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2.  Is serum HMGB1 a biomarker in ANCA-associated vasculitis? 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R104.
Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitides (AAV) are systemic inflammatory disorders that include granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA), microscopic polyangiitis (MPA), Churg-Strauss syndrome and renal limited vasculitis (RLV). Extracellular high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) acts as an alarmin and has been shown to be a biomarker of disease activity as well as an autoantigen in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and, possibly, in AAV. This study aims to assess antibodies against HMGB1 and HMGB1 levels as biomarkers for AAV disease activity and predictors of relapsing disease.
AAV patients with active disease and healthy controls (HC) were evaluated for anti-HMGB1 antibodies while serum HMGB1 levels were measured longitudinally in AAV patients at presentation, during remission, prior to and at relapses.
HMGB1 levels were similar between AAV patients at presentation (n = 52) and HC (n = 35) (2.64 ± 1.80 ng/ml vs. 2.39 ± 1.09 ng/ml; P = 0.422) and no difference regarding HMGB1 levels could be found among AAV disease subsets (GPA: 2.66 ± 1.83 ng/ml vs. MPA: 3.11 ± 1.91 ng/ml vs. RLV: 1.92 ± 1.48 ng/ml; P = 0.369). AAV patients with renal involvement had lower HMGB1 levels than patients without renal involvement at presentation (2.35 ± 1.48 ng/ml vs. 3.52 ± 2.41 ng/ml; P = 0.042). A negative correlation was observed between HMGB1 levels and 24-hour proteinuria (ρ = -0.361, P = 0.028). Forty-nine AAV patients were evaluated for HMGB1 levels during follow-up and no differences were observed between relapsing and nonrelapsing patients (P = 0.350). No significant increase in HMGB1 levels was observed prior to a relapse compared with the remission period and changes in HMGB1 levels were not associated with an increased risk for relapse in AAV. Positivity for anti-HMGB1 antibodies was low in patients with active AAV (three out of 24 patients).
Serum HMGB1 levels at presentation are not increased and are lower in patients with renal involvement. Relapses are not preceded or accompanied by significant rises in HMGB1 levels and changes in HMGB1 levels are not related to ensuing relapses. Anti-HMGB1 antibodies are present in only a few patients in AAV. In contrast to SLE, HMGB1 is not a useful biomarker in AAV.
PMCID: PMC3978820  PMID: 24007972
3.  Daily physical activity in ankylosing spondylitis: validity and reliability of the IPAQ and SQUASH and the relation with clinical assessments 
The aim of this study was to investigate the construct validity and test-retest reliability of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ; long form) and the Short QUestionnaire to Assess Health-enhancing physical activity (SQUASH) and to investigate the relation between daily physical activity and clinical assessments in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
For validity, the self-report questionnaires IPAQ and SQUASH were compared with daily physical activity assessed with the ActiGraph accelerometer during 7 consecutive days in 63 AS outpatients. For reliability, the IPAQ and SQUASH were administered twice approximately 1 week apart in 52 AS outpatients. In all 115 patients, clinical assessments were performed at the outpatient clinic.
IPAQ and SQUASH total scores correlated significantly with accelerometer outcome: ρ = 0.38 and r = 0.35, respectively. Intraclass correlation coefficients between first and second assessments of the IPAQ and SQUASH were 0.83 and 0.89, respectively. Bland-Altman analyses showed no systemic bias, but in particular for the IPAQ the 95% limits of agreement were wide. Daily physical activity assessed by accelerometer, IPAQ, and SQUASH correlated significantly with disease activity, physical activity, and quality of life. A relation with spinal mobility was found only for the accelerometer and SQUASH. The direction of these correlations indicates that higher daily physical activity is related to lower disease activity and better physical function, spinal mobility and quality of life.
