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2.  Restrictive IgG antibody response against mutated citrullinated vimentin predicts response to rituximab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Antibodies against mutated citrullinated vimentin (AMCV) represent a useful diagnostic marker with correlation to disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Since seropositivity for citrullinated autoantibodies was predictive for response to B-cell depleting therapy (BCDT) with rituximab (RTX), we investigated whether differences in antibody fine reactivity and immunoglobulin (Ig) isotype kinetics among AMCV-positive patients could provide additional information about outcome.
A total of 50 AMCV IgG-positive RA patients (RTX responders (RRs) n = 37 and non-responders (NRRs) n = 13) were analyzed for reactivity against MCV epitopes and co-existent AMCV isotypes IgM and IgA. Antibody titers were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at baseline and 24 weeks after the first cycle of RTX, and compared to kinetics of rheumatoid factor (RF) and antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptide (ACCP).
Recognized MCV epitopes by AMCV IgG of RRs and NRRs showed similar baseline patterns, with reducing reactivity in RRs and unchanged or even expanding reactivity in NRRs upon RTX treatment. At baseline, RRs were more frequently negative for AMCV subtypes, especially for IgA (68 %), compared to NRRs (31 %). Being AMCV IgA-negative at baseline indicated a good treatment response to RTX (negative predictive value = 0.86). Co-existence of AMCV IgA and IgG with stable titers upon treatment were associated with poorer responses to RTX. Furthermore, reductions of AMCV IgA levels upon RTX correlated with the improvement of 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28). In comparison, subtypes of RF and ACCP were not of additional value for prediction of RTX response.
Restrictive IgG seropositivity against MCV with treatment-associated decline in fine reactivity and titers was predictive for response to RTX. Double-positivity for AMCV IgG and IgA was associated with failure to respond to BCDT, suggesting a pathogenetic and less sensitive IgA-producing B-cell subset in NRRs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0717-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4535682  PMID: 26268352
3.  Active systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with a reduced cytokine production by B cells in response to TLR9 stimulation 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease associated with a break in self-tolerance reflected by a production of antinuclear autoantibodies. Since autoantibody production can be activated via nucleic acid Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), the respective pathway has been implicated in the development of SLE and pathogenic B cell responses. However, the response of B cells from SLE patients to TLR9 stimulation remains incompletely characterized.
In the current study, the response of B cells from SLE patients and healthy donors upon TLR9 stimulation was analyzed in terms of proliferation and cytokine production and correlated with the lupus disease activity and anti-dsDNA titers.
B cells from SLE patients showed a reduced response to TLR9 agonist compared to B cells from healthy donors in terms of proliferation and activation. B cells from SLE patients with higher disease activity produced less interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, vascular endothelial growth factor, and IL-1ra than B cells from healthy donors. Further analyses revealed an inverse correlation of cytokines produced by TLR9-stimulated B cells with lupus disease activity and anti-dsDNA titer, respectively.
The capacity of B cells from lupus patients to produce cytokines upon TLR9 engagement becomes less efficient with increasing disease activity, suggesting that they either enter an exhausted state or become tolerant to TLR stimulation for cytokine production when disease worsens.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0477-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4247768  PMID: 25385499
4.  Rituximab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in routine practice (GERINIS): six-year results from a prospective, multicentre, non-interventional study in 2,484 patients 
The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of rituximab (RTX) in a large cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis in routine care, and to monitor changes in daily practice since the introduction of RTX therapy.
This was a multicentre, prospective, non-interventional study conducted under routine practice conditions in Germany. Efficacy was evaluated using Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) and Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI). Safety was assessed by recording adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Physician and patient global efficacy and tolerability assessments were also evaluated.
Overall, 2,484 patients (76.7% female, mean age 56.4 years, mean disease duration 11.7 years) received RTX treatment (22.7% monotherapy). The total observation period was approximately six-years (median follow-up 14.7 months). RTX treatment led to improvements in DAS28 and HAQ-DI that were sustained over multiple courses. DAS28 improvements positively correlated with higher rheumatoid factor levels up to 50 IU/ml. Response and tolerability were rated good/very good by the majority of physicians and patients. Mean treatment intervals were 10.5 and 6.8 months for the first and last 400 enrolled patients, respectively. Infections were the most frequently reported ADRs (9.1%; 11.39/100 patient-years); approximately 1% of patients per course discontinued therapy due to ADRs.
