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1.  Exploring necrotizing autoimmune myopathies with a novel immunoassay for anti-3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase autoantibodies 
Introduction
Necrotizing autoimmune myopathies (NAM) have recently been defined as a distinct group of severe acquired myopathies, characterized by prominent myofiber necrosis without significant muscle inflammation. Because of the lack of appropriate biomarkers, these diseases have been long misdiagnosed as atypical forms of myositis. NAM may be associated to autoantibodies directed against signal recognition particle (SRP) or 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR). The objective of this work was to quantify anti-HMGCR autoantibodies in patients with suspicion of NAM through the development of a new addressable laser bead immunoassay (ALBIA).
Methods
Recombinant HMGCR C-domain was bound to fluorescent beads. After incubation with serum, autoantibodies were revealed using class- or subclass-specific anti-human immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies. Anti-HMGCR levels were assayed in 150 patients with suspicion of NAM, 142 controls with different inflammatory/autoimmune diseases and 100 healthy donors. Inhibition with free recombinant HMGCR and immunoprecipitation experiments confirmed test specificity. Reproducibility and repeatability were determined from sera with various levels of anti-HMGCR autoantibodies. A multiplex assay (ALBIA-NAM) was also developed to permit the simultaneous quantification of anti-HMGCR and anti-signal recognition particle autoantibodies.
Results
No controls scored positive. Of 150 patients with suspicion of NAM, 24% were positive for anti-HMGCR autoantibodies with levels ranging from 24 to 2,656 AU/mL. Anti-HMGCR positivity could be associated to a cytoplasmic pattern in immunofluorescence assay on HEp-2 cells. Anti-HMGCR-positive patients had high creatine kinase (CK) levels (mean 6,630 IU/L) and only 40% of them had been exposed to statins. Multiplex ALBIA-NAM was equally as effective as monoplex anti-HMGCR and anti-SRP ALBIA.
Conclusions
Both monoplex ALBIA-HMGCR and multiplex ALBIA-NAM reliably detect and quantify anti-HMGCR autoantibodies. A positive result allows ascribing patients with a necrotizing myopathy to an autoimmune form. Anti-HMGCR autoantibodies may be found in patients who have not taken statins.
doi:10.1186/ar4468
PMCID: PMC3979083  PMID: 24484965
2.  B lymphocytes and B-cell activating factor promote collagen and profibrotic markers expression by dermal fibroblasts in systemic sclerosis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R168.
Introduction
B lymphocytes might play a pathogenic role in dermal fibrosis in systemic sclerosis (SSc). B-cell activating factor (BAFF), a key cytokine for B-cell activation, is increased in the serum and the skin of patients with SSc. However, the ability of B cells directly to stimulate dermal fibroblasts and the role of BAFF are not fully understood. We therefore investigated the involvement of B cells and BAFF in the expression of collagen and profibrotic markers by dermal fibroblasts.
Methods
Cocultures of blood B cells from healthy blood donors and normal or SSc dermal fibroblasts stimulated with anti-IgM and BAFF were performed. Alpha-SMA, TIMP1, MMP9, COL1A1, COL1A2, and COL3A1 mRNA expression were determined by quantitative RT-PCR. Soluble collagen, BAFF, IL-6, IL-1β, TGF-β1, and CCL2 protein secretion were assessed.
Results
Coculture of blood B cells and dermal fibroblasts isolated from SSc patients induced IL-6, TGF-β1, CCL2, and collagen secretion, as well as Alpha-SMA, TIMP1, and MMP9 expression in dermal fibroblasts. Transwell assays demonstrated that this induction was dependent on cell-cell contact. Addition of anti-IgM and BAFF to the coculture increased IL-6, CCL2, TGF-β1, and collagen secretion. B cell- and BAFF-induced collagen secretion was highly reduced by anti-TGF-β1 antibodies.