Both physical activity questionnaires showed modest construct validity. The SQUASH showed good test-retest reliability, superior to the IPAQ. These results indicate that the SQUASH is more suitable than the IPAQ to assess daily physical activity in AS population studies. However, it is desirable to add questions on AS-specific physical activity. Further studies are needed to investigate the causality of the relation between daily physical activity and clinical assessments.
PMCID: PMC3978664  PMID: 23971767
4.  Increased frequency of circulating IL-21 producing Th-cells in patients with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) 
The present study aimed to explore a possible role for IL-21 producing Th-cells in the immunopathogenesis of granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA).
Peripheral blood from 42 GPA patients in remission and 29 age-matched healthy controls (HCs) were stimulated in vitro, and the frequencies of IL-21 producing Th-cells were determined by flow cytometry. Since Th17-cells produce a low level of IL-21, IL-17 was also included in the analysis. Given that IL-21 is a hallmark cytokine for T follicular helper cells (TFH), we next evaluated the expression of their key transcription factor BCL-6 by RT-PCR and flow cytometry. To investigate the effect of IL-21 on autoantibody-production, PBMCs from GPA patients were stimulated in vitro with BAFF/IL-21 and total IgG and ANCA levels were measured in supernatants. In addition, the expression of IL-21-receptor on B-cells was analyzed.
Percentages of IL-21 producing Th-cells were significantly elevated in GPA-patients compared to HCs, and were restricted to ANCA-positive patients. The expression of BCL-6 was significantly higher in ANCA-positive GPA-patients, as compared with ANCA-negative patients and HCs. IL-21 enhanced the production of IgG and ANCA in vitro in stimulated PBMCs from GPA patients. No difference was found in the expression of the IL-21-receptor on B-cells between ANCA-negative patients, ANCA-positive patients, and HCs.
The increased frequency of circulating IL-21 producing Th-cells in ANCA-positive GPA patients and the stimulating capacity of IL-21 on ANCA-production suggest a role for these cells in the immunopathogenesis of GPA. Blockade of IL-21 could constitute a new therapeutic strategy for GPA.
PMCID: PMC4060544  PMID: 23799890
5.  Urinary CD8+ T-cell counts discriminate between active and inactive lupus nephritis 
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a severe and frequent manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Early detection of initial renal manifestations and relapses during follow-up is pivotal to prevent loss of renal function. Apart from renal biopsies, current urinary and serological diagnostic tests fail to accurately demonstrate the presence of active LN. Previously, we demonstrated that effector memory T-cells (CD45RO+CCR7-;TEM) migrate into the urine during active LN. The objective of this study was to assess the diagnostic value of urinary T-cells in comparison with traditional markers of active LN.
T-cells in the urine during active LN and remission were investigated. Twenty-two, in most cases biopsy-proven, active LN patients and 24 SLE patients without active LN were enrolled and serial measurements were performed in 16 patients.
Analysis of the urinary sediment in active renal disease showed an increased number of CD8+ T-cells and absence of these cells during remission. Enumerating T-cell counts in LN patients with a history of renal involvement was a superior marker of active LN in comparison to traditional markers, such as proteinuria and s-creatinine.
In conclusion, urinary T-cells, in particular CD8+ T cells, are a promising marker to assess renal activity in LN patients, in particular in those with prior renal involvement.
PMCID: PMC3672789  PMID: 23445537
6.  Systems analysis of primary Sjögren's syndrome pathogenesis in salivary glands identifies shared pathways in human and a mouse model 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(6):R238.
Primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) is a chronic autoimmune disease with complex etiopathogenesis. Despite extensive studies to understand the disease process utilizing human and mouse models, the intersection between these species remains elusive. To address this gap, we utilized a novel systems biology approach to identify disease-related gene modules and signaling pathways that overlap between humans and mice.