Prolonged RTX treatment in routine care is associated with good efficacy and tolerability, as measured by conventional parameters and by physicians’ and patients’ global assessments. Rheumatoid factor status served as a distinct and quantitative biomarker of RTX responsiveness. With growing experience, physicians repeated treatments earlier in patients with less severe disease activity.
PMCID: PMC4060207  PMID: 24670196
5.  Safety and effectiveness of adalimumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis over 5 years of therapy in a phase 3b and subsequent postmarketing observational study 
Patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who had failed at least one disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) were treated with adalimumab (ADA) in the ReAct study with the option to continue treatment for 5 years in ReAlise. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the long-term safety and effectiveness of ADA as prescribed from the first injection in ReAct to the last observation in ReAlise.
Patients received ADA alone or in combination with DMARDs according to usual clinical care practices. Adverse events (AEs) were tabulated by five time windows after the first ADA injection. Effectiveness measures included achievement of low disease activity (LDA), defined as Simplified Disease Activity Index (SDAI) ≤11, or remission, (REM), defined as SDAI ≤3.3.
Of the 6,610 ReAct patients, 3,435 (52%) continued in ReAlise. At baseline in ReAct, mean age was 54 years, mean DAS28 was 6.0 and mean HAQ DI was 1.64. The mean treatment duration was 1,016 days, representing 18,272 patient-years (PYs) of ADA exposure. Overall incidence rates of serious AEs and serious infections were 13.8 and 2.8 events (E)/100 PYs, respectively. Serious AEs occurred most frequently in the first 6 months and deceased thereafter. Standardised mortality ratio was 0.71 (95% CI 0.57 to 0.87) and standardised incidence ratio for malignancies was 0.64 (95% CI 0.53 to 0.76). LDA was achieved by 50% and REM by 21% of patients at last observation.
Results of this large observational study of ADA in routine clinical practice were consistent with controlled trials, with no new safety concerns during a follow-up of more than 5 years. Effectiveness of ADA was maintained during long-term observation.
Trial registration
NCT00448383, NCT00234884
PMCID: PMC3979145  PMID: 24460746
6.  The anti-CD74 humanized monoclonal antibody, milatuzumab, which targets the invariant chain of MHC II complexes, alters B-cell proliferation, migration, and adhesion molecule expression 
Targeting CD74 as the invariant chain of major histocompatibility complexes (MHC) became possible by the availability of a specific humanized monoclonal antibody, milatuzumab, which is under investigation in patients with hematological neoplasms. CD74 has been reported to regulate chemo-attractant migration of macrophages and dendritic cells, while the role of CD74 on peripheral naïve and memory B cells also expressing CD74 remains unknown. Therefore, the current study addressed the influence of milatuzumab on B-cell proliferation, chemo-attractant migration, and adhesion molecule expression.
Surface expression of CD74 on CD27- naïve and CD27+ memory B cells as well as other peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from normals, including the co-expression of CD44, CXCR4, and the adhesion molecules CD62L, β7-integrin, β1-integrin and CD9 were studied after binding of milatuzumab using multicolor flow cytometry. The influence of the antibody on B-cell proliferation and migration was analyzed in vitro in detail.
In addition to monocytes, milatuzumab also specifically bound to human peripheral B cells, with a higher intensity on CD27+ memory versus CD27- naïve B cells. The antibody reduced B-cell proliferation significantly but moderately, induced enhanced spontaneous and CXCL12-dependent migration together with changes in the expression of adhesion molecules, CD44, β7-integrin and CD62L, mainly of CD27- naïve B cells. This was independent of macrophage migration-inhibitory factor as a ligand of CD74/CD44 complexes.
Milatuzumab leads to modestly reduced proliferation, alterations in migration, and adhesion molecule expression preferentially of CD27- naïve B cells. It thus may be a candidate antibody for the autoimmune disease therapy by modifying B cell functions.
PMCID: PMC3446420  PMID: 22404985
7.  Kitasato symposium 2010: new prospects for cytokines 
The Second Kitasato Symposium: New Prospects for Cytokines brought together researchers and rheumatologists to consider the essential role of cytokines in health and their contributions to autoimmunity. Topics addressed during the Symposium - which was held in Berlin, Germany from 27 to 29 May 2010 - included established and new cytokine targets in arthritis and autoimmunity and innovative aspects of osteoimmunology as well as current perspectives from translational and clinical studies. The keynote lecture, delivered by George Kollias, focused on insights gained from animal models into the mechanisms of TNF function in chronic inflammation and autoimmunity. The presentations at the Symposium resulted in productive discussions regarding potential new targets for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders.