Conclusions
Our results showed for the first time a direct role of B cells on the production of collagen by dermal fibroblasts, which is further enhanced by BAFF. Thus, these results demonstrate a new pathogenic role of B cells and BAFF in fibrosis and systemic sclerosis.
doi:10.1186/ar4352
PMCID: PMC3978899  PMID: 24289101
3.  Erectile dysfunction is frequent in systemic sclerosis and associated with severe disease: a study of the EULAR Scleroderma Trial and Research group 
Introduction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is common in men with systemic sclerosis (SSc) but the demographics, risk factors and treatment coverage for ED are not well known.
Method
This study was carried out prospectively in the multinational EULAR Scleroderma Trial and Research database by amending the electronic data-entry system with the International Index of Erectile Function-5 and items related to ED risk factors and treatment. Centres participating in this EULAR Scleroderma Trial and Research substudy were asked to recruit patients consecutively.
Results
Of the 130 men studied, only 23 (17.7%) had a normal International Index of Erectile Function-5 score. Thirty-eight per cent of all participants had severe ED (International Index of Erectile Function-5 score ≤ 7). Men with ED were significantly older than subjects without ED (54.8 years vs. 43.3 years, P < 0.001) and more frequently had simultaneous non-SSc-related risk factors such as alcohol consumption. In 82% of SSc patients, the onset of ED was after the manifestation of the first non-Raynaud's symptom (median delay 4.1 years). ED was associated with severe cutaneous, muscular or renal involvement of SSc, elevated pulmonary pressures and restrictive lung disease. ED was treated in only 27.8% of men. The most common treatment was sildenafil, whose efficacy is not established in ED of SSc patients.
Conclusions
Severe ED is a common and early problem in men with SSc. Physicians should address modifiable risk factors actively. More research into the pathophysiology, longitudinal development, treatment and psychosocial impact of ED is needed.
doi:10.1186/ar3748
PMCID: PMC3392836  PMID: 22348608
4.  Innate immunity triggers IL-32 expression by fibroblast-like synoviocytes in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(4):R135.
Introduction
Interleukin-32 (IL-32) is a recently described cytokine that is a strong inducer of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-8. The expression of this cytokine is highly increased in the rheumatoid synovium and correlated with the severity of joint inflammation. Little is known regarding the innate immune-related regulation of IL-32 by fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs). We therefore investigated the effect of innate immune stimulation by ligands of Toll-like receptor (TLR)2, TLR3, and TLR4, and cytokines such as TNF-α and interferon (IFN)-γ, on IL-32 expression by FLSs.
Methods
FLSs were isolated from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) according to the ACR criteria. Quantitative RT-PCR, confocal analysis, and ELISA were performed to evaluate IL-32 mRNA induction and IL-32 release by FLSs stimulated with TLR2 (BLP), TLR3 (poly I:C), and TLR4 (lipopolysaccharide) ligands, TNF-α and IFN-γ.
Results
TLR2, -3, and -4 ligands as well as IFN-γ and TNF-α induced IL-32 β, γ and δ mRNA expression by RA FLSs. Mature IL-32 was expressed intracellularly and released by cells stimulated with the various activators. The IL-32α isoform was expressed intracellularly in response to TNF-α and poly I:C and not released in culture supernatants. Stimulation of FLS with TNF-α, BLP, lipopolysaccharide, or poly I:C concomitant with IFN-γ increased IL-32 expression compared with stimulation with IFN-γ alone.
Conclusions
IL-32 synthesis by FLSs is tightly regulated by innate immunity in rheumatoid arthritis. Thus TNF-α, IFN-γ, double-strand RNA, hyaluronic acid, or other damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), highly secreted in synovial tissues of RA patients, might trigger IL-32 secretion by FLSs. IL-32 might therefore represent a relevant therapeutic target in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar3073
PMCID: PMC2945025  PMID: 20615213
5.  Work disability remains a major problem in rheumatoid arthritis in the 2000s: data from 32 countries in the QUEST-RA Study 
Introduction
Work disability is a major consequence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), associated not only with traditional disease activity variables, but also more significantly with demographic, functional, occupational, and societal variables. Recent reports suggest that the use of biologic agents offers potential for reduced work disability rates, but the conclusions are based on surrogate disease activity measures derived from studies primarily from Western countries.
