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1.  Genome-wide association studies in Sjögren’s Syndrome: what do the genes tell us about disease pathogenesis? 
Autoimmunity reviews  2014;13(7):756-761.
The pathogenesis of Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) likely involves complex interactions between genes and the environment. While the candidate gene approach has been previously used to identify several genes associated with SS, two recent large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have implicated many more loci as genetic risk factors. Of particular relevance, was the significant association of SS with additional immune-related genes including IL12A, BLK, and CXCR5. GWAS has also uncovered other loci and suggestive gene associations in SS, but none are related to genes encoding salivary or lacrimal components, secretion machinery and neuronal proteins involved in innervations of the glands, respectively. In this review, we discuss these genetic findings with particular attention paid to the genes identified, the strength of associations, and how the SS-associated genes compare to what has been discovered previously in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We also summarize the potential impact of these associated gene products on NFκB and immune pathways and describe how this new information might be integrated further for identifying clinical subsets and understanding the pathogenesis of SS.
PMCID: PMC4018829  PMID: 24657515
Autoimmune disease; Candidate genes; Genetics; Genome-wide association studies; Polymorphisms; Sjögren’s syndrome; SNP
2.  Interleukin-22: a likely target for treatment of autoimmune diseases 
Autoimmunity reviews  2014;13(6):615-620.
Interleukin -22 (IL-22) is a member of IL-10 family cytokines that is produced by many different types of lymphocytes including both those of the innate and adaptive immune system. This includes activated T cells, most notably Th17 and Th22 cells, and NK cells, γδ T cells, LTi cells and LTi-like cells. IL-22 mediates its effects via the IL-22-IL-22R complex and subsequent Janus Kinase-signal transduces and activators transcription (JAK-STAT) signaling pathway. Recently accumulated evidence has indicated that IL-22 also plays an important role in the pathogenesis of many autoimmune diseases. In this review, we discuss the recent findings and advancement of the role for IL-22 in several autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), hepatitis, graft versus host disease (GHVD) and allergic diseases, implicating that target IL-22 may have a therapeutic potential in those autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC3966954  PMID: 24418299
T-helper cell; Innate immunity; Interleukin-22; Cytokine receptor; Signal pathway; Antimicrobial immunity; Autoimmunity
3.  Development of quality indicators to evaluate the monitoring of SLE patients in routine clinical practice 
Autoimmunity reviews  2011;10(7):383-388.
The assessment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients in routine clinical practice is mainly based on the experience of the treating physician. This carries the risk of unwanted variability. Variability may have an impact on the quality of care offered to SLE patients, thereby affecting outcomes. Recommendations represent systematically developed statements to help practitioners in reducing variability. However, major difficulties arise in the application of recommendations into clinical practice. In this respect, the use of quality indicators may raise the awareness among rheumatologists regarding potential deficiencies in services and improve the quality of health care.
The aim of this study was to develop a set of quality indicators (QI) for SLE by translating into QIs the recently developed EULAR Recommendations for monitoring SLE patients in routine clinical practice and observational studies.
Eleven QIs have been developed referring to the use of validated activity and damage indices in routine clinical practice, general evaluation of drug toxicity, evaluation of comorbidities, eye evaluation, laboratory assessment, evaluation of the presence of chronic viral infections, documentation of vaccination and of antibody testing at baseline. A disease specific set of quality assessment tools should help physicians deliver high quality of care across populations. Routine updates will be needed.
PMCID: PMC4442674  PMID: 21224016
Quality indicators; Quality of care; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Routine clinical practice
4.  Idiopathic Inflammatory Myopathies and the Anti-Synthetase Syndrome: A Comprehensive Review 
Autoimmunity reviews  2014;13(0):367-371.