PMCID: PMC3046527  PMID: 21235827
8.  The association between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease 
Chronic, plaque-associated inflammation of the gingiva and the periodontium are among the most common oral diseases. Periodontitis (PD) is characterized by the inflammatory destruction of the periodontal attachment and alveolar bone, and its clinical appearance can be influenced by congenital as well as acquired factors. The existence of a rheumatic or other inflammatory systemic disease may promote PD in both its emergence and progress. However, there is evidence that PD maintains systemic diseases. Nevertheless, many mechanisms in the pathogenesis have not yet been examined sufficiently, so that a final explanatory model is still under discussion, and we hereby present arguments in favor of this. In this review, we also discuss in detail the fact that oral bacterial infections and inflammation seem to be linked directly to the etiopathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There are findings that support the hypothesis that oral infections play a role in RA pathogenesis. Of special importance are the impact of periodontal pathogens, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis on citrullination, and the association of PD in RA patients with seropositivity toward rheumatoid factor and the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody.
PMCID: PMC2990988  PMID: 21062513
9.  Immediate determination of ACPA and rheumatoid factor - a novel point of care test for detection of anti-MCV antibodies and rheumatoid factor using a lateral-flow immunoassay 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(3):R120.
Autoantibodies against mutated and citrullinated vimentin (MCV) represent a novel diagnostic marker for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, an increased sensitivity for anti-MCV compared to autoantibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP2) was shown in cohorts of patients with early RA and established disease.
The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a point of care test (POCT) for detection of anti-MCV antibodies immediately at the first visit or at the bed side.
A lateral-flow immunoassay was developed for simultaneous detection of anti-MCV antibodies and rheumatoid factor (RF-IgG) and evaluated in a prospective setting. Analyses were performed from whole blood samples of patients with seropositive RA (n = 108), seronegative RA as well as other rheumatic disorders (n = 122), and healthy blood donors (n = 200) and compared to detection via ELISA.
Using the POCT, anti-MCV antibodies were detected in 54.6% and RF-IgG in 56.5% of patients with RA. Specificity was 99.1% for anti-MCV antibodies and 91.2% for RF-IgG. Compared to ELISA's results, POCT sensitivity was 69.3% for anti-MCV and 55.6% for RF-IgG, specificity was 99.7% and 97.2%, respectively.
This POCT for detection of anti-MCV antibodies and RF-IgG provides high specificity for the diagnosis of RA and is useful in clinical practice due to its simplicity and its reliable performance. This test can greatly improve a timely management of RA and may help in screening patients with suspected RA in non-specialized settings prompting early referrals.
PMCID: PMC2911914  PMID: 20569500
10.  Kitasato Symposium 2009: New Prospects for Cytokine Inhibition 
The Kitasato Symposium 2009: New Prospects for Cytokine Inhibition was held in Berlin, Germany from 7 to 9 May 2009. The key aims of this meeting were to bring together a group of front-line researchers and rheumatologists to evaluate the use of cytokine blockade and to examine the role of certain cytokines in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. A keynote lecture delivered by Professor Jean-Michel Dayer provided an up-to-date overview of the interactions occurring between the immune system and acute phase proteins. Other speakers discussed the role of cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis, including their role in joint destruction, as well as their regulatory role upon T cells and B cells. The involvement of cytokines in other autoimmune diseases was also addressed.
PMCID: PMC3003512  PMID: 20067593
11.  Rapid and sustained improvements in health-related quality of life, fatigue, and other patient-reported outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with certolizumab pegol plus methotrexate over 1 year: results from the RAPID 1 randomized controlled trial 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R170.
The objective of this study was to assess the impact of certolizumab pegol (CZP) treatment on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), fatigue and other patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients with active RA (N = 982) were randomized 2:2:1 to subcutaneous CZP (400 mg at weeks 0, 2 and 4; followed by CZP 200 mg or 400 mg) plus methotrexate (MTX) every other week, or placebo (PBO) plus MTX. PRO assessments included HRQoL, fatigue, physical function, arthritis pain and disease activity. Adjusted mean changes from baseline in all PROs were obtained using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) applying last observation carried forward (LOCF) imputation. The proportion of patients achieving clinically meaningful improvements in each PRO was obtained using logistic regression and by applying non-responder imputation to missing values after rescue medication or withdrawal. The correlations between PRO responses and clinical responses were also assessed by tetrachoric correlation using non-responder imputation.