Parotid gland tissues were harvested from 24 pSS and 16 non-pSS sicca patients and 25 controls. For mouse studies, salivary glands were harvested from C57BL/6.NOD-Aec1Aec2 mice at various times during development of pSS-like disease. RNA was analyzed with Affymetrix HG U133+2.0 arrays for human samples and with MOE430+2.0 arrays for mouse samples. The images were processed with Affymetrix software. Weighted-gene co-expression network analysis was used to identify disease-related and functional pathways.
Nineteen co-expression modules were identified in human parotid tissue, of which four were significantly upregulated and three were downregulated in pSS patients compared with non-pSS sicca patients and controls. Notably, one of the human disease-related modules was highly preserved in the mouse model, and was enriched with genes involved in immune and inflammatory responses. Further comparison between these two species led to the identification of genes associated with leukocyte recruitment and germinal center formation.
Our systems biology analysis of genome-wide expression data from salivary gland tissue of pSS patients and from a pSS mouse model identified common dysregulated biological pathways and molecular targets underlying critical molecular alterations in pSS pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3674589  PMID: 23116360
7.  Urine levels of HMGB1 in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus patients with and without renal manifestations 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(4):R184.
Lupus nephritis (LN) is a severe and frequent manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Its pathogenesis has not been fully elucidated but immune complexes are considered to contribute to the inflammatory pathology in LN. High Mobility Group Box 1 (HMGB1) is a nuclear non-histone protein which is secreted from different types of cells during activation and/or cell death and may act as a pro-inflammatory mediator, alone or as part of DNA-containing immune complexes in SLE. Urinary excretion of HMGB1 might reflect renal inflammatory injury. To assess whether urinary HMGB1 reflects renal inflammation we determined serum levels of HMGB1 simultaneously with its urinary levels in SLE patients with and without LN in comparison to healthy controls (HC). We also analyzed urinary HMGB1 levels in relation with clinical and serological disease activity.
The study population consisted of 69 SLE patients and 17 HC. Twenty-one patients had biopsy proven active LN, 15 patients had a history of LN without current activity, and 33 patients had non-renal SLE. Serum and urine levels of HMGB1 were both measured by western blotting. Clinical and serological parameters were assessed according to routine procedures. In 17 patients with active LN a parallel analysis was performed on the expression of HMGB1 in renal biopsies.
Serum and urinary levels of HMGB1 were significantly increased in patients with active LN compared to patients without active LN and HC. Similarly, renal tissue of active LN patients showed strong expression of HMGB1 at cytoplasmic and extracellular sites suggesting active release of HMGB1. Serum and urinary levels in patients without active LN were also significantly higher compared to HC. Urinary HMGB1 levels correlated with SLEDAI, and showed a negative correlation with complement C3 and C4.
Levels of HMGB1 in urine of SLE patients, in particular in those with active LN, are increased and correlate with SLEDAI scores. Renal tissue of LN patients shows increased release of nuclear HMGB1 compared to control renal tissue. HMGB1, although at lower levels, is, however, also present in the urine of patients without active LN. These data suggest that urinary HMGB1 might reflect both local renal inflammation as well as systemic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3580580  PMID: 22892043
8.  The effect of three years of TNF alpha blocking therapy on markers of bone turnover and their predictive value for treatment discontinuation in patients with ankylosing spondylitis: a prospective longitudinal observational cohort study 
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of three years of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) blocking therapy on bone turnover as well as to analyze the predictive value of early changes in bone turnover markers (BTM) for treatment discontinuation in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
This is a prospective cohort study of 111 consecutive AS outpatients who started TNF-α blocking therapy. Clinical assessments and BTM were assessed at baseline, three and six months, as well as at one, two, and three years. Z-scores of BTM were calculated to correct for age and gender. Bone mineral density (BMD) was assessed yearly.