Autoantibodies are a hallmark in the diagnosis of many systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARD) including idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM). Based on their specificity, autoantibodies in IIM are grouped into myositis specific (MSA) and myositis associated autoantibodies (MAA). Among the MSA, autoantibodies against aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARS) represent the most common antibodies and can be detected in 25–35 % of patients. The presence of ARS and other autoantibodies have become a key feature for classification and diagnosis of IIM and are increasingly used to define clinically distinguishable IIM subsets. For example, anti-ARS autoantibodies are the key features of what has become known as anti-synthetase syndrome (aSS), characterized by multiple organ involvement, primarily interstitial lung disease, often accompanied by myositis, non-erosive arthritis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, fever, and “mechanic’s hands”. Autoantibodies directed to eight different ARS have been described: Jo-1 (histidyl), PL-7 (threonyl), PL-12 (alanyl), OJ (isoleucyl), EJ (glycyl), KS (asparaginyl), Zo (phenylalanyl) and Ha (tyrosyl). Each anti-ARS antibody seems to define a distinctive clinical phenotype. Although several research methods and commercial tests are available, routine testing for anti-ARS autoantibodies (other than anti-Jo-1/histidyl-tRNA synthetase) is not widely available, sometimes leading to delays in diagnosis and poor disease outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3970575  PMID: 24424190
autoantibodies; myositis; immunoassay; Jo-1; synthetase
5.  The Diagnosis of Primary Biliary Cirrhosis 
Autoimmunity reviews  2014;13(0):441-444.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic liver disease characterized by the immune mediated destruction of small intrahepatic bile duct epithelial cells leading to cholestasis and cirrhosis. The autoimmune basis of PBC is supported by the highly specific anti-mitochondrial antibodies (AMA) and autoreactive T cells, the former being the basis for diagnosis in the vast majority of cases. Although a rare disease, the incidence rates of PBC have been increasing, possibly due to increased testing and diagnosis as opposed to a true increase in disease incidence. Presently, most cases are asymptomatic and only suspected based upon routine liver tests. Those with symptoms typically complain of pruritus and fatigue. The diagnosis of PBC is based on the presence of at least 2 of 3 key criteria including a persistently elevated serum alkaline phosphatase, the presence of serum AMA, and liver histology consistent with PBC. Anti-nuclear antibodies specific to PBC are useful in cases in which AMA are not detected and may indicate a more aggressive course. Ursodeoxycholic acid is the only proven therapy for PBC and in most cases can delay or prevent disease progression. However, a subgroup of patients does not adequately respond to ursodeoxycholic acid and for whom new therapies are needed.
PMCID: PMC3987745  PMID: 24424173
Primary biliary cirrhosis; anti-mitochondrial antibody; anti-nuclear antibody; diagnosis; epidemiology
6.  The IL-23/IL-17 Axis in Psoriatic Arthritis 
Autoimmunity reviews  2014;13(0):496-502.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an immune-mediated chronic inflammatory disease, affecting both the skin and joints. Disease progression is associated with aberrant cytokine expression, and TNF blockade is the most successful therapy to date. However, not all patients are responsive to anti-TNF treatment, highlighting the need to better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern the disease. PsA associations with single nucleotide polymorphisms in IL23R as well as TRAF3IP2 (Act1), a molecule downstream of the IL-17 receptor (IL-17R), have linked the IL-23/IL-17 axis to disease pathology. Although both cytokines are implicated in PsA, a full picture of their cellular targets and pathogenic mechanisms has not yet emerged. In this review, we focus on the IL-23/IL-17 axis-elicited responses mediated by osteoclasts, keratinocytes and neutrophils. Expanding our understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms that dictate pathogenicity in PsA will contribute to developing novel treatment strategies to combat disease.
PMCID: PMC3995976  PMID: 24424175
IL-17; IL-23; psoriatic arthritis; NF-κB
7.  The Association between Silica Exposure and Development of ANCA-Associated Vasculitis: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis 
Autoimmunity reviews  2013;12(12):1129-1135.
Crystalline silica is among the environmental exposures associated with increased risk of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Silica exposure has also been related to the development of ANCA-associated vasculitides (AAV), but past studies appear to conflict as to the presence and magnitude of the associated risks of disease. We aimed to conduct a systematic review of the existing studies and meta-analysis of their results.