Patients treated with CZP plus MTX reported significant (P < 0.001), clinically meaningful improvements in HRQoL at the first assessment (week 12); reductions in fatigue, disease activity and pain and improvements in physical function were reported at week 1. In particular, CZP-treated patients reported improvements in mental health. Mean changes from baseline in the SF-36 Mental Component Summary (MCS) at week 52 for CZP 200 mg and 400 mg plus MTX, and PBO plus MTX were 6.4, 6.4 and 2.1, respectively (P < 0.001). In addition, mental health and vitality scores in CZP-treated patients approached age- and gender-adjusted US population norms. Improvements in all PROs were sustained. Similar benefits were reported with both CZP doses. Changes in SF-36 MCS scores had the lowest correlation with disease activity scores (DAS28) and American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement (ACR20) response rates, while improvements in pain showed the highest correlation.
Treatment with CZP plus MTX resulted in rapid and sustained improvements in all PROs, indicating that the benefits of CZP extend beyond clinical efficacy endpoints into areas that are more relevant and meaningful for patients on a daily basis.
Trial Registration NCT00152386.
PMCID: PMC3003523  PMID: 19909548
12.  Bronchoalveoloar lavage fluid cytokines and chemokines as markers and predictors for the outcome of interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis patients 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R111.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a frequent manifestation of systemic sclerosis (SSc), and cytokines can contribute to the disease pathology. The aim of the current study was to identify specific changes in cytokine levels that may serve as disease markers and possible targets for therapy.
Cytokines were measured with bioplex analysis in 38 bronchoalveolar fluids (BALFs) from 32 SSc patients (27 with alveolitis and 11 without alveolitis) and 26 control patients. In the case of SSc patients, cytokines were correlated with the respective bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cell differentiation, lung function, and thoracic HR-CT score. For 35 BALF samples derived from 29 SSc patients, follow-up investigations of clinical data, lung-function parameter, or thoracic HR-CT scans were available to evaluate the predictive capacity of BALF cytokines and chemokines.
High IL-7 levels were characteristic of SSc-associated interstitial lung disease (ILD) and, in addition, when compared with ILD-negative SSc patients, ILD-positive SSc patients revealed higher IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, and CCL2 (MCP-1) BALF levels. High CCL2 and IL-8 BALF concentrations were associated with neutrophilic and mixed alveolitis. Cytokine levels of IL-4, IL-8, and CCL2 correlated negatively with lung-function parameters; CCL2 concentrations also correlated with HR-CT scores. High concentrations of several cytokines were associated with the progress of ILD and end-stage ILD. Univariate analyses revealed high IL-2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) levels as the best predictors for progressive disease, together with lung-function parameters, young age, and neutrophilic alveolitis. Multivariate analyses partially confirmed these results but did not sufficiently converge because of the limited number of patients.
The association of BALF cytokines with lung fibrosis and its progress suggests that cytokines contribute to the pathogenesis of ILD and hence could be regarded as potential therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC2745793  PMID: 19615053
13.  Diagnostic value of anti-topoisomerase I antibodies in a large monocentric cohort 
In the present study, the detection of anti-topoisomerase I (anti-topo I) autoantibodies was evaluated for diagnosis and risk assessment of systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients in a well characterized large monocentric cohort.
Sera from patients with SSc (diffuse n = 96, limited n = 113), from patients with overlap syndromes (n = 51), from patients with other diseases associated with SSc (n = 20), as well as from disease controls (n = 487) were analysed for the presence of anti-topo I antibodies by line immunoblot assay and ELISA. Assessment of organ manifestations was performed as proposed by the European Scleroderma Trial and Research network.