After three years, 72 patients (65%) were still using their first TNF-α blocking agent. In these patients, TNF-α blocking therapy resulted in significantly increased bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, a marker of bone formation; decreased serum collagen-telopeptide (sCTX), a marker of bone resorption; and increased lumbar spine and hip BMD compared to baseline. Baseline to three months decrease in sCTX Z-score (HR: 0.394, 95% CI: 0.263 to 0.591), AS disease activity score (ASDAS; HR: 0.488, 95% CI: 0.317 to 0.752), and physician's global disease activity (HR: 0.739, 95% CI: 0.600 to 0.909) were independent inversely related predictors of time to treatment discontinuation because of inefficacy or intolerance. Early decrease in sCTX Z-score correlated significantly with good long-term response regarding disease activity, physical function and quality of life.
Three years of TNF-α blocking therapy results in a bone turnover balance that favors bone formation, especially mineralization, in combination with continuous improvement of lumbar spine BMD. Early change in sCTX can serve as an objective measure in the evaluation of TNF-α blocking therapy in AS, in addition to the currently used more subjective measures.
PMCID: PMC3446472  PMID: 22546520
9.  Advanced glycation endproducts are increased in rheumatoid arthritis patients with controlled disease 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R205.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are produced and can accumulate during chronic inflammation, as might be present in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). AGEs are involved in the development of cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether AGEs are increased in patients with long-standing RA and whether AGE accumulation is related to disease activity, disease severity and measures of (premature) atherosclerosis, such as endothelial activation, endothelial dysfunction and intima media thickness (IMT).
In a cross-sectional study, 49 consecutive RA patients with longstanding disease (median disease duration of 12.3 years (range 9.3 to 15.1)), receiving standard of care, were included and compared with 49 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HC). AGEs were determined by skin autofluorescence. Disease activity was evaluated by the Disease Activity Score of 28 joints (DAS-28) score and joint damage by modified Sharp-v.d. Heijde score. Endothelial activation (soluble vascular cellular adhesion molecule-1) sVCAM-1, von Willebrand factor (vWF), thrombomodulin), endothelial dysfunction (determined by small artery elasticity (SAE)) and IMT were measured and related to AGE accumulation.
AGEs were increased in RA patients (median 2.4 arbitrary units (a.u.), range 1.6 to 4.2) compared to HC (2.2, 1.3 to 3.8). RA patients had a DAS-28 score of 2.9 (0.8 to 6.9) and a modified Sharp-v.d. Heijde score of 19 (0 to 103). sVCAM-1 and vWF levels were higher in RA patients. SAE was significantly decreased in RA (3.9 ml/mmHg (1.4 to 12.2) vs. 6.1 in HC (1.7 to 12.9). IMT did not differ between the two groups. Combining both groups' AGEs correlated with vWF, sVCAM-1 and IMT, and was inversely related to SAE. In RA, AGEs had an inverse relation with SAE, but did not relate to disease activity or radiological damage. In multivariate analysis for both groups, smoking, glucose levels, vWF, SAE and male gender were significantly related to the formation of AGEs.
AGEs were increased in RA patients with long-standing disease and without signs of premature atherosclerosis. AGEs were related to endothelial activation and endothelial dysfunction. This supports the hypothesis that in RA AGEs may be an early marker of cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3334658  PMID: 22168993
rheumatoid arthritis; endothelial cell activation; endothelial dysfunction; intima media thickness; advanced glycation end products; atherosclerosis
10.  What have we learned from clinical trials in primary Sjögren's syndrome about pathogenesis? 
In vitro and in vivo experimental data have pointed to new immunopathogenic mechanisms in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS). The availability of targeted treatment modalities has opened new ways to selectively target these mechanistic pathways in vivo. This has taught us that the role of proinflammatory cytokines, in particular TNFα, is not crucial in the immunopathogenesis of pSS. B cells appear to play a major role, as depletion of B cells leads to restoration of salivary flow and is efficacious for treatment of extraglandular manifestations and mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma. B cells also orchestrate T-cell infiltration and ductal epithelial dearrangement in the salivary glands. Gene profiling of salivary gland tissue in relation to B-cell depletion confirms that the axis of IFNα, B-cell activating factor, B-cell activation, proliferation and survival constitutes a major pathogenic route in pSS.