We searched EMBASE, MEDLINE and international scientific conference abstract databases for studies examining the association of silica exposure with AAV. Studies in English, French, or Spanish were included and those examining the association of silica with ANCA-positivity alone were excluded. We assessed study quality using the Newcastle-Ottawa scale. We meta-analyzed the results using random effects models and tested for heterogeneity. We performed sensitivity and subgroup analyses, examining studies that adjusted for smoking and occupational risk factors as well as studies that analyzed by subtypes of AAV.
We identified 158 potential manuscripts and 3 abstracts related to silica exposure and risk of AAV. 147 were excluded after abstract review and 14 underwent detailed evaluation of full manuscript/abstract. After further application of exclusion criteria, 6 studies (all case-controls) remained. The studies had moderate heterogeneity in selection of cases and controls, exposure assessment, disease definition and controlling for potential confounders. We found an overall significant summary effect estimate of silica “ever exposure” with development of AAV (summary OR 2.56, 95% CI 1.51- 4.36), with moderate heterogeneity (I2=48.40%). ORs were similar for studies examining only MPA (OR 3.95, CI 95% 1.89-8.24), compared to those only studying GPA (OR 3.56, CI 95% 1.85-6.82).
Despite moderate heterogeneity among studies, the totality of the evidence after meta-analysis points to an association between silica exposure and risk for developing AAV.
PMCID: PMC4086751  PMID: 23820041
Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies; ANCA-associated vasculitides; Silica; Meta-analysis
8.  Using immunoproteomics to identify tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) as biomarkers in cancer immunodiagnosis 
Autoimmunity reviews  2013;12(12):1123-1128.
Since intracellular proteins involved in carcinogenesis have been shown to provoke autoantibody responses, autoantibodies can be used as probes in immunoproteomics to isolate, identify, and characterize potential tumor-associated antigens (TAAs). Once a TAA is identified, several approaches will be used to comprehensively characterize and validate the identified TAA/anti-TAA systems that are potential biomarkers in certain types of cancer. Our ultimate goal is to establish rigorous criteria for designation of an autoantibody to a TAA as a cancer biomarker, examine candidate TAAs for sensitivity and specificity of anti-TAA antibody response, and further develop customized TAA arrays that can be used to enhance anti-TAA antibody detection in cancer. This review will mainly focus on the recent advances in our studies using immunoproteomic approach to identify and characterize TAAs as biomarkers in cancer.
PMCID: PMC3789855  PMID: 23806562
autoantibody; tumor-associated antigen; immunoproteomics; immunodiagnosis; cancer
Autoimmunity reviews  2013;12(11):1046-1051.
The etiology and pathogenesis of human autoimmune diseases remain unknown despite intensive investigations. Although remarkable progress has been accomplished through genome wide association studies in the identification of genetic factors that may predispose to their occurrence or modify their clinical presentation to date no specific gene abnormalities have been conclusively demonstrated to be responsible for these diseases. The completion of the human and chimpanzee genome sequencing has opened up novel opportunities to examine the possible contribution of human specific genes and other regulatory elements unique to the human genome, such as microRNAs and non-coding RNAs, towards the pathogenesis of a variety of human disorders. Thus, it is likely that these human specific genes and non-coding regulatory elements may be involved in the development or the pathogenesis of various disorders that do not occur in non-human primates including certain autoimmune diseases such as Systemic Sclerosis and Primary Sjögren's Syndrome. Here, we discuss recent evidence supporting the notion that human specific genes or human specific microRNA and other non-coding RNA regulatory elements unique to the human genome may participate in the development or in the pathogenesis of Systemic Sclerosis and Primary Sjögren's Syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3771096  PMID: 23684698
Human specific genes; microRNAs; Non-coding RNA; Autoimmune diseases; Systemic Sclerosis; Sjögren's Syndrome
10.  Immunotherapeutic strategies in autoimmune uveitis 
Autoimmunity Reviews  2014;13(9):909-916.