The applied test systems for the detection of anti-topo I antibodies revealed a diagnostic sensitivity for SSc of approximately 24% and a diagnostic specificity of at least 99.6%. The sensitivity to identify patients with diffuse SSc amounted to 60%. Patients with anti-topo I antibodies showed a higher burden of skin and lung fibrosis, contractures, electrocardiogram changes, as well as digital ulcers and had more active disease than antibody-negative patients. Signal strengths correlated only weakly with disease activity, with modified Rodnan skin score, with predicted forced vital capacity, and with predicted diffusion capacity levels (P = 0.01, ρ = 0.234, ρ = 0.413, ρ = -0.215, ρ = -0.219). High signal intensities were associated with an increased mortality in diffuse SSc patients (P = 0.003).
Diagnosis and risk assessment of SSc patients can be supported by the detection of anti-topo I antibodies. Signal intensities as obtained by line immunoblot assay or ELISA can be used as a surrogate marker for fibrosis, active disease and worse prognosis.
PMCID: PMC2688262  PMID: 19232127
14.  Antibodies against PM/Scl-75 and PM/Scl-100 are independent markers for different subsets of systemic sclerosis patients 
Anti-PM/Scl antibodies are present in sera from patients with polymyositis (PM), systemic sclerosis (SSc), and PM/SSc overlap syndromes. The prevalence of antibodies against the 75- and 100-kDa PM/Scl proteins and their clinical associations have not been studied in SSc patients in detail so far but could provide a valuable tool for risk assessment in these patients. Furthermore, it remains speculative whether commercially available test systems detecting only anti-PM/Scl-100 antibodies are sufficient in SSc patients.
Two hundred eighty sera from SSc patients, patients with other connective tissue diseases (n = 209), and healthy blood donors (n = 50) were analyzed for the presence of anti-PM/Scl-75 and anti-PM/Scl-100 antibodies by means of line immunoblot assay. For the SSc patients, possible associations between both subsets of anti-PM/Scl antibodies with clinical and laboratory findings were studied.
The determination of anti-PM/Scl reactivity revealed a diagnostic sensitivity of 12.5% and a specificity of 96.9% for SSc. Among anti-PM/Scl-positive SSc patients, 10.4% and 7.1% were positive for anti-PM/Scl-75 and anti-PM/Scl-100 antibodies, respectively. The highest prevalences of reactivity to PM/Scl were detected in diffuse SSc (19.8%) and overlap syndromes (17.6%). Patients with diffuse SSc showed mainly an anti-PM/Scl-75 response, whereas most cases of overlap syndromes were characterized by reactivity to both PM/Scl antigens. The presence of anti-PM/Scl-75/100 antibodies was associated with muscular and lung involvements as well as with digital ulcers; pulmonary arterial hypertension was found less frequently. Anti-PM/Scl-75 antibodies were detected more frequently in younger and more active patients with joint contractures. Anti-PM/Scl-100 antibodies were associated with creatine kinase elevation; however, gastrointestinal involvements were observed less frequently.
Anti-PM/Scl antibodies are common in distinct SSc subsets and are associated with several clinical symptoms. They are directed mainly to the PM/Scl-75 antigen. Consequently, the detection of anti-PM/Scl antibodies by tests based only on PM/Scl-100 as an antigen source may miss a relevant number of SSc patients positive for these antibodies.
PMCID: PMC2688254  PMID: 19220911
16.  Cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the QUEST-RA study 
We analyzed the prevalence of cardiovascular (CV) disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its association with traditional CV risk factors, clinical features of RA, and the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in a multinational cross-sectional cohort of nonselected consecutive outpatients with RA (The Questionnaires in Standard Monitoring of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Program, or QUEST-RA) who were receiving regular clinical care.
The study involved a clinical assessment by a rheumatologist and a self-report questionnaire by patients. The clinical assessment included a review of clinical features of RA and exposure to DMARDs over the course of RA. Comorbidities were recorded; CV morbidity included myocardial infarction, angina, coronary disease, coronary bypass surgery, and stroke. Traditional risk factors recorded were hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, smoking, physical inactivity, and body mass index. Unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) (95% confidence interval [CI]) for CV morbidity were calculated using Cox proportional hazard regression models.