PMCID: PMC3157640  PMID: 21371351
11.  T-helper cells as new players in ANCA-associated vasculitides 
In anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody-associated vasculitides (AAV), several observations support a key role of T-helper cells (CD4+ T cells) in disease pathophysiology. An expanded population of effector memory CD4+ T cells in AAV patients may contribute to tissue injury and disease progression. In addition, functional impairment of regulatory T cells (TRegs) is reported in AAV patients. A fraction of TRegs have the capacity to differentiate into Th17 cells in the context of a proinflammatory environment. Therefore, nonfunctionality of TRegs described in AAV patients may be caused by their conversion into IL-17-producing cells that may contribute to granulomatous vasculitis. Further investigations directed at the plasticity of TRegs in AAV patients are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3239339  PMID: 21888687
12.  Increase in IL-21 producing T-cells in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(5):R157.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease accompanied by a disturbed T-cell balance skewed towards effector T-cells, in particular Th17-cells. The novel cytokine interleukin-21 (IL-21) is suggested to be crucial for triggering T-cell responses towards IL-17 producing cells. Thus, we aimed to investigate the ability of T-cells to produce IL-21 and IL-17 in SLE patients.
Peripheral blood of 34 SLE patients and 18 healthy controls (HC) was stimulated with phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) and calcium ionophore (Ca-Io). Percentages of IL-21- and IL-17A expressing T-cells were analysed by flow cytometry. The expression levels of the transcription factors B-cell lymphoma-6 (BCL-6) and factors retinoid-related orphan receptor (ROR-γt) were assessed in T-cells by real-time RT-PCR and flow cytometry. Additionally, IL-21 receptor (IL-21R) expression on B- and T-cells of patients and HC was analyzed.
Significantly increased percentages of IL-21 expressing CD4+ T-cells and CD8+ T-cells were found in SLE patients as compared to HC. The percentages of IL-21+ CD4+ T-cells and CD8+ T-cells correlated significantly with the percentages of IL-17A+ CD4+ T-cells and CD8+ T-cells, respectively. The relative expression of BCL-6 and ROR-γt did not differ between SLE patients and HC. IL-21R expression occurred mainly on B-cells and was not different comparing SLE patients and HC.
This study demonstrates an increased proportion of IL-21+ T-cells in SLE patients correlating with the proportion of IL-17+ T-cells. This suggests a pivotal role of IL-21 in the pathogenesis of SLE.
PMCID: PMC3308088  PMID: 21959034
SLE; Th17-cells; IL-21; T-cells
13.  Baseline predictors of response and discontinuation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha blocking therapy in ankylosing spondylitis: a prospective longitudinal observational cohort study 
Identifying ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients who are likely to benefit from tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) blocking therapy is important, especially in view of the costs and potential side effects of these agents. Recently, the AS Disease Activity Score (ASDAS) has been developed to assess both subjective and objective aspects of AS disease activity. However, data about the predictive value of the ASDAS with respect to clinical response to TNF-α blocking therapy are lacking. The aim of the present study was to identify baseline predictors of response and discontinuation of TNF-α blocking therapy in AS patients in daily clinical practice.
AS outpatients who started TNF-α blocking therapy were included in the Groningen Leeuwarden Ankylosing Spondylitis (GLAS) study, an ongoing prospective longitudinal observational cohort study with follow-up visits according to a fixed protocol. For the present analysis, patients were excluded if they had previously received anti-TNF-α treatment. Predictor analyses of response and treatment discontinuation were performed using logistic and Cox regression models, respectively.