Autoimmune uveitis is an organ-specific disorder characterized by irreversible lesions to the eye that predominantly affect people in their most productive years and is among the leading causes of visual deficit and blindness. Currently available therapies are effective in the treatment of a wide spectrum of uveitis, but are often associated with severe side effects. Here, we review ongoing research with promising immunomodulatory therapeutic strategies, describing their specific features, interactions and the responses triggered by the targeted immune molecules that aim to minimize clinical complications and the likelihood of disease relapse. We first review the main features of the disease, diagnostic tools, and traditional forms of therapy, as well as the animal models predominantly used to understand the pathogenesis and test the novel intervention approaches aiming to control the acute immune and inflammatory responses and to dampen chronic responses. Both exploratory research and clinical trials have targeted either the blockade of effector pathways or of their companion co-stimulatory molecules. Examples of targets are T cell receptors (CD3), their co-stimulatory receptors (CD28, CTLA-4) and corresponding ligands (B7-1 and B7-2, also known as CD80 and CD86), and cytokines like IL-2 and their receptors. Here, we summarize the available evidence on effectiveness of these treatments in human and experimental uveitis and highlight a novel CD28 antagonist monovalent Fab′ antibody, FR104, which has shown preclinical efficacy suppressing effector T cells while enhancing regulatory T cell function and immune tolerance in a humanized graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) mice model and is currently being tested in a mouse autoimmune uveitis model with encouraging results.
PMCID: PMC4181827  PMID: 24833504
Autoimmune uveitis; Experimental autoimmune uveitis; Costimulation blockade; Immune modulation; CD28 antagonists
11.  Interaction between glutathione and Apoptosis in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
Autoimmunity reviews  2012;12(7):741-751.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is characterized by imbalance redox state and increased apoptosis. The activation, proliferation and cell death of lymphocytes are dependent on intracellular levels of glutathione and controlled production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Changes in the intracellular redox environment of cells, through oxygen-derived free radical production known as oxidative stress, have been reported to be critical for cellular immune dysfunction, activation of apoptotic enzymes and apoptosis. The shift in the cellular GSH-to-GSSG redox balance in favor of the oxidized species, GSSG, constitutes an important signal that can decide the fate of the abnormal apoptosis in the disease. The current review will focus on four main areas: (1) general description of oxidative stress markers in SLE, (2) alteration of redox state and complication of disease (3) role of redox mechanisms in the initiation and execution phases of apoptosis, and (4) intracellular glutathione and its checkpoints with lymphocyte apoptosis represent novel targets for pharmacological intervention in SLE.
PMCID: PMC3625500  PMID: 23279845
Reactive oxygen species; redox state; apoptosis; glutathione; systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
12.  Fibrosis in systemic sclerosis: Emerging concepts and implications for targeted therapy 
Autoimmunity reviews  2010;10(5):267-275.
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a complex and incompletely understood disease associated with fibrosis in multiple organs. Recent findings identify transforming growth factor-ß (TGF-ß), Wnt ligands, toll-like receptor-mediated signaling, hypoxia, type I interferon, type 2 immune responses and mechanical stress as extracellular cues that modulate fibroblast function and differentiation, and as potential targets for therapy. Moreover, fibrillin-1 has a major role in storing and regulating the bioavailability of TGF-ß and other cytokines, and fibrillin-1 mutations are implicated in a congenital form of scleroderma called stiff skin syndrome. Fibrosis is due not only to the activation of tissue-resident fibroblasts and their transdifferentiation into myofibroblasts, but also the differentiation of bone marrow-derived fibrocytes, and transition of endothelial and epithelial cells, pericytes and adipocytes into activated mesenchymal cells. These responses are modulated by signaling mediators and microRNAs that amplify or inhibit TGF-ß and Wnt signaling. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function abnormalities of these mediators may account for the characteristic activated phenotype of SSc fibroblasts. The nuclear orphan receptor PPAR-γ plays a particularly important role in limiting the duration and intensity of fibroblast activation and differentiation, and impaired PPAR-γ expression or function in SSc may underlie the uncontrolled progression of fibrosis.
Identifying the perturbations in signaling pathways, mediators and differentiation programs that are responsible for SSc tissue damage allows their selective targeting. This in turn opens the door for therapies utilizing novel compounds, or drug repurposing by innovative uses of already-approved drugs. In view of the heterogeneous clinical presentation and unpredictable course of SSc, as well as its complex pathogenesis, only robust clinical trials incorporating the judicious application of biomarkers will be able to clarify the clinical utility of these innovative approaches.