Methods
The Quantitative Standard Monitoring of Patients with RA (QUEST-RA) multinational database of 8,039 patients in 86 sites in 32 countries, 16 with high gross domestic product (GDP) (>24K US dollars (USD) per capita) and 16 low-GDP countries (<11K USD), was analyzed for work and disability status at onset and over the course of RA and clinical status of patients who continued working or had stopped working in high-GDP versus low-GDP countries according to all RA Core Data Set measures. Associations of work disability status with RA Core Data Set variables and indices were analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analyses.
Results
At the time of first symptoms, 86% of men (range 57%-100% among countries) and 64% (19%-87%) of women <65 years were working. More than one third (37%) of these patients reported subsequent work disability because of RA. Among 1,756 patients whose symptoms had begun during the 2000s, the probabilities of continuing to work were 80% (95% confidence interval (CI) 78%-82%) at 2 years and 68% (95% CI 65%-71%) at 5 years, with similar patterns in high-GDP and low-GDP countries. Patients who continued working versus stopped working had significantly better clinical status for all clinical status measures and patient self-report scores, with similar patterns in high-GDP and low-GDP countries. However, patients who had stopped working in high-GDP countries had better clinical status than patients who continued working in low-GDP countries. The most significant identifier of work disability in all subgroups was Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) functional disability score.
Conclusions
Work disability rates remain high among people with RA during this millennium. In low-GDP countries, people remain working with high levels of disability and disease activity. Cultural and economic differences between societies affect work disability as an outcome measure for RA.
doi:10.1186/ar2951
PMCID: PMC2888189  PMID: 20226018
6.  Broad-range PCR, cloning and sequencing of the full 16S rRNA gene for detection of bacterial DNA in synovial fluid samples of Tunisian patients with reactive and undifferentiated arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R102.
Introduction
Broad-range rDNA PCR provides an alternative, cultivation-independent approach for identifying bacterial DNA in reactive and other form of arthritis. The aim of this study was to use broad-range rDNA PCR targeting the 16S rRNA gene in patients with reactive and other forms of arthritis and to screen for the presence of DNA from any given bacterial species in synovial fluid (SF) samples.
Methods
We examined the SF samples from a total of 27 patients consisting of patients with reactive arthritis (ReA) (n = 5), undifferentiated arthritis (UA) (n = 9), rheumatoid arthritis (n = 7), and osteoarthritis (n = 6) of which the latter two were used as controls. Using broad-range bacterial PCR amplifying a 1400 bp fragment from the 16S rRNA gene, we identified and sequenced at least 24 clones from each SF sample. To identify the corresponding bacteria, DNA sequences were compared to the EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) database.
Results
Bacterial DNA was identified in 20 of the 27 SF samples (74, 10%). Analysis of a large number of sequences revealed the presence of DNA from more than one single bacterial species in the SF of all patients studied. The nearly complete sequences of the 1400 bp were obtained for most of the detected species. DNA of bacterial species including Shigella species, Escherichia species, and other coli-form bacteria as well as opportunistic pathogens such as Stenotrophomonas maltophilia and Achromobacter xylosoxidans were shared in all arthritis patients. Among pathogens described to trigger ReA, DNA from Shigella sonnei was found in ReA and UA patients. We also detected DNA from rarely occurring human pathogens such as Aranicola species and Pantoea ananatis. We also found DNA from bacteria so far not described in human infections such as Bacillus niacini, Paenibacillus humicus, Diaphorobacter species and uncultured bacterium genera incertae sedis OP10.