Between January 2005 and October 2006, the QUEST-RA project included 4,363 patients from 48 sites in 15 countries; 78% were female, more than 90% were Caucasian, and the mean age was 57 years. The prevalence for lifetime CV events in the entire sample was 3.2% for myocardial infarction, 1.9% for stroke, and 9.3% for any CV event. The prevalence for CV risk factors was 32% for hypertension, 14% for hyperlipidemia, 8% for diabetes, 43% for ever-smoking, 73% for physical inactivity, and 18% for obesity. Traditional risk factors except obesity and physical inactivity were significantly associated with CV morbidity. There was an association between any CV event and age and male gender and between extra-articular disease and myocardial infarction. Prolonged exposure to methotrexate (HR 0.85; 95% CI 0.81 to 0.89), leflunomide (HR 0.59; 95% CI 0.43 to 0.79), sulfasalazine (HR 0.92; 95% CI 0.87 to 0.98), glucocorticoids (HR 0.95; 95% CI 0.92 to 0.98), and biologic agents (HR 0.42; 95% CI 0.21 to 0.81; P < 0.05) was associated with a reduction of the risk of CV morbidity; analyses were adjusted for traditional risk factors and countries.
In conclusion, prolonged use of treatments such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, glucocorticoids, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockers appears to be associated with a reduced risk of CV disease. In addition to traditional risk factors, extra-articular disease was associated with the occurrence of myocardial infarction in patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC2453774  PMID: 18325087
17.  Cells of the synovium in rheumatoid arthritis. Macrophages 
The multitude and abundance of macrophage-derived mediators in rheumatoid arthritis and their paracrine/autocrine effects identify macrophages as local and systemic amplifiers of disease. Although uncovering the etiology of rheumatoid arthritis remains the ultimate means to silence the pathogenetic process, efforts in understanding how activated macrophages influence disease have led to optimization strategies to selectively target macrophages by agents tailored to specific features of macrophage activation. This approach has two advantages: (a) striking the cell population that mediates/amplifies most of the irreversible tissue destruction and (b) sparing other cells that have no (or only marginal) effects on joint damage.
PMCID: PMC2246244  PMID: 18177511
18.  Treatment of posttraumatic and focal osteoarthritic cartilage defects of the knee with autologous polymer-based three-dimensional chondrocyte grafts: 2-year clinical results 
Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) is an effective clinical procedure for the regeneration of articular cartilage defects. BioSeed®-C is a second-generation ACI tissue engineering cartilage graft that is based on autologous chondrocytes embedded in a three-dimensional bioresorbable two-component gel-polymer scaffold. In the present prospective study, we evaluated the short-term to mid-term efficacy of BioSeed-C for the arthrotomic and arthroscopic treatment of posttraumatic and degenerative cartilage defects in a group of patients suffering from chronic posttraumatic and/or degenerative cartilage lesions of the knee. Clinical outcome was assessed in 40 patients with a 2-year clinical follow-up before implantation and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after implantation by using the modified Cincinnati Knee Rating System, the Lysholm score, the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, and the current health assessment form (SF-36) of the International Knee Documentation Committee, as well as histological analysis of second-look biopsies. Significant improvement (p < 0.05) in the evaluated scores was observed at 1 and/or 2 years after implantation of BioSeed-C, and histological staining of the biopsies showed good integration of the graft and formation of a cartilaginous repair tissue. The Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score showed significant improvement in the subclasses pain, other symptoms, and knee-related quality of life 2 years after implantation of BioSeed-C in focal osteoarthritic defects. The results suggest that implanting BioSeed-C is an effective treatment option for the regeneration of posttraumatic and/or osteoarthritic defects of the knee.
PMCID: PMC1906819  PMID: 17451597
19.  Epratuzumab (humanised anti-CD22 antibody) in primary Sjögren's syndrome: an open-label phase I/II study 
This open-label, phase I/II study investigated the safety and efficacy of epratuzumab, a humanised anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody, in the treatment of patients with active primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS). Sixteen Caucasian patients (14 females/2 males, 33–72 years) were to receive 4 infusions of 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab once every 2 weeks, with 6 months of follow-up. A composite endpoint involving the Schirmer-I test, unstimulated whole salivary flow, fatigue, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and immunoglobulin G (IgG) was devised to provide a clinically meaningful assessment of response, defined as a ≥20% improvement in at least two of the aforementioned parameters, with ≥20% reduction in ESR and/or IgG considered as a single combined criterion. Fourteen patients received all infusions without significant reactions, 1 patient received 3, and another was discontinued due to a mild acute reaction after receiving a partial infusion. Three patients showed moderately elevated levels of Human anti-human (epratuzumab) antibody not associated with clinical manifestations. B-cell levels had mean reductions of 54% and 39% at 6 and 18 weeks, respectively, but T-cell levels, immunoglobulins, and routine safety laboratory tests did not change significantly. Fifty-three percent achieved a clinical response (at ≥20% improvement level) at 6 weeks, with 53%, 47%, and 67% responding at 10, 18, and 32 weeks, respectively. Approximately 40%–50% responded at the ≥30% level, while 10%–45% responded at the ≥50% level for 10–32 weeks. Additionally, statistically significant improvements were observed in fatigue, and patient and physician global assessments. Further, we determined that pSS patients have a CD22 over-expression in their peripheral B cells, which was downregulated by epratuzumab for at least 12 weeks after the therapy. Thus, epratuzumab appears to be a promising therapy in active pSS, suggesting that further studies be conducted.