PMCID: PMC3998379  PMID: 20863909
Fibrosis; Systemic sclerosis; Fibroblast; TGF-ß; Wnt; Collagen
13.  Chipping away at a mountain: Genomic studies in Common Variable Immunodeficiency 
Autoimmunity reviews  2012;12(6):687-689.
Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) represents one of the most frequently diagnosed disorders of the immune system. Though several causative and associated genes have been identified, the origins of most cases remain unknown. Diagnostic delay is common due to the gradual evolution and wide spectrum of phenotypes, which can include autoimmune disease, enteropathy, and lung disease. A recent genome wide array identified novel gene associations with CVID, and also showed that identification of a genetic signature via a Support Vector Machine algorithm may be a powerful diagnostic tool. Studies utilizing whole genome or exome sequencing have also met with success in identifying new causes of CVID in subgroups of patients.
PMCID: PMC3604038  PMID: 23201919
Immunodeficiency; immunoglobulin; genome
14.  Gene Network Analysis of Small Molecules with Autoimmune Disease Associated Genes Predicts a Novel Strategy for Drug Efficacy 
Autoimmunity reviews  2012;12(4):510-522.
Numerous genes/SNPs in autoimmune diseases (ADs) are identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and likely to contribute in developing autoimmune phenotypes. Constructions of biologically meaningful pathways are necessary to determine how these genes interact each other and with other small molecules to develop various complex ADs phenotypes prior to beginning time-consuming rigorous experimentation. We have constructed biological pathways with genetically identified genes leading to shared ADs phenotypes. Various environmental and endogenous factors interact with these ADs associated genes suggesting their critical role in developing diseases and further association studies could be designed for assessing the role of these factors with risk allele in a specific gene. Additionally, existing drugs that have been used long before the identification of these genetically associated genes also interact with these newly associated genes. Thus advanced therapeutic strategies could be designed by grouping patients with risk allele(s) in particular genes that directly or closely interact with the specified drugs. This drug-susceptible gene network will not only increase our understanding about the additional molecular basis for effectiveness against these diseases but also which drug could be more effective for those patients carrying risk allele(s) in that gene. Additionally, we have also identified several interlinking genes in the pathways that could be used for designing future association studies.
PMCID: PMC3577986  PMID: 23000205
15.  Malignancies in systemic lupus erythematosus 
Autoimmunity reviews  2009;9(4):10.1016/j.autrev.2009.07.004.
The purpose of this review is to underline important advancements in the understanding of cancer risks in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In SLE, there is an increased risk of specific kinds of malignancy. For example, the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is increased several-fold in SLE versus the general population. In addition, heightened risks for lung cancer, thyroid cancer and cervical dysplasia in SLE have been found. Some have postulated that immunosuppressive drugs play a role, as well as other important mediators, such as lupus disease activity itself. One new frontier being explored is the significant finding of a decreased risk of certain nonhematologic cancers (e.g., breast, ovarian, endometrial and prostate) in SLE. The reasons for this are currently under study.
PMCID: PMC3880771  PMID: 19643208
cancer; immunosuppressive drug; malignancy; risk; systemic lupus erythematosus
16.  Primary Biliary Cirrhosis and the Nuclear Pore Complex 
Autoimmunity reviews  2012;11(12):898-902.
Experimental models of autoimmune diseases have led to the conclusion that an immune response to nuclear antigens is a sentinel marker for loss of tolerance and potential tissue damage. Various proteins are targets of antinuclear antibodies in a variety of autoimmune diseases, ranging from systemic rheumatologic disorders to diseases affecting specific organs such as the liver. Autoantibodies against specific nuclear constituents have also been used as probes to understand the structure and the function of the targeted components and their relevance to disease pathogenesis. Approximately a quarter of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) have antibodies targeting proteins of the nuclear pore complex (NPC), a multi-protein structure that mediates molecular transport across the nuclear envelope. Autoantibodies against the integral membrane glycoprotein gp210 and nucleoporin p62 appear to be highly specific for PBC, an autoimmune disease characterized by progressive destruction of intrahepatic biliary epithelial cells. This review discusses the diagnostic and clinical relevance of anti-NPC antibodies in PBC and the possibility that this autoimmune response may arise as a result of molecular mimicry.