Between November 2004 and April 2010, 220 patients started treatment with infliximab (n = 32), etanercept (n = 137), or adalimumab (n = 51). At three and six months, 68% and 63% of patients were Assessments in Ankylosing Spondylitis (ASAS)20 responders, 49% and 46% ASAS40 responders, and 49% and 50% Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI)50 responders, respectively. Baseline predictors of response were younger age, male gender, higher ASDAS score, higher erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) level, higher C-reactive protein (CRP) level, presence of peripheral arthritis, higher patient's global assessment of disease activity, and lower modified Schober test. In August 2010, 64% of patients were still using their TNF-α blocking agent with a median follow-up of 33.1 months (range 2.4 to 68.2). Baseline predictors of discontinuation of TNF-α blocking therapy were female gender, absence of peripheral arthritis, higher BASDAI, lower ESR level, and lower CRP level.
Besides younger age and male gender, objective variables such as higher inflammatory markers or ASDAS score were identified as independent baseline predictors of response and/or continuation of TNF-α blocking therapy. In contrast, higher baseline BASDAI score was independently associated with treatment discontinuation. Based on these results, it seems clinically relevant to include more objective variables in the evaluation of anti-TNF-α treatment.
PMCID: PMC3218909  PMID: 21689401
14.  High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) and anti-HMGB1 antibodies and their relation to disease characteristics in systemic lupus erythematosus 
High Mobility Group Box 1 (HMGB1) is a nuclear non-histone protein. HMGB1, which is secreted by inflammatory cells and passively released from apoptotic and necrotic cells, may act as a pro-inflammatory mediator. As apoptotic cells accumulate in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), HMGB1 levels might be increased in SLE. HMGB1 may also serve as an autoantigen, leading to the production of anti-HMGB1 antibodies. In this study we determined levels of HMGB1 and anti-HMGB1 in SLE patients in comparison to healthy controls (HC) and analysed their relation with disease activity.
The study population consisted of 70 SLE patients and 35 age- and sex-matched HC. Thirty-three SLE patients had quiescent disease, the other 37 patients were selected for having active disease. Nineteen of these had lupus nephritis. HMGB1 levels were measured with both Western blot and ELISA. Anti-HMGB1 levels were measured by ELISA. Clinical and serological parameters were assessed according to routine procedures.
HMGB1 levels in SLE patients could be measured reliably by Western blotting only, and were significantly increased compared to HC. During active disease HMGB1 levels increased, in particular in patients with renal involvement. Serum HMGB1 levels correlated with SLEDAI, proteinuria, and anti-dsDNA levels, and showed a negative correlation with complement C3. Anti-HMGB1 levels were significantly increased in SLE patients compared to HC, and positively correlated with HMGB1 levels.
Levels of HMGB1 in the sera of SLE patients, in particular in those with active renal disease, are increased. Serum HMGB1 levels are related to SLEDAI scores and proteinuria, as well as to levels of anti-HMGB1 antibodies. These findings suggest that besides HMGB1, HMGB1-anti-HMGB1 immune complexes play a role in the pathogenesis of SLE, in particular in patients with renal involvement.
PMCID: PMC3218880  PMID: 21548924
15.  Small artery elasticity is decreased in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus without increased intima media thickness 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R181.
The objectives of this study were to determine small arterial elasticity (SAE) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and to investigate its relationship with intima media thickness (IMT), accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), endothelial activation and inflammation.
Thirty SLE patients with inactive disease and 30 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were included. Twenty patients with essential hypertension (EH) served as positive control. SAE was assessed by pulse-wave analysis using tonometric recordings of the radial artery. IMT of the carotid arteries was measured by ultrasound. AGE accumulation was assessed with an AGE-reader. Endothelial activation markers and C-reactive protein (CRP) were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
SAE was decreased in SLE (P = 0.01) and further decreased in EH (P < 0.01) compared to healthy controls. IMT was increased in EH (P < 0.05), but not in SLE. AGE accumulation was increased in SLE (P < 0.05) and further increased in EH (P < 0.01) compared to healthy controls. Endothelial activation markers and CRP were increased in SLE but not in EH. SAE related to AGE accumulation (r = -0.370, P < 0.05), CRP (r = -0.429, P < 0.05) and creatinine clearance (r = 0.440, P < 0.05), but not to IMT and endothelial activation markers. In multivariate analysis SLE was an independent predictor of SAE.
