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1.  Ribosomal and Immune Transcripts Associate with Relapse in Acquired ADAMTS13-Deficient Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0117614.
Approximately 40% of patients who survive acute episodes of thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) associated with severe acquired ADAMTS13 deficiency experience one or more relapses. Risk factors for relapse other than severe ADAMTS13 deficiency and ADAMTS13 autoantibodies are unknown. ADAMTS13 autoantibodies, TTP episodes following infection or type I interferon treatment and reported ensuing systemic lupus erythematosus in some patients suggest immune dysregulation. This cross-sectional study asked whether autoantibodies against RNA-binding proteins or peripheral blood gene expression profiles measured during remission are associated with history of prior relapse in acquired ADAMTS13-deficient TTP. Peripheral blood from 38 well-characterized patients with autoimmune ADAMTS13-deficient TTP in remission was examined for autoantibodies and global gene expression. A subset of TTP patients (9 patients, 24%) exhibited a peripheral blood gene signature composed of elevated ribosomal transcripts that associated with prior relapse. A non-overlapping subset of TTP patients (9 patients, 24%) displayed a peripheral blood type I interferon gene signature that associated with autoantibodies to RNA-binding proteins but not with history of relapse. Patients who had relapsed bimodally expressed higher HLA transcript levels independently of ribosomal transcripts. Presence of any one potential risk factor (ribosomal gene signature, elevated HLA-DRB1, elevated HLA-DRB5) associated with relapse (OR = 38.4; p = 0.0002) more closely than any factor alone or all factors together. Levels of immune transcripts typical of natural killer (NK) and T lymphocytes positively correlated with ribosomal gene expression and number of prior episodes but not with time since the most recent episode. Flow cytometry confirmed elevated expression of cell surface markers encoded by these transcripts on T and/or NK cell subsets of patients who had relapsed. These data associate elevated ribosomal and immune transcripts with relapse history in acquired, ADAMTS13-deficient TTP.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117614
PMCID: PMC4324966  PMID: 25671313
2.  Vitamin D Deficiency in a Multiethnic Healthy Control Cohort and Altered Immune Response in Vitamin D Deficient European-American Healthy Controls 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94500.
Objective
In recent years, vitamin D has been shown to possess a wide range of immunomodulatory effects. Although there is extensive amount of research on vitamin D, we lack a comprehensive understanding of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency or the mechanism by which vitamin D regulates the human immune system. This study examined the prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency and the relationship between vitamin D and the immune system in healthy individuals.
Methods
Healthy individuals (n = 774) comprised of European-Americans (EA, n = 470), African–Americans (AA, n = 125), and Native Americans (NA, n = 179) were screened for 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels by ELISA. To identify the most noticeable effects of vitamin D on the immune system, 20 EA individuals with severely deficient (<11.3 ng/mL) and sufficient (>24.8 ng/mL) vitamin D levels were matched and selected for further analysis. Serum cytokine level measurement, immune cell phenotyping, and phosphoflow cytometry were performed.
Results
Vitamin D sufficiency was observed in 37.5% of the study cohort. By multivariate analysis, AA, NA, and females with a high body mass index (BMI, >30) demonstrate higher rates of vitamin D deficiency (p<0.05). Individuals with vitamin D deficiency had significantly higher levels of serum GM-CSF (p = 0.04), decreased circulating activated CD4+ (p = 0.04) and CD8+ T (p = 0.04) cell frequencies than individuals with sufficient vitamin D levels.
Conclusion
A large portion of healthy individuals have vitamin D deficiency. These individuals have altered T and B cell responses, indicating that the absence of sufficient vitamin D levels could result in undesirable cellular and molecular alterations ultimately contributing to immune dysregulation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094500
PMCID: PMC3984168  PMID: 24727903
3.  Evidence of Dynamically Dysregulated Gene Expression Pathways in Hyperresponsive B Cells from African American Lupus Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71397.
