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1.  Type I interferon pathway in adult and juvenile dermatomyositis 
Gene expression profiling and protein studies of the type I interferon pathway have revealed important insights into the disease process in adult and juvenile dermatomyositis. The most prominent and consistent feature has been a characteristic whole blood gene signature indicating upregulation of the type I interferon pathway. Upregulation of the type I interferon protein signature has added additional markers of disease activity and insight into the pathogenesis of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3334651  PMID: 22192711
2.  Mechanisms of tissue injury in lupus nephritis 
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a prototypic autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production and immune complex formation/deposition in target organs such as the kidney. Resultant local inflammation then leads to organ damage. Nephritis, a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with lupus, occurs in approximately 50% of lupus patients. In the present review, we provide an overview of the current research and knowledge concerning mechanisms of renal injury in both lupus-prone mouse models and human lupus patients.
PMCID: PMC3334648  PMID: 22192660
3.  The 2011 ACR Meeting: what's new in the Windy City 
PMCID: PMC3334652  PMID: 22192758
4.  IL-21 and Sjögren's syndrome 
Treatment of Sjögren's syndrome is almost entirely symptomatic. A lack of true understanding of the underlying immunological pathology of the disease prevents directed therapy. Interleukin-21 (IL-21) is elevated in the serum of patients with this disease and is expressed by the lymphocytes infiltrating the salivary glands. The known functions of IL-21 in facilitating differentiation, proliferation, and survival of both B and T cells mesh well with the findings in Sjögren's syndrome. Demonstration of IL-21 as a fundamental aspect of the pathophysiology of Sjögren's syndrome could lead to the development of anti-IL-21 therapy for this disease.
PMCID: PMC3334639  PMID: 22226370
5.  Imaging modalities in hand osteoarthritis - status and perspectives of conventional radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasonography 
Hand osteoarthritis (OA) is very frequent in middle-aged and older women and men in the general population. Currently, owing to high feasibility and low costs, conventional radiography (CR) is the method of choice for evaluation of hand OA. CR provides a two-dimensional picture of bony changes, such as osteophytes, erosions, cysts, and sclerosis, and joint space narrowing as an indirect measure of cartilage loss. There are several standardized scoring methods for evaluation of radiographic hand OA. The scales have shown similar reliability, validity, and sensitivity to change, and no conclusion about the preferred instrument has been drawn. Patients with hand OA may experience pain, stiffness, and physical disability, but the associations between radiographic findings and clinical symptoms are weak to moderate and vary across studies. OA is, indeed, recognized to involve the whole joint, and modern imaging techniques such as ultrasound (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could be valuable tools for better evaluation of hand OA. Standardized scoring methods have been proposed for both modalities. Several studies have examined the validity of US features in hand OA, whereas knowledge of the validity of MRI is more limited. However, both synovitis (detected by either US or MRI) and MRI-defined bone marrow lesions have been associated with pain, indicating that treatment of inflammation is important for pain management in hand OA. Both US and MRI have shown better sensitivity than CR in detection of erosions, and this may indicate that erosive hand OA may be more common than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC3334630  PMID: 22189142
6.  T cells as key players for bone destruction in gouty arthritis? 
The deposition of monosodium urate (MSU) crystals in synovial fluid and tissue leads to gouty arthritis frequently associated with synovial inflammation and bone erosions. The cellular mechanism that links MSU crystals to an increased number of osteoclasts has not yet been fully understood. In a recent issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy Lee and colleagues proposed that bone destruction in chronic gouty arthritis is at least in part dependent on expression by T cells of receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL). The authors showed that pro-resorptive cytokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNFα are expressed within tophi and stromal infiltrates. In vitro stimulation with MSU crystals revealed monocytes as a source for these cytokines, whereas T cells produce RANKL, the major trigger of osteoclastogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3334629  PMID: 22136246
7.  Beyond cognitive-behavioral therapy for fibromyalgia: addressing stress by emotional exposure, processing, and resolution 
I comment on the well-designed trial by Alda and colleagues reported in a recent issue of Arthritis Research and Therapy which demonstrated some benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for fibromyalgia (FM). CBT in this and other studies provides statistically significant but rather modest benefits for FM. This may be because CBT does not directly address the high rates of victimization, post-traumatic stress disorder, and emotional avoidance experienced by a substantial number of patients with FM. Interventions that encourage emotional exposure, processing, and resolution of stressful or traumatic experiences and relationships hold potential for larger effects for many patients and need to be tested.