PMCID: PMC3396748  PMID: 22487189
autoantibody; autoantigen; autoimmunity; nuclear envelope; nuclear pore complex; nucleoporin; primary biliary cirrhosis
17.  Effective treatment of rat adjuvant-induced arthritis by celastrol 
Autoimmunity reviews  2012;11(12):856-862.
We have previously reported an increase in interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-17 levels, and a continuous activation of caspase-1 in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. These results suggest that drugs targeting IL-1β regulatory pathways, in addition to tumor necrosis factor (TNF), may constitute promising therapeutic agents in early RA. We have recently used a THP-1 macrophage-like cell line to screen 2320 compounds for those that down-regulate both IL-1β and TNF secretion. Celastrol was one of the most promising therapeutic candidates identified in that study. Our main goal in the present work was to investigate whether administration of celastrol is able to attenuate inflammation in a rat model of adjuvant-induced arthritis (AIA). Moreover, since IL-1β is known to play a role in the polarization of Th17 cells, we also investigate whether administration of digoxin, a specific inhibitor of Th17 cells polarization, is able to attenuate inflammation in the same rat model. We found that celastrol administration significantly suppressed joint inflammation. The histological and immunohistochemical evaluation revealed that celastrol-treated rats had a normal joint structure with complete abrogation of the inflammatory infiltrate and cellular proliferation. In contrast, we observed that digoxin administration significantly ameliorated inflammation but only if administrated in the early phase of disease course (after 4 days of disease induction), and it was not efficient at inhibiting the infiltration of immune cells within the joint and in preventing damage. Thus, our results suggest that celastrol has significant anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties and can constitute a potential anti-inflammatory drug with therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases such as RA. Furthermore, we find that early inhibition of Th17 cells polarization ameliorates arthritis but it is not as effective as celastrol.
PMCID: PMC3582326  PMID: 22415021
Celastrol; Digoxin; Wistar AIA rat model; IL-1β; Caspase-1; Th17 cells
Autoimmunity reviews  2012;11(11):787-789.
Receptor editing is the process that replaces the heavy chain or light chain variable region genes in a B-cell immunoglobulin receptor that is already productively rearranged. It is a major mechanism in the bone marrow for maintaining B-cell tolerance to autoantigens. We propose that a pathological autoimmune process can use receptor editing to induce the de novo creation and activation of B cells with autoreactive receptors in the peripheral immune system.
PMCID: PMC3382035  PMID: 22349618
receptor editing; autoimmunity; B cell; autoreactivity
Autoimmunity reviews  2009;9(2):113-116.
Thyrotropin receptor autoantibodies (TSHR-Abs) of the stimulating variety are the hallmark of Graves’ disease. The presence of immune defects leading to synthesis of TSHR-Abs causes hyperthyroidism and is associated with other extrathyroidal manifestations. Further characterization of these antibodies has now been made possible by the generation of monoclonal antibodies with this unique stimulating capacity as well as similar TSHR-Abs not associated with hyperthyroidism. Their present classification divides TSHR-Abs into stimulating, blocking (competing with TSH binding) and neutral (no signaling). Recent studies using monoclonal TSHR-Abs has revealed that stimulating and blocking antibodies bind to the receptor using mostly conformational epitopes, whilst neutral antibodies utilize exclusively linear peptides. Subtle differences in epitopes for stimulating and blocking antibodies account for the diversity of their biological actions. Recently non-classical signaling elicited by neutral antibodies has also been described, raising the need for a new classification of TSHR-Abs.
PMCID: PMC3753030  PMID: 19332151
thyroid autoimmunity; TSH receptor; Graves’ disease; TSHR antibodies; antibody epitopes; signal transduction
20.  Genes, Tolerance and Systemic Autoimmunity 
Autoimmunity Reviews  2011;11(9):664-669.