Conclusions
Broad-range PCR followed by cloning and sequencing the entire 16S rDNA, allowed the identification of the bacterial DNA environment in the SF samples of arthritic patients. We found a wide spectrum of bacteria including those known to be involved in ReA and others not previously associated with arthritis.
doi:10.1186/ar2748
PMCID: PMC2745777  PMID: 19570210
7.  Masitinib in the treatment of active rheumatoid arthritis: results of a multicentre, open-label, dose-ranging, phase 2a study 
Introduction
Since current treatment options for patients suffering from active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remain inadequate, especially for those unresponsive to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), new and improved medication is needed. This study evaluates the safety and efficacy of masitinib (AB1010), a potent and selective protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor of c-KIT, in the monotherapy treatment of DMARD-refractory RA.
Methods
This was a multicentre, uncontrolled, open-label, randomised, dose-ranging, phase 2a trial. Masitinib was administered orally to 43 patients who had inadequate response to DMARDs, at initial randomised dosing levels of 3 and 6 mg/kg per day over a 12-week period. Dose adjustment was permitted based upon tolerability and response criteria. Efficacy was assessed via American College of Rheumatology 20%/50%/70% improvement criteria (ACR20/50/70) responses, disease activity score using 28 joint counts (DAS28), index of improvement in RA (ACRn) and C-reactive protein (CRP) improvement, relative to baseline at week 12.
Results
Improvement was observed in all efficacy endpoints, including ACR20/50/70 scores of 54%, 26% and 8%, respectively, and a reduction in CRP level by greater than 50% for approximately half the population. This improvement was sustainable throughout an extension phase (> 84 weeks) and was also independent of initial DMARD resistance (anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha and/or methotrexate). A relatively high patient withdrawal rate (37%) required the use of last observation carried forward (LOCF) data imputation. Incidence of adverse events was high (95%), although the majority were of mild or moderate severity with a considerable decline in frequency observed after 12 weeks of treatment. Two nonfatal serious adverse events were reported. Dose-response analyses tentatively indicate that an initial dosing level of 6.0 mg/kg per day administered orally in two daily intakes is the most appropriate, based upon potency and tolerability trends.
Conclusions
Treatment with masitinib improved DMARD-refractory active RA. Following an initial high incidence of mostly mild to moderate side effects during the first 12 weeks of treatment, masitinib appears to be generally well tolerated. This, together with evidence of a sustainable efficacy response, suggests that masitinib is suitable for long-term treatment regimens. Since this was the first study of masitinib in a nononcologic pathology, the relatively high patient withdrawal rate observed can be partly attributed to a highly cautious response to adverse events. There is sufficient compelling evidence to warrant further placebo-controlled investigation.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00831922.
doi:10.1186/ar2740
PMCID: PMC2714151  PMID: 19549290
8.  Microparticle-induced release of B-lymphocyte regulators by rheumatoid synoviocytes 
Introduction
In the present study, we investigated the ability of microparticles isolated from synovial fluids from patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis to induce the synthesis and release of key cytokines of B-lymphocyte modulation such as B cell-activating factor, thymic stroma lymphopoietin, and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor by rheumatoid fibroblast-like synoviocytes.
Methods
Microparticles were analyzed in synovial fluids from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, microcristalline arthritis, and reactive arthritis. In addition, microparticle release after activation from various cell lines (CEM lymphocyte and THP-1 cells) was assessed. Microparticles were isolated by differential centrifugation, and quantitative determinations were carried out by prothrombinase assay after capture on immobilized annexin V. B cell-activating factor, thymic stroma lymphopoietin, and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor release was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results
Microparticles isolated from synovial fluids obtained from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis patients or microparticles derived from activated THP-1 cells were able to induce B cell-activating factor, thymic stroma lymphopoietin, and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor release by rheumatoid arthritis fibroblast-like synoviocytes. Conversely, CEM-lymphocytes-derived microparticles generated by treatment with a combination of PHA, PMA and Adt-D did not promote the release of B cell-activating factor but favored the secretion of thymic stroma lymphopoietin and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor by rheumatoid arthritis fibrobast-like synoviocytes. However, microparticles isolated from actinomycin D-treated CEM lymphocytes were not able to induce B cell-activating factor, thymic stroma lymphopoietin, or secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor release, indicating that microparticles derived from apoptotic T cells do not function as effectors in B-cell activation.