SAE is decreased in SLE patients without increased IMT, independently of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Longitudinal studies are needed to investigate whether SAE, endothelial activation and AGE accumulation are early markers for cardiovascular disease in SLE.
PMCID: PMC2991012  PMID: 20920173
16.  Increased expression of costimulatory markers CD134 and CD80 on interleukin-17 producing T cells in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(4):R150.
There is growing evidence that interleukin 17 (IL-17) producing T cells are involved in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Previous studies showed that increased percentages of T-cell subsets expressing the costimulatory molecules CD80 and CD134 are associated with disease activity and renal involvement in SLE. The aim of this study was to investigate the distribution and phenotypical characteristics of IL-17 producing T-cells in SLE, in particular in patients with lupus nephritis, with emphasis on the expression of CD80 and CD134.
Thirty-four patients (3 male, 31 female, mean age 41 ± 15 years) fulfilling at least four of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) revised criteria for the diagnosis of SLE and 24 healthy controls were enrolled. T-cells from the peripheral blood were analysed by fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) for their expression levels of CD80, CD134 and CCR6. In vitro stimulated CD3+IL17+ cells were also investigated for the expression of these costimulatory markers. Finally, renal biopsies from SLE patients were evaluated for the presence of CD134 expressing T-cells.
Percentages of IL-17 expressing T-cells were significantly increased in patients with active disease as compared to healthy controls (1.46 ± 0.58% versus 0.93 ± 0.30%, P = 0.007). The percentage of IL-17 producing T-cells was correlated with disease activity as assessed by systemic lupus erythematosus disease activity index (SLEDAI) (r = 0.53, P = 0.003). In patients, most of the IL-17 producing T-cells were confined to the CCR6+ T-cell subset (80 ± 13%). Expression of CD80 and CD134 on the IL-17 producing T-cell subset was higher in SLE than in healthy controls (HC) (CD134: 71.78 ± 14.51% versus 51.45 ± 16.58%, P = 0.002; CD80: 25.5 ± 14.99% versus 14.99 ± 5.74%, P = 0.02). Also, patients with lupus nephritis expressed higher levels of CD134+ on CD3+IL-17+ cells as compared to HC (72.69 ± 11.54% versus 51.45 ± 16.58%, P = 0.006). Furthermore, renal biopsies of lupus nephritis patients showed infiltration of CD134+ T cells.
Percentages of IL-17 expressing T-cells correlate with disease activity. Further, these cells show increased expression of costimulatory markers such as CD134 and CD80. The presence of CD134+ T-cells in renal biopsies of lupus nephritis patients suggest that these cells migrate to the kidney and might contribute to inflammatory processes through IL-17 secretion.
PMCID: PMC2945048  PMID: 20653937
17.  Early atherosclerosis in systemic sclerosis and its relation to disease or traditional risk factors 
Several systemic autoimmune diseases are associated with an increased prevalence of atherosclerosis which could not be explained by traditional risk factors alone. In systemic sclerosis (SSc), microvascular abnormalities are well recognized. Previous studies have suggested an increased prevalence of macrovascular disease as well. We compared patients with SSc to healthy controls for signs of early atherosclerosis by measuring intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid artery in relation to traditional risk factors and markers of endothelial activation.
Forty-nine patients with SSc, of whom 92% had limited cutaneous SSc, and 32 healthy controls were studied. Common carotid IMT was measured by using B-mode ultrasound. Traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease were assessed and serum markers for endothelial activation were measured.