The characterization of functional CD8+ inhibitory or regulatory T cells and their gene regulation remains a critical challenge in the field of tolerance and autoimmunity. Investigating the genes induced in regulatory cells and the regulatory networks and pathways that underlie mechanisms of immune resistance and prevent apoptosis in the CD8+ T cell compartment are crucial to understanding tolerance mechanisms in systemic autoimmunity. Little is currently known about the genetic control that governs the ability of CD8+ Ti or regulatory cells to suppress anti-DNA Ab production in B cells. Silencing genes with siRNA or shRNA and overexpression of genes with lentiviral cDNA transduction are established approaches to identifying and understanding the function of candidate genes in tolerance and immunity. Elucidation of interactions between genes and proteins, and their synergistic effects in establishing cell-cell cross talk, including receptor modulation/antagonism, are essential for delineating the roles of these cells. In this review, we will examine recent reports which describe the modulation of cells from lupus prone mice or lupus patients to confer anti-inflammatory and protective gene expression and novel associated phenotypes. We will highlight recent findings on the role of selected genes induced by peptide tolerance in CD8+ Ti.
PMCID: PMC3306516  PMID: 22155015
Autoimmunity; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; CD8+ Treg; Genes and Tolerance
21.  Progesterone and Autoimmune Disease 
Autoimmunity reviews  2011;11(6-7):A502-A514.
Sexual dimorphism in human immune systems is most apparent in the female predominance of certain autoimmune diseases (ADs) like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Epidemiologic, observational and experimental evidence strongly suggest sex steroids are important modulators of genetic risk in human AD. In this regard, the roles of progesterone (Pg), an immunomodulatory female sex steroid, are poorly understood. Several lines of investigation indicate Pg and synthetic progestins impact risk of AD and immune-mediated injury in different ways depending on their concentrations and their engagement of various Pg receptors expressed in immune organs, immune cells or tissues targeted by immune attack. At low physiologic levels, Pg may enhance interferon-alpha (IFN-α) pathways important in SLE pathogenesis. Commonly used synthetic progestins may have the opposite effect. At pregnancy levels, Pg may suppress disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and multiple sclerosis (MS) via inhibition of T helper type 1 (Th1) and Th17 pathways and induction of anti-inflammatory molecules. Importantly, Pg’s immunomodulatory effects differ from those of estrogens and androgens. An additional layer of complexity arises from apparent interdependence of sex hormone signaling pathways. Identifying mechanisms by which Pg and other sex steroids modulate risk of AD and immune-mediated injury will require clarification of their cellular and molecular targets in vivo. These future studies should be informed by recent genetic discoveries in human AD, particularly those revealing their sex-specific genetic associations.
PMCID: PMC3431799  PMID: 22193289
progesterone; autoimmunity; sex hormones; sex steroids; systemic lupus erythematosus; SLE
22.  Evaluation of genetic association between an ITGAM non-synonymous SNP (rs1143679) and multiple autoimmune diseases 
Autoimmunity Reviews  2011;11(4):276-280.
Many autoimmune diseases (ADs) share similar underlying pathology and have a tendency to cluster within families, supporting the involvement of shared susceptibility genes. To date, most of the genetic variants associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility also show association with others ADs. ITGAM and its associated ‘predisposing’ variant (rs1143679, Arg77His), predicted to alter the tertiary structures of the ligand-binding domain of ITGAM, may play a key role for SLE pathogenesis. The aim of this study is to examine whether the ITGAM variant is also associated with other ADs. We evaluated case-control association between rs1143679 and ADs (N=18,457) including primary Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, celiac disease, and type-1 diabetes. We also performed meta-analyses using our data in addition to available published data. Although the risk allele ‘A’ is relatively more frequent among cases for each disease, it was not significantly associated with any other ADs tested in this study. However, the meta-analysis for systemic sclerosis was associated with rs1143679 (pmeta=0.008). In summary, this study explored the role of ITGAM in general autoimmunity in seven non-lupus ADs, and only found association for systemic sclerosis when our results were combined with published results. Thus ITGAM may not be a general autoimmunity gene but this variant may be specifically associated with SLE and systemic sclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3224188  PMID: 21840425
ITGAM; autoimmune diseases; genetic susceptibility
23.  The Genomics of Autoimmune Disease in the Era of Genome-Wide Association Studies and Beyond 
Autoimmunity Reviews  2011;11(4):267-275.