Conclusions
These results demonstrate that microparticles are signalling structures that may act as specific conveyors in the triggered induction and amplification of autoimmunity. This study also indicates that microparticles have differential effects in the crosstalk between B lymphocytes and target cells of autoimmunity regarding the parental cells from which they derive.
doi:10.1186/ar2648
PMCID: PMC2688187  PMID: 19291304
9.  Women, men, and rheumatoid arthritis: analyses of disease activity, disease characteristics, and treatments in the QUEST-RA Study 
Introduction
Gender as a predictor of outcomes of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has evoked considerable interest over the decades. Historically, there is no consensus whether RA is worse in females or males. Recent reports suggest that females are less likely than males to achieve remission. Therefore, we aimed to study possible associations of gender and disease activity, disease characteristics, and treatments of RA in a large multinational cross-sectional cohort of patients with RA called Quantitative Standard Monitoring of Patients with RA (QUEST-RA).
Methods
The cohort includes clinical and questionnaire data from patients who were seen in usual care, including 6,004 patients at 70 sites in 25 countries as of April 2008. Gender differences were analyzed for American College of Rheumatology Core Data Set measures of disease activity, DAS28 (disease activity score using 28 joint counts), fatigue, the presence of rheumatoid factor, nodules and erosions, and the current use of prednisone, methotrexate, and biologic agents.
Results
Women had poorer scores than men in all Core Data Set measures. The mean values for females and males were swollen joint count-28 (SJC28) of 4.5 versus 3.8, tender joint count-28 of 6.9 versus 5.4, erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 30 versus 26, Health Assessment Questionnaire of 1.1 versus 0.8, visual analog scales for physician global estimate of 3.0 versus 2.5, pain of 4.3 versus 3.6, patient global status of 4.2 versus 3.7, DAS28 of 4.3 versus 3.8, and fatigue of 4.6 versus 3.7 (P < 0.001). However, effect sizes were small-medium and smallest (0.13) for SJC28. Among patients who had no or minimal disease activity (0 to 1) on SJC28, women had statistically significantly higher mean values compared with men in all other disease activity measures (P < 0.001) and met DAS28 remission less often than men. Rheumatoid factor was equally prevalent among genders. Men had nodules more often than women. Women had erosions more often than men, but the statistical significance was marginal. Similar proportions of females and males were taking different therapies.
Conclusions
In this large multinational cohort, RA disease activity measures appear to be worse in women than in men. However, most of the gender differences in RA disease activity may originate from the measures of disease activity rather than from RA disease activity itself.
doi:10.1186/ar2591
PMCID: PMC2688237  PMID: 19144159
10.  Prognostic factors of 10-year radiographic outcome in early rheumatoid arthritis: a prospective study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(5):R106.
Introduction
The objectives of this study were to determine the predictive factors of long-term radiographic outcome of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to describe the relationship between joint damage and disability over the course of the disease.
Methods
A cohort of 191 patients with early RA referred from primary care physicians were prospectively followed for 10 years. To determine the predictive factors of radiographic outcome, univariate analysis of the relationship between baseline values and outcome measures was undertaken using a chi-squared or Fisher's exact test. Stepwise multiple logistic regression was also performed to select independent prognostic factors.
Results
From data available for 112 patients, univariate analysis revealed a total Sharp score at 10 years that was significantly correlated with erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), presence and level of IgA rheumatoid factor, presence of an anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA), serum level of matrix metalloproteinase-3 and radiographic score at baseline. Logistic regression identified the baseline erosion score to be the most important baseline parameter as an independent prognostic factor of total radiographic score at 10 years (odds ratio = 5.64; 95% confidence interval = 1.78 to 17.86). After excluding radiographic scores from the entry parameters, the presence of ACPA and ESR were also predictive of the final total Sharp score. The Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) score was strongly correlated with disease activity parameters, such as disease activity score and pain, at baseline and at three, five and 10 years. No correlation was found between total radiographic Sharp score and HAQ score throughout the study.