PMCID: PMC3334632  PMID: 22132710
8.  Central pain contributions in osteoarthritis: next steps for improving recognition and treatment? 
There is increasing recognition that central pain sensitivity plays an important role in pain severity among patients with osteoarthritis. Murphy and colleagues identified clusters of patients with osteoarthritis according to pain severity and accompanying symptoms, and one of these groups appeared to have a greater degree of centrally mediated pain. This observation provides some evidence that patients with greater central pain contributions can be identified in routine clinical settings, but brief, evidence-based strategies are still needed to more readily and systematically identify these patients. There is also a need to develop new strategies and to further evaluate existing therapies (pharmacological and nonpharmacological) that target central aspects of osteoarthritis pain.
PMCID: PMC3334627  PMID: 22136200
9.  Why radiography should no longer be considered a surrogate outcome measure for longitudinal assessment of cartilage in knee osteoarthritis 
Imaging of cartilage has traditionally been achieved indirectly with conventional radiography. Loss of joint space width, or 'joint space narrowing', is considered a surrogate marker for cartilage thinning. However, radiography is severely limited by its inability to visualize cartilage, the difficulty of ascertaining the optimum and reproducible positioning of the joint in serial assessments, and the difficulty of grading joint space narrowing visually. With the availability of advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, new pulse sequences, and imaging techniques, direct visualization of cartilage has become possible. MRI enables visualization not only of cartilage but also of other important features of osteoarthritis simultaneously. 'Pre-radiographic' cartilage changes depicted by MRI can be measured reliably by a semiquantitative or quantitative approach. MRI enables accurate measurement of longitudinal changes in quantitative cartilage morphology in knee osteoarthritis. Moreover, compositional MRI allows imaging of 'pre-morphologic' changes (that is, visualization of subtle intrasubstance matrix changes before any obvious morphologic alterations occur). Detection of joint space narrowing on radiography seems outdated now that it is possible to directly visualize morphologic and pre-morphologic changes of cartilage by using conventional as well as complex MRI techniques.
PMCID: PMC3334624  PMID: 22136179
10.  Multiplex, megaplex, index, and complex: the present and future of laboratory diagnostics in rheumatology 
In a recent issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy, Chandra and colleagues described the use of multiple multiplex immunoassays and complex computer algorithms to investigate the possibility of improved laboratory diagnosis and novel classification of rheumatoid arthritis on the basis of biomarkers. Such complex predictive tools in rheumatology can be guided by the experience of multiplex testing in oncology, which has demonstrated the importance of uniform specimen handling and prospectively collected specimen repositories. Although there are high expectations for these complex approaches, they require careful evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3334626  PMID: 22129036
11.  Imaging in gout - What can we learn from MRI, CT, DECT and US? 
There are many exciting new applications for advanced imaging in gout. These modalities employ multiplanar imaging and allow computerized three-dimensional rendering of bone and joints (including tophi) and have the advantage of electronic data storage for later retrieval. High-resolution computed tomography has been particularly helpful in exploring the pathology of gout by investigating the relationship between bone erosions and tophi. Magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography can image the inflammatory nature of gouty arthropathy, revealing synovial and soft tissue inflammation, and can provide information about the composition and vascularity of tophi. Dual-energy computerized tomography is a new modality that is able to identify tophi by their chemical composition and reveal even small occult tophaceous deposits. All modalities are being investigated for their potential roles in diagnosis and could have important clinical applications in the patient for whom aspiration of monosodium urate crystals from the joint is not possible. Imaging can also provide outcome measures, such as change in tophus volume, for monitoring the response to urate-lowering therapy and this is an important application in the clinical trial setting.
PMCID: PMC3334625  PMID: 22085684
12.  Notochordal cells protect nucleus pulposus cells from degradation and apoptosis: implications for the mechanisms of intervertebral disc degeneration 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R215.
The relative resistance of non-chondrodystrophic (NCD) canines to degenerative disc disease (DDD) may be due to a combination of anabolic and anti-catabolic factors secreted by notochordal cells within the intervertebral disc (IVD) nucleus pulposus (NP). Factors known to induce DDD include interleukin-1 beta (IL-1ß) and/or Fas-Ligand (Fas-L). Therefore we evaluated the ability of notochordal cell conditioned medium (NCCM) to protect NP cells from IL-1ß and IL-1ß +FasL-mediated cell death and degeneration.
We cultured bovine NP cells with IL-1ß or IL-1ß+FasL under hypoxic serum-free conditions (3.5% O2) and treated the cells with either serum-free NCCM or basal medium (Advanced DMEM/F-12). We used flow cytometry to evaluate cell death and real-time (RT-)PCR to determine the gene expression of aggrecan, collagen 2, and link protein, mediators of matrix degradation ADAMTS-4 and MMP3, the matrix protection molecule TIMP1, the cluster of differentiation (CD)44 receptor, the inflammatory cytokine IL-6 and Ank. We then determined the expression of specific apoptotic pathways in bovine NP cells by characterizing the expression of activated caspases-3, -8 and -9 in the presence of IL-1ß+FasL when cultured with NCCM, conditioned medium obtained using bovine NP cells (BCCM), and basal medium all supplemented with 2% FBS.
NCCM inhibits bovine NP cell death and apoptosis via suppression of activated caspase-9 and caspase-3/7. Furthermore, NCCM protects NP cells from the degradative effects of IL-1ß and IL-1ß+Fas-L by up-regulating the expression of anabolic/matrix protective genes (aggrecan, collagen type 2, CD44, link protein and TIMP-1) and down-regulating matrix degrading genes such as MMP-3. Expression of ADAMTS-4, which encodes a protein for aggrecan remodeling, is increased. NCCM also protects against IL-1+FasL-mediated down-regulation of Ank expression. Furthermore, NP cells treated with NCCM in the presence of IL-1ß+Fas-L down-regulate the expression of IL-6 by almost 50%. BCCM does not mediate cell death/apoptosis in target bovine NP cells.
Notochordal cell-secreted factors suppress NP cell death by inhibition of activated caspase-9 and -3/7 activity and by up-regulating genes contributing anabolic activity and matrix protection of the IVD NP. Harnessing the restorative powers of the notochordal cell could lead to novel cellular and molecular strategies in the treatment of DDD.
PMCID: PMC3334668  PMID: 22206702
13.  Prevalence, correlates and clinical usefulness of antibodies to RNA polymerase III in systemic sclerosis: a cross-sectional analysis of data from an Australian cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R211.
The prevalence of antibodies to RNA polymerase III (anti-RNAP) differs among systemic sclerosis (SSc) cohorts worldwide. Previously reported associations of anti-RNAP include diffuse cutaneous disease, tendon friction rubs and renal crisis, with recent reports suggesting a close temporal association between malignancy and SSc disease onset among patients with anti-RNAP.
Patients with SSc were tested for the presence of anti-RNAP at recruitment into the Australian Scleroderma Cohort Study. We used univariate and multivariable methods to identify and quantify clinical and laboratory correlates of anti-RNAP in SSc. Diagnostic testing procedures were used to determine the usefulness of these antibodies in estimating the likelihood of clinically important outcomes.
There were 451 patients with mean ± standard deviation age and disease duration at recruitment of 58.1 ± 12.4 and 11.6 ± 10.0 years, respectively; 151 (33.5%) patients were recruited within 5 years of diagnosis of SSc. Overall, 69 (15.3%) patients had anti-RNAP. Univariate associations of anti-RNAP were diffuse disease (75.4% vs. 20.9%, P < 0.0001), joint contractures (73.9% vs. 30.1%, P < 0.0001), greater highest-recorded modified Rodnan skin score (20.6 ± 12.4 vs. 10.1 ± 7.9, P < 0.0001), synovitis (31.9% vs. 19.9%, P = 0.03), myositis (2.9% vs. 0.5%, P = 0.05), systemic hypertension (59.4% vs. 39.7%, P = 0.002), renal crisis (24.6% vs. 1.8%, P < 0.0001) and malignancy diagnosed within 5 years of onset of SSc skin disease (13.3% vs. 3.9%, P = 0.01). In multiple regression analysis, after adjustment for other covariates, anti-RNAP were independently associated with renal crisis (odds ratio (OR) 3.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2 to 11.5, P = 0.02; positive predictive value (PPV) 24.6%, negative predictive value (NPV) 98.2%), diffuse disease (OR 6.4, 95% CI 2.9 to 13.8, P < 0.0001; PPV 75.4%, NPV 20.9%), joint contractures (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.2 to 5.3, P = 0.02; PPV 73.9%, NPV 69.9%) and malignancy diagnosed within 5 years of onset of SSc skin disease (OR 4.2, 95% CI 1.3 to 13.4, P = 0.01; PPV 13.3%, NPV 96.1%).
Anti-RNAP status is a clinically useful prognostic marker in SSc and enables clinicians to identify patients at high risk of developing renal crisis, synovitis, myositis and joint contractures. Patients with anti-RNAP also have an increased risk of malignancy within a 5-year timeframe before or after onset of SSc skin changes.
PMCID: PMC3334664  PMID: 22189167
14.  IL-10 signaling in CD4+ T cells is critical for the pathogenesis of collagen-induced arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R212.
IL-10 is a very important anti-inflammatory cytokine. However, the role of this cytokine in T cells in the pathogenesis of collagen-induced arthritis is unclear. The purpose of this study was to define the role of IL-10 signaling in T cells in the pathogenesis of collagen-induced arthritis.
IL-10 receptor dominant-negative transgenic (Tg) and control mice were immunized with bovine type II collagen to induce arthritis. The severity of arthritis was monitored and examined histologically. T-cell activation and cytokine production were analyzed using flow cytometry. T-cell proliferation was examined by [3H]thymidine incorporation. Antigen-specific antibodies in serum were measured by ELISA. Foxp3 expression in CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) was determined by intracellular staining or Foxp3-RFP reporter mice. The suppressive function of Foxp3+CD4+ Tregs was determined in vitro by performing a T-cell proliferation assay. The level of IL-17 mRNA in joints was measured by real-time PCR. A two-tailed nonparametric paired test (Wilcoxon signed-rank test) was used to calculate the arthritis and histological scores. Student's paired or unpaired t-test was used for all other statistical analyses (InStat version 2.03 software; GraphPad Software, San Diego, CA, USA).
Blocking IL-10 signaling in T cells rendered mice, especially female mice, highly susceptible to collagen-induced arthritis. T-cell activation and proliferation were enhanced and produced more IFN-γ. The suppressive function of CD4+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells was significantly impaired in Tg mice because of the reduced ability of Tregs from Tg mice to maintain their levels of Foxp3. This was further confirmed by transferring Foxp3-RFP cells from Tg or wild-type (Wt) mice into a congenic Wt host. The higher level of IL-17 mRNA was detected in inflammatory joints of Tg mice, probably due to the recruitment of IL-17+γδ T cells into the arthritic joints.
IL-10 signaling in T cells is critical for dampening the pathogenesis of collagen-induced arthritis by maintaining the function of Tregs and the recruitment of IL-17+γδ T cells.
PMCID: PMC3334665  PMID: 22192790
15.  Correlation of antinuclear antibody and anti-double-stranded DNA antibody with clinical response to infliximab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a retrospective clinical study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R213.
The induction of antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) or anti-double-stranded (ds) -DNA antibodies (Abs) after infliximab (IFX) therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a well-known phenomenon, but the correlation of such Abs with the clinical response to IFX has not yet been determined. The aims of this retrospective observational study were to examine the prevalence of positive ANA and anti-ds-DNA Abs before and after IFX therapy in patients with RA and to investigate whether an increased titer of such Abs is associated with the clinical efficacy of IFX.
One hundred eleven RA patients who had received IFX were studied. ANA (indirect immunofluorescence with HEp-2 cells) and anti-ds-DNA Abs (Farr assay) results were examined before and after IFX therapy.
The overall clinical response assessed by EULAR response criteria was as follows: good response in 55%, including remission in 38%; moderate response in 18%; and no response (NOR) in 27%. The positivity of ANA (≥ 1:160) and anti-ds-DNA Abs significantly increased from 25% to 40% (P = 0.03) and from 3% to 26% (P < 0.001) after IFX, respectively. EULAR