Recent application of gene expression profiling to the immune system has shown a great potential for characterization of complex regulatory processes. It is becoming increasingly important to characterize functional systems through multigene interactions to provide valuable insights into differences between healthy controls and autoimmune patients. Here we apply an original systematic approach to the analysis of changes in regulatory gene interconnections between in Epstein-Barr virus transformed hyperresponsive B cells from SLE patients and normal control B cells. Both traditional analysis of differential gene expression and analysis of the dynamics of gene expression variations were performed in combination to establish model networks of functional gene expression. This Pathway Dysregulation Analysis identified known transcription factors and transcriptional regulators activated uniquely in stimulated B cells from SLE patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071397
PMCID: PMC3744560  PMID: 23977035
4.  PTPN22 Association in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) with Respect to Individual Ancestry and Clinical Sub-Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e69404.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 22 (PTPN22) is a negative regulator of T-cell activation associated with several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Missense rs2476601 is associated with SLE in individuals with European ancestry. Since the rs2476601 risk allele frequency differs dramatically across ethnicities, we assessed robustness of PTPN22 association with SLE and its clinical sub-phenotypes across four ethnically diverse populations. Ten SNPs were genotyped in 8220 SLE cases and 7369 controls from in European-Americans (EA), African-Americans (AA), Asians (AS), and Hispanics (HS). We performed imputation-based association followed by conditional analysis to identify independent associations. Significantly associated SNPs were tested for association with SLE clinical sub-phenotypes, including autoantibody profiles. Multiple testing was accounted for by using false discovery rate. We successfully imputed and tested allelic association for 107 SNPs within the PTPN22 region and detected evidence of ethnic-specific associations from EA and HS. In EA, the strongest association was at rs2476601 (P = 4.7×10−9, OR = 1.40 (95% CI = 1.25–1.56)). Independent association with rs1217414 was also observed in EA, and both SNPs are correlated with increased European ancestry. For HS imputed intronic SNP, rs3765598, predicted to be a cis-eQTL, was associated (P = 0.007, OR = 0.79 and 95% CI = 0.67–0.94). No significant associations were observed in AA or AS. Case-only analysis using lupus-related clinical criteria revealed differences between EA SLE patients positive for moderate to high titers of IgG anti-cardiolipin (aCL IgG >20) versus negative aCL IgG at rs2476601 (P = 0.012, OR = 1.65). Association was reinforced when these cases were compared to controls (P = 2.7×10−5, OR = 2.11). Our results validate that rs2476601 is the most significantly associated SNP in individuals with European ancestry. Additionally, rs1217414 and rs3765598 may be associated with SLE. Further studies are required to confirm the involvement of rs2476601 with aCL IgG.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069404
PMCID: PMC3737240  PMID: 23950893
5.  Immunodominance of Antigenic Site B over Site A of Hemagglutinin of Recent H3N2 Influenza Viruses 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41895.
H3N2 influenza viruses have now circulated in the human population for 43 years since the pandemic of 1968, accumulating sequence changes in the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) that are believed to be predominantly due to selection for escape from antibodies. Examination of mutations that persist and accumulate led to identification of antigenically significant mutations that are contained in five antigenic sites (A–E) mapped on to the H3 HA. In early H3N2 isolates, antigenic site A appeared to be dominant while in the 1990s site B seemed more important. To obtain experimental evidence for dominance of antigenic sites on modern H3 HAs, we have measured antibodies in plasma of human subjects who received the 2006–07 trivalent subunit influenza vaccine (H3 component A/Wisconsin/67/05) or the 2008–09 formulation (H3 component A/Uruguay/716/07). Plasmas were tested against expressed HA of Wisconsin-like influenza A/Oklahoma/309/06 and site-directed mutants in antigenic site A (NNES121-124ITEG, N126T, N133D, TSSS135-138GSNA, K140I, RSNNS142-146PGSG), and antigenic site B (HL156-157KS, KFK158-160GST, NDQI189-192QEQT, A196V). “Native ELISA” analysis and escape mutant selection with two human monoclonal antibodies demonstrated that antibody E05 binds to antigenic site A and 1_C02 binds to site B. We find that most individuals, after vaccination in seasons 2006–07 and/or 2008–09, showed dominance of antigenic site B recognition over antigenic site A. A minority showed dominance of site A in 2006 but these were reduced in 2008 when the vaccine virus had a site A mutation. A better understanding of immunodominance may allow prediction of future antigenic drift and assist in vaccine strain selection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041895