Conclusions
In this prospective study, baseline radiographic score, ESR and ACPA were the best predictive factors of 10-year radiographic outcome in early RA. HAQ disability was associated with disease activity throughout the 10-year follow-up but not with joint damage. This discrepancy with previous reports may be due in part to the early start of therapy with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.
doi:10.1186/ar2498
PMCID: PMC2592783  PMID: 18771585
11.  Analysis of bacterial DNA in synovial tissue of Tunisian patients with reactive and undifferentiated arthritis by broad-range PCR, cloning and sequencing 
Introduction
Bacteria and/or their antigens have been implicated in the pathogenesis of reactive arthritis (ReA). Several studies have reported the presence of bacterial antigens and nucleic acids of bacteria other than those specified by diagnostic criteria for ReA in joint specimens from patients with ReA and various arthritides. The present study was conducted to detect any bacterial DNA and identify bacterial species that are present in the synovial tissue of Tunisian patients with reactive arthritis and undifferentiated arthritis (UA) using PCR, cloning and sequencing.
Methods
We examined synovial tissue samples from 28 patients: six patients with ReA and nine with UA, and a control group consisting of seven patients with rheumatoid arthritis and six with osteoarthritis (OA). Using broad-range bacterial PCR producing a 1,400-base-pair fragment from the 16S rRNA gene, at least 24 clones were sequenced for each synovial tissue sample. To identify the corresponding bacteria, DNA sequences were compared with sequences from the EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) database.
Results
Bacterial DNA was detected in 75% of the 28 synovial tissue samples. DNA from 68 various bacterial species were found in ReA and UA samples, whereas DNA from 12 bacteria were detected in control group samples. Most of the bacterial DNAs detected were from skin or intestinal bacteria. DNA from bacteria known to trigger ReA, such as Shigella flexneri and Shigella sonnei, were detected in ReA and UA samples of synovial tissue and not in control samples. DNA from various bacterial species detected in this study have not previously been found in synovial samples.
Conclusion
This study is the first to use broad-range PCR targeting the full 16S rRNA gene for detection of bacterial DNA in synovial tissue. We detected DNA from a wide spectrum of bacterial species, including those known to be involved in ReA and others not previously associated with ReA or related arthritis. The pathogenic significance of some of these intrasynovial bacterial DNAs remains unclear.
doi:10.1186/ar2398
PMCID: PMC2453759  PMID: 18412942
12.  CTLA-4 +49A/G and CT60 gene polymorphisms in primary Sjögren syndrome 
CTLA-4 encodes cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4, a cell-surface molecule providing a negative signal for T-cell activation. CTLA-4 gene polymorphisms have been widely studied in connection with genetic susceptibility to various autoimmune diseases, but studies have led to contradictory results in different populations. This case-control study sought to investigate whether CTLA-4 CT60 and/or +49A/G polymorphisms were involved in the genetic predisposition to primary Sjögren syndrome (pSS). We analysed CTLA-4 CT60 and +49A/G polymorphisms in a first cohort of 142 patients with pSS (cohort 1) and 241 controls, all of Caucasian origin. A replication study was performed on a second cohort of 139 patients with pSS (cohort 2). In cohort 1, the CTLA-4 +49A/G*A allele was found on 73% of chromosomes in patients with pSS, compared with 66% in controls (p = 0.036; odds ratio (OR) 1.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02 to 1.95). No difference in CTLA-4 CT60 allelic or genotypic distribution was observed between patients (n = 142) and controls (n = 241). In the replication cohort, the CTLA-4 +49A/G*A allele was found on 62% of chromosomes in patients with pSS, compared with 66% in controls (p = 0.30; OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.16). Thus, the CTLA-4 +49A/G*A allele excess among patients from cohort 1 was counterbalanced by its under-representation in cohort 2. When the results from the patients in both cohorts were pooled (n = 281), there was no difference in CTLA-4 +49A/G allelic or genotypic distribution in comparison with controls. Our results demonstrate a lack of association between CTLA-4 CT60 or +49A/G polymorphisms and pSS. Premature conclusions might have been made if a replication study had not been performed. These results illustrate the importance of case-control studies performed on a large number of patients. In fact, sampling bias may account for some contradictory results previously reported for CTLA-4 association studies in autoimmune diseases.