In patients with SSc, the mean IMT (median 0.69 mm, interquartile range [IQR] 0.62 to 0.79 mm) was not significantly increased compared with healthy controls (0.68 mm, IQR 0.56 to 0.75 mm; P = 0.067). Also, after correction for the confounders age, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P = 0.328) or using a different model taking into account the confounders age, HDL cholesterol, and history of macrovascular disease (P = 0.474), no difference in IMT was present between SSc patients and healthy controls. Plaques were found in three patients and not in healthy controls (P = 0.274). In patients, no correlations were found between maximum IMT, disease-related variables, and markers of endothelial activation. Endothelial activation markers were not increased in SSc patients compared with controls.
SSc is not associated with an increased prevalence of early signs of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC2453769  PMID: 18439295
18.  Reduced number and impaired function of circulating progenitor cells in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is associated with premature and accelerated atherosclerosis. Circulating progenitor cells (CPCs) are circulating bone-marrow derived cells that play an important role in the repair of vascular damage that underlies the development of atherosclerosis. The objective of this study was to determine the number and functionality of CPCs in patients with SLE. The study included 44 female SLE patients in an inactive stage of disease and 35 age-matched female controls. CPC numbers in the circulation were determined by FACS with monoclonals against CD14, CD34 and CD133. Peripheral blood-derived mononuclear cell (PBMNC) fractions were cultured in angiogenic medium. The endothelial-like phenotype was confirmed and the colony forming unit (CFU) capacity, migratory capacity and the potential to form clusters on Matrigel were determined. Expression of apoptosis inhibiting caspase 8L was analyzed in PBMNCs and CPCs by gene transcript and protein expression assays. The number of CD34–CD133 double-positive cells (P < 0.001) as well as the CFU capacity (P = 0.048) was reduced in SLE patients. Migratory activity on tumor necrosis factor-α tended to be reduced in patient CPCs (P = 0.08). Migration on vascular endothelial growth factor showed no significant differences, nor were differences observed in the potential to form clusters on Matrigel. The expression of caspase 8L was reduced at the transcriptional level (P = 0.049) and strongly increased at the protein level after culture (P = 0.003). We conclude that CPC numbers are reduced in SLE patients and functionality is partly impaired. We suggest these findings reflect increased susceptibility to apoptosis of CPCs from SLE patients.
PMCID: PMC2206388  PMID: 17764548
19.  Is disturbed clearance of apoptotic keratinocytes responsible for UVB-induced inflammatory skin lesions in systemic lupus erythematosus? 
Apoptotic cells are thought to play an essential role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We hypothesise that delayed or altered clearance of apoptotic cells after UV irradiation will lead to inflammation in the skin of SLE patients. Fifteen SLE patients and 13 controls were irradiated with two minimal erythemal doses (MEDs) of ultraviolet B light (UVB). Subsequently, skin biopsies were analysed (immuno)histologically, over 10 days, for numbers of apoptotic cells, T cells, macrophages, and deposition of immunoglobulin and complement. Additionally, to compare results with cutaneous lesions of SLE patients, 20 biopsies of lupus erythematosus (LE) skin lesions were analysed morphologically for apoptotic cells and infiltrate. Clearance rate of apoptotic cells after irradiation did not differ between patients and controls. Influx of macrophages in dermal and epidermal layers was significantly increased in patients compared with controls. Five out of 15 patients developed a dermal infiltrate that was associated with increased epidermal influx of T cells and macrophages but not with numbers of apoptotic cells or epidermal deposition of immunoglobulins. Macrophages were ingesting multiple apoptotic bodies. Inflammatory lesions in these patients were localised near accumulations of apoptotic keratinocytes similar as was seen in the majority of LE skin lesions. In vivo clearance rate of apoptotic cells is comparable between SLE patients and controls. However, the presence of inflammatory lesions in the vicinity of apoptotic cells, as observed both in UVB-induced and in LE skin lesions in SLE patients, suggests that these lesions result from an inflammatory clearance of apoptotic cells.
PMCID: PMC1794497  PMID: 17014704

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