Recent advances in the field of genetics have dramatically changed our understanding of autoimmune disease. Candidate gene and, more recently, genome-wide association (GWA) studies have led to an explosion in the number of loci and pathways known to contribute to autoimmune phenotypes. Since the 1970s, researchers have known that several alleles in the MHC region play a role in the pathogenesis of many autoimmune diseases. More recent work has identified numerous risk loci involving both the innate and adaptive immune responses. However, much remains to be learned about the heritability of autoimmune conditions. Most regions found through GWA scans have yet to isolate the association to the causal allele(s) responsible for conferring disease risk. A role for rare variants (allele frequencies of <1%) has begun to emerge. Future research will use next generation sequencing (NGS) technology to comprehensively evaluate the human genome for risk variants. Whole transcriptome sequencing is now possible, which will provide much more detailed gene expression data. The dramatic drop in the cost and time required to sequence the entire human genome will ultimately make it possible for this technology to be used as a clinical diagnostic tool.
PMCID: PMC3288956  PMID: 22001415
Genetics; Genomics; Genome-wide association study; Autoimmune disease
24.  Therapeutic implications of autoimmune vitiligo T cells 
Autoimmunity reviews  2006;5(7):486-492.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease presenting with progressive loss of skin pigmentation. The disease strikes 1% of the world population, generally during teenage years. The progressive loss of melanocytes from depigmenting vitiligo skin is accompanied by cellular infiltrates containing both CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes. Infiltrating cytotoxic T cells with high affinity T cell receptors have likely escaped clonal deletion in the thymus, allowing such T cells to enter the circulation. Through the expression of CLA, these T cells home to the skin where they express type 1-cytokine profiles and mediate melanocyte apoptosis via the granzyme/perforin pathway. T cells found juxtapositionally apposed to remaining melanocytes can be isolated from the skin. Vitiligo T cells have demonstrated reactivity to antigens previously recognized as target antigens for T cells infiltrating melanoma tumors. In a comparison to existing melanoma-derived T cells, vitiligo T cells displayed superior reactivity towards melanoma cells. It is thought that genes encoding the TCRs expressed by vitiligo skin infiltrating T cells can be cloned and expressed in melanoma T cells, thereby generating a pool of circulating T cells with high affinity for their targets that can re-direct the immune response towards the tumor.
PMCID: PMC3462656  PMID: 16920575
Melanocytes; T cells; T cell avidity; T cell receptors; Melanosomes; Antigen presentation
25.  Liver stem cell-derived β-cell surrogates for treatment of type 1 diabetes☆ 
Autoimmunity reviews  2005;5(6):409-413.
Consistent with the common embryonic origin of liver and pancreas as well the similar glucose-sensing systems in hepatocytes and pancreatic β-cells, it should not be surprising that liver stem cells/hepatocytes can transdifferentiate into insulin-producing cells under high-glucose culture conditions or by genetic reprogramming. Persistent expression of the pancreatic duodenal homeobox-1 (Pdx1) transcription factor or its super-active form Pdx1-VP16 fusion protein in hepatic cells reprograms these cells into pancreatic β-cell precursors. In vitro culture at elevated glucose concentrations or in vivo exposure to a hyperglycemia are required for further differentiation and maturation of liver-derived pancreatic β-cell precursor into functional insulin-producing pancreatic β-like cells. Under appropriate conditions, multiple pancreatic transcription factors can work in concert to reprogram liver stem/adult liver cells into functional insulin-producing cells. If such autologous liver-derived insulin-producing cells can be made to escape the type 1 diabetes-associated autoimmunity, they may serve as a valuable cell source for future cell replacement therapy without the need for life-long immunosuppression.
PMCID: PMC3414536  PMID: 16890895

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