doi:10.1186/ar2136
PMCID: PMC1906800  PMID: 17341301
13.  Serial determination of cyclic citrullinated peptide autoantibodies predicted five-year radiological outcomes in a prospective cohort of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis 
The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential of serially determined anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibodies for predicting structural joint damage in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), compared to a single baseline determination. Ninety-nine RA patients with disease durations of less than one year and no history of disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy were followed prospectively for at least five years. Anti-CCP2 concentrations were measured using a second-generation ELISA. Sharp scores as modified by van der Heijde were determined on hand and foot radiographs. Anti-CCP2 antibodies were detected in 55.5% of patients at baseline and 63.6% at any time during the first three years. Presence of anti-CCP2 at any time during the first three years was associated with radiographic damage at baseline (odds ratio (OR), 3.66; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.99–13.54) and with five year progression of the total Sharp score (OR, 3.17; 95% CI, 1.3–7.7), erosion score (OR, 5.3; 95% CI, 1.4–19.2) and joint space narrowing score (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.15–6.8). The presence of anti-CCP2 or IgM RF at baseline did not predict these outcomes. Patients with negative anti-CCP2 tests throughout follow-up had less radiographic progression than patients with increasing anti-CCP2 concentrations; they did not differ from patients with decreasing anti-CCP2 antibody levels. HLADRB1* typing showed that progression of the mean modified Sharp score was not correlated with the presence of the shared epitope alleles. In conclusion, serially determined anti-CCP2 antibodies during the first three years of follow-up performs better than baseline determination for predicting radiographic progression in patients with early RA.
doi:10.1186/ar1896
PMCID: PMC1526612  PMID: 16469118
14.  No evidence for an association between the -871 T/C promoter polymorphism in the B-cell-activating factor gene and primary Sjögren's syndrome 
Polyclonal B cell activation might be related to pathogenic over-expression of B-cell-activating factor (BAFF) in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) and other autoimmune diseases. We therefore investigated whether BAFF over-expression in pSS could be a primary, genetically determined event that leads to the disease. The complete BAFF gene was sequenced in Caucasian pSS patients and control individuals. The only single nucleotide polymorphism frequently observed, namely -871 T/C in the promoter region, was then genotyped in 162 French patients with pSS and 90 French control individuals. No significant differences in allele (T allele frequency: 49.7% in patients with pSS versus 50% in controls; P = 0.94) and genotype frequencies of BAFF polymorphism were detected between pSS patients and control individuals. BAFF gene polymorphism was not associated with a specific pattern of antibody secretion either. T allele carriers had significantly increased BAFF protein serum levels (mean values of 8.6 and 5.7 ng/ml in patients with TT and TC genotypes, respectively, versus 3.3 ng/ml in patients with CC genotype; P = 0.01), although no correlation was observed between BAFF polymorphism and mRNA level. In conclusion, BAFF gene polymorphism is neither involved in genetic predisposition to pSS nor associated with a specific pattern of antibody production.
doi:10.1186/ar1884
PMCID: PMC1526574  PMID: 16507129
15.  Systemic lupus erythematosus induced by anti-tumour necrosis factor alpha therapy: a French national survey 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(3):R545-R551.
The development of drug-induced lupus remains a matter of concern in patients treated with anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) alpha. The incidence of such adverse effects is unknown. We undertook a retrospective national study to analyse such patients.