PMCID: PMC3405050  PMID: 22848649
6.  60 kD Ro and nRNP A Frequently Initiate Human Lupus Autoimmunity 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9599.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a clinically heterogeneous, humoral autoimmune disorder. The unifying feature among SLE patients is the production of large quantities of autoantibodies. Serum samples from 129 patients collected before the onset of SLE and while in the United States military were evaluated for early pre-clinical serologic events. The first available positive serum sample frequently already contained multiple autoantibody specificities (65%). However, in 34 SLE patients the earliest pre-clinical serum sample positive for any detectable common autoantibody bound only a single autoantigen, most commonly 60 kD Ro (29%), nRNP A (24%), anti-phospholipids (18%) or rheumatoid factor (15%). We identified several recurrent patterns of autoantibody onset using these pre-diagnostic samples. In the serum samples available, anti-nRNP A appeared before or simultaneously with anti-nRNP 70 K in 96% of the patients who had both autoantibodies at diagnosis. Anti-60 kD Ro antibodies appeared before or simultaneously with anti-La (98%) or anti-52 kD Ro (95%). The autoantibody response in SLE patients begins simply, often binding a single specific autoantigen years before disease onset, followed by epitope spreading to additional autoantigenic specificities that are accrued in recurring patterns.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009599
PMCID: PMC2835743  PMID: 20224770
7.  Osteopontin and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Association: A Probable Gene-Gender Interaction 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1757.
Osteopontin (SPP1) is an important bone matrix mediator found to have key roles in inflammation and immunity. SPP1 genetic polymorphisms and increased osteopontin protein levels have been reported to be associated with SLE in small patient collections. The present study evaluates association between SPP1 polymorphisms and SLE in a large cohort of 1141 unrelated SLE patients [707 European-American (EA) and 434 African-American (AA)], and 2009 unrelated controls (1309 EA and 700 AA). Population-based case-control association analyses were performed. To control for potential population stratification, admixture adjusted logistic regression, genomic control (GC), structured association (STRAT), and principal components analysis (PCA) were applied. Combined analysis of 2 ethnic groups, showed the minor allele of 2 SNPs (rs1126616T and rs9138C) significantly associated with higher risk of SLE in males (P = 0.0005, OR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.28–2.33), but not in females. Indeed, significant gene-gender interactions in the 2 SNPs, rs1126772 and rs9138, were detected (P = 0.001 and P = 0.0006, respectively). Further, haplotype analysis identified rs1126616T-rs1126772A-rs9138C which demonstrated significant association with SLE in general (P = 0.02, OR = 1.30, 95%CI 1.08–1.57), especially in males (P = 0.0003, OR = 2.42, 95%CI 1.51–3.89). Subgroup analysis with single SNPs and haplotypes also identified a similar pattern of gender-specific association in AA and EA. GC, STRAT, and PCA results within each group showed consistent associations. Our data suggest SPP1 is associated with SLE, and this association is especially stronger in males. To our knowledge, this report serves as the first association of a specific autosomal gene with human male lupus.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001757
PMCID: PMC2258418  PMID: 18335026
8.  Common Variants within MECP2 Confer Risk of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(3):e1727.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a predominantly female autoimmune disease that affects multiple organ systems. Herein, we report on an X-chromosome gene association with SLE. Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2) is located on chromosome Xq28 and encodes for a protein that plays a critical role in epigenetic transcriptional regulation of methylation-sensitive genes. Utilizing a candidate gene association approach, we genotyped 21 SNPs within and around MECP2 in SLE patients and controls. We identify and replicate association between SLE and the genomic element containing MECP2 in two independent SLE cohorts from two ethnically divergent populations. These findings are potentially related to the overexpression of methylation-sensitive genes in SLE.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001727
PMCID: PMC2253825  PMID: 18320046

Results 1-8 (8)