralising immunoglobulin G autoantibodies to most IFN-α subtypes and especially IFN-ω (60% homologous to IFN-α)—mostly in the earliest samples. We found lower titres against IFN-β (30% homologous to IFN-α) in 23% of patients; two-thirds of these (from Finland only) also had low titres against the distantly related “type III IFN” (IFN-λ1; alias interleukin-29). However, autoantibodies to the unrelated type II IFN, IFN-γ, and other immunoregulatory cytokines, such as interleukin-10 and interleukin-12, were much rarer and did not neutralise.
Neutralising titres against type I IFNs averaged even higher in patients with APS1 than in patients with thymomas. Anti–type I IFN autoantibodies preceded overt candidiasis (and several of the autoimmune disorders) in the informative patients, and persisted for decades thereafter. They were undetectable in unaffected heterozygous relatives of APS1 probands (except for low titres against IFN-λ1), in APS2 patients, and in isolated cases of the endocrine diseases most typical of APS1, so they appear to be APS1-specific.
Looking for potentially autoimmunising cell types, we found numerous IFN-α+ antigen-presenting cells—plus strong evidence of local IFN secretion—in the normal thymic medulla (where AIRE expression is strongest), and also in normal germinal centres, where it could perpetuate these autoantibody responses once initiated. IFN-α2 and IFN-α8 transcripts were also more abundant in antigen-presenting cells cultured from an APS1 patient's blood than from age-matched healthy controls.
Conclusions
These apparently spontaneous autoantibody responses to IFNs, particularly IFN-α and IFN-ω, segregate like a recessive trait; their high “penetrance” is especially remarkable for such a variable condition. Their apparent restriction to APS1 patients implies practical value in the clinic, e.g., in diagnosing unusual or prodromal AIRE-mutant patients with only single components of APS1, and possibly in prognosis if they prove to predict its onset. These autoantibody responses also raise numerous questions, e.g., about the rarity of other infections in APS1. Moreover, there must also be clues to autoimmunising mechanisms/cell types in the hierarchy of preferences for IFN-ω, IFN-α8, IFN-α2, and IFN-β and IFN-λ1.
Almost all of nearly 100 APS1 patients studied made large amounts of auto-antibodies that blocked the function of IFN-α and IFN-ω. The antibodies appeared early during development of the disease and may play a role in its etiology.
Editors' Summary
Background.
The human body is under constant attack by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, but the immune system usually prevents these pathogens from causing disease. To be effective, the immune system has to respond rapidly to foreign antigens (bits of protein specific to pathogens) while ignoring self-antigens. If tolerance to self-antigens breaks down, autoimmunity develops, often causing disease. There are many common autoimmune diseases—type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis, for example—but because these involve defects in many genes as well as environmental factors, the details of how autoimmunity develops remain unclear. Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome type 1 (APS1), however, is caused by defects in a single gene. Patients with this rare disease characteristically have defects (or mutations) in both copies of a gene called AIRE (for autoimmune regulator). In normal people, the protein product of this gene helps to establish tolerance to a subset of self-antigens. People carrying AIRE mutations make an autoimmune response against some of their own tissues, typically the endocrine (hormone-producing) tissues that control body metabolism. A major component of this autoimmune response are “autoantibodies” (antibodies are immune molecules that normally recognize and attack foreign substances, whereas autoantibodies are directed against the body's own molecules).
Why Was This Study Done?
For a diagnosis of APS1, a patient must have at least two of the following symptoms: recurrent, localized yeast infections (usually the first symptom of the disease to appear in early childhood), hypoparathyroidism (failure of the gland that controls calcium levels in the body), and Addison disease (failure of the steroid-producing adrenal glands, which help the body respond to stress). The researchers who did this study had previously noticed that these yeast infections and autoimmunity (usually against muscle) can also occur in patients with tumors of the thymus (thymomas). The thymus is the organ that generates immune cells called T cells. Generation of the T cell repertoire in the thymus involves selection of those T cells that recognize only foreign substances. T cells that can react against self-antigens are eliminated, and the AIRE gene is thought to be involved in this “education process.” Like those with APS1, patients with thymomas make autoantibodies not only against target organs (especially muscle in their case), but also against interferon alpha (IFN-α) and interferon omega (IFN-ω), two secreted immune regulators. The researchers wanted to know if patients with APS1 also make autoantibodies against interferons, because this could provide insights into how autoimmunity develops in APS1 and other autoimmune diseases.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers tested blood from nearly 100 APS1 patients for antibodies to IFN-α, IFN-ω, and other immunoregulatory cytokines. They found that almost all patients made large amounts of antibodies that blocked the function of IFN-α and IFN-ω; some also made lower amounts of antibodies against two related interferons, but none made blocking antibodies against unrelated interferons or other immune regulators. For many patients, serum samples were available at different times during their disease, which allowed the researchers to show that the antibodies appeared early in disease development, before the onset of yeast infections or damage to endocrine tissues, and their production continued for decades as the patient aged. Furthermore, only patients with APS1 made these antibodies—they were absent in patients with Addison disease alone, for example.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The discovery that autoantibodies to IFN-α and IFN-ω are made persistently in patients with APS1 suggests ways in which autoimmunity develops in these patients. These can now be investigated further both in patients and in animal models of the disease. The discovery also has practical implications. Measurement of these autoantibodies might help some APS1 patients by allowing earlier diagnosis—and prompter treatment—than in current practice. The levels of these autoantibodies might also help to predict the time course of APS1 in individual patients, although more studies will be needed to check this out. Finally, if future studies show that interferon autoantibodies are responsible for the patients' susceptibility to yeast infections (which seems plausible), treatment with IFN-γ, an interferon to which APS1 patients do not make autoantibodies, might provide an alternative way to deal with this problem.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030289.
• MedlinePlus pages on autoimmune diseases
• Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man page on APS1
• Links to patient information on APS1 from the Stanford Health Library
• Wikipedia page on autoendocrine polyendocrinopathy (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
• Information on autoimmunity from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030289
PMCID: PMC1475653  PMID: 16784312

Results 1-12 (12)