Between June and October 2003, 866 rheumatology and internal medicine practitioners from all French hospital centres prescribing anti-TNF in rheumatic diseases registered on the website of the 'Club Rhumatismes et Inflammation' were contacted by email to obtain the files of patients with TNF-induced systemic lupus erythematosus. Twenty-two cases were collected, revealing two aspects of these manifestations. Ten patients (six patients receiving infliximab, four patients receiving etanercept) only had anti-DNA antibodies and skin manifestations one could classify as 'limited skin lupus' or 'toxidermia' in a context of autoimmunity, whereas 12 patients (nine patients receiving infliximab, three patients receiving etanercept) had more complete drug-induced lupus with systemic manifestations and at least four American Congress of Rheumatology criteria. One patient had central nervous system manifestations. No patients had lupus nephritis. The signs of lupus occurred within a mean of 9 months (range 3–16 months) in patients treated with infliximab and within a mean of 4 months (range 2–5 months) in patients treated with etanercept. In all cases after diagnosis was determined, anti-TNF was stopped and specific treatment introduced in eight patients: two patients received intravenous methylprednisolone, four patients received oral steroids (15–35 mg/day), and two patients received topical steroids. Lupus manifestations abated within a few weeks (median 8 weeks, standard deviation 3–16) in all patients except one with longer-lasting evolution (6 months). At that time, cautious estimations (unpublished data from Schering Plough Inc. and Wyeth Inc.) indicated that about 7700 patients had been exposed to infliximab and 3000 to etanercept for inflammatory arthritides in France. It thus appears that no drug was more implicated than the other in lupus syndromes, whose incidence was 15/7700 = 0.19% with infliximab and 7/3800 = 0.18% with etanercept.
Clinicians should be aware that lupus syndromes with systemic manifestations may occur in patients under anti-TNF alpha treatment.
doi:10.1186/ar1715
PMCID: PMC1174953  PMID: 15899041
16.  MMP-3 expression and release by rheumatoid arthritis fibroblast-like synoviocytes induced with a bacterial ligand of integrin α5β1 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;7(1):R118-R126.
Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) play a major role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by secreting effector molecules that promote inflammation and joint destruction. How these cells become and remain activated is still elusive. Both genetic and environmental factors probably play a role in transforming FLSs into inflammatory matrix-degrading cells. As bacterial products have been detected in the joint and shown to trigger joint inflammation, this study was undertaken to investigate whether a bacterial ligand of integrin α5β1, protein I/II, could contribute to the aggressive behavior of RA FLSs. Protein I/II is a pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) isolated from oral streptococci that have been identified in the joints of RA patients. The response of RA and osteoarthritis FLSs to protein I/II was analyzed using human cancer cDNA expression arrays. RT-PCR and pro-MMP-3 (pro-matrix metalloproteinase) assays were then performed to confirm the up-regulation of gene expression. Protein I/II modulated about 6% of all profiled genes. Three of these, those encoding IL-6, leukemia inhibitory factor, and MMP-3, showed a high expression level in all RA FLSs tested, whereas the expression of genes encoding other members of the cytokine or MMP-family was not affected. Furthermore, the up-regulation of MMP-3 gene expression was followed by an increase of pro-MMP-3 release. The expression of interferon regulatory factor 1 and fibroblast growth factor-5 was also up-regulated, although the expression levels were lower. Only one gene, that for insulin-like growth factor binding protein-4, was down-regulated in all RA FLSs. In contrast, in osteoarthritis FLSs only one gene, that for IL-6, was modulated. These results suggest that a bacterial ligand of integrin α5β1 may contribute to the aggressive behavior of RA FLSs by inducing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and a cartilage-degrading enzyme, such as IL-6 and MMP-3, respectively.
doi:10.1186/ar1462
PMCID: PMC1064889  PMID: 15642131
fibroblast-like synoviocytes; integrin α5β1; MMP-3; PAMP

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