PMCID: PMC1779377  PMID: 16859536
20.  Initial clinical trial of epratuzumab (humanized anti-CD22 antibody) for immunotherapy of systemic lupus erythematosus 
B cells play an important role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), so the safety and activity of anti-B cell immunotherapy with the humanized anti-CD22 antibody epratuzumab was evaluated in SLE patients. An open-label, single-center study of 14 patients with moderately active SLE (total British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) score 6 to 12) was conducted. Patients received 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab intravenously every 2 weeks for 4 doses with analgesic/antihistamine premedication (but no steroids) prior to each dose. Evaluations at 6, 10, 18 and 32 weeks (6 months post-treatment) follow-up included safety, SLE activity (BILAG score), blood levels of epratuzumab, B and T cells, immunoglobulins, and human anti-epratuzumab antibody (HAHA) titers. Total BILAG scores decreased by ≥ 50% in all 14 patients at some point during the study (including 77% with a ≥ 50% decrease at 6 weeks), with 92% having decreases of various amounts continuing to at least 18 weeks (where 38% showed a ≥ 50% decrease). Almost all patients (93%) experienced improvements in at least one BILAG B- or C-level disease activity at 6, 10 and 18 weeks. Additionally, 3 patients with multiple BILAG B involvement at baseline had completely resolved all B-level disease activities by 18 weeks. Epratuzumab was well tolerated, with a median infusion time of 32 minutes. Drug serum levels were measurable for at least 4 weeks post-treatment and detectable in most samples at 18 weeks. B cell levels decreased by an average of 35% at 18 weeks and remained depressed at 6 months post-treatment. Changes in routine safety laboratory tests were infrequent and without any consistent pattern, and there was no evidence of immunogenicity or significant changes in T cells, immunoglobulins, or autoantibody levels. In patients with mild to moderate active lupus, 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab was well tolerated, with evidence of clinical improvement after the first infusion and durable clinical benefit across most body systems. As such, multicenter controlled studies are being conducted in broader patient populations.
PMCID: PMC1526638  PMID: 16630358
21.  Decrease in expression of bone morphogenetic proteins 4 and 5 in synovial tissue of patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis 
Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) have been identified as important morphogens with pleiotropic functions in regulating the development, homeostasis and repair of various tissues. The aim of this study was to characterize the expression of BMPs in synovial tissues under normal and arthritic conditions. Synovial tissue from normal donors (ND) and from patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were analyzed for BMP expression by using microarray hybridization. Differential expression of BMP-4 and BMP-5 was validated by semiquantitative RT-PCR, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Activity of arthritis was determined by routine parameters for systemic inflammation, by histological scoring of synovitis and by semiquantitative RT-PCR of IL-1β, TNF-α, stromelysin and collagenase I in synovial tissue. Expression of BMP-4 and BMP-5 mRNA was found to be significantly decreased in synovial tissue of patients with RA in comparison with ND by microarray analysis (p < 0.0083 and p < 0.0091). Validation by PCR confirmed these data in RA (p < 0.002) and also revealed a significant decrease in BMP-4 and BMP-5 expression in OA compared with ND (p < 0.015). Furthermore, histomorphological distribution of both morphogens as determined by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry showed a dominance in the lining layer of normal tissues, whereas chronically inflamed tissue from patients with RA revealed BMP expression mainly scattered across deeper layers. In OA, these changes were less pronounced with variable distribution of BMPs in the lining and sublining layer. BMP-4 and BMP-5 are expressed in normal synovial tissue and were found decreased in OA and RA. This may suggest a role of distinct BMPs in joint homeostasis that is disturbed in inflammatory and degenerative joint diseases. In comparison with previous reports, these data underline the complex impact of these factors on homeostasis and remodeling in joint physiology and pathology.
PMCID: PMC1526630  PMID: 16542506
22.  Detailed analysis of the variability of peptidylarginine deiminase type 4 in German patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a case–control study 
Peptidylarginine deiminase type 4 (PADI4) genotypes were shown to influence susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the Japanese population. Such an association could not previously be confirmed in different European populations. In the present study, we analysed exons 2–4 of PADI4 in 102 German RA patients and 102 healthy individuals to study the influence of PADI4 variability on RA susceptibility by means of haplotype-specific DNA sequencing. Analyses of the influence of PADI4 and HLA-DRB1 genotypes on disease activity and on levels of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies were performed.
Comparing the frequencies of PADI4 haplotype 4 (padi4_89*G, padi4_90*T, padi4_92*G, padi4_94*T, padi4_104*C, padi4_95*G, padi4_96*T) (patients, 14.7%; controls, 7.8%; odds ratio = 2.0, 95% confidence interval = 1.1–3.8) and carriers of this haplotype (patients, 27.5%; controls, 13.7%; odds ratio = 2.4, 95% confidence interval = 1.2–4.8), a significant positive association of PADI4 haplotype 4 with RA could be demonstrated. Other PADI4 haplotypes did not differ significantly between patients and controls. Regarding the individual PADI4 variants, padi4_89 (A→G), padi4_90 (C→T), and padi4_94 (C→T) were significantly associated with RA (patients, 49.5%; controls, 38.7%; odds ratio = 1.6, 95% confidence interval = 1.1–2.3). Considering novel PADI4 variants located in or near to exons 2, 3, and 4, no quantitative or qualitative differences between RA patients (8.8%) and healthy controls (10.8%) could be demonstrated. While the PADI4 genotype did not influence disease activity and the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody level, the presence of the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope was significantly associated with higher anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody levels (P = 0.033).
The results of this small case–control study support the hypothesis that variability of the PADI4 gene may influence susceptibility to RA in the German population. Quantitative or qualitative differences in previously undefined PADI4 variants between patients and controls could not be demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC1526594  PMID: 16469113
23.  Perspectives and limitations of gene expression profiling in rheumatology: new molecular strategies 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(4):140-146.
The deciphering of the sequence of the human genome has raised the expectation of unravelling the specific role of each gene in physiology and pathology. High-throughput technologies for gene expression profiling provide the first practical basis for applying this information. In rheumatology, with its many diseases of unknown pathogenesis and puzzling inflammatory aspects, these advances appear to promise a significant advance towards the identification of leading mechanisms of pathology. Expression patterns reflect the complexity of the molecular processes and are expected to provide the molecular basis for specific diagnosis, therapeutic stratification, long-term monitoring and prognostic evaluation. Identification of the molecular networks will help in the discovery of appropriate drug targets, and permit focusing on the most effective and least toxic compounds. Current limitations in screening technologies, experimental strategies and bioinformatic interpretation will shortly be overcome by the rapid development in this field. However, gene expression profiling, by its nature, will not provide biochemical information on functional activities of proteins and might only in part reflect underlying genetic dysfunction. Genomic and proteomic technologies will therefore be complementary in their scientific and clinical application.
PMCID: PMC464885  PMID: 15225356
expression profiling; genomics; molecular strategies; pathway models; signatures
24.  Multiple functions for CD28 and cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4 during different phases of T cell responses: implications for arthritis and autoimmune diseases 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(2):45-54.
Chronic T cell responses, as they occur in rheumatoid arthritis, are complex and are likely to involve many mechanisms. There is a growing body of evidence that, in concert with the T cell antigen receptor signal, CD28 and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4; CD152) are the primary regulators of T cell responses. Whereas CD28 primarily activates T cell processes, CTLA-4 inhibits them. The mechanism for this dichotomy is not fully understood, especially as CD28 and CTLA-4 recruit similar signalling molecules. In addition, recent studies demonstrate that CD28 and CTLA-4 have multiple functions during T cell responses. In particular, CTLA-4 exerts independent distinct effects during different phases of T cell responses that could be exploited for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC400439  PMID: 15059264
CD152; costimulation; CTLA-4Ig; inflammation; polymorphism; signal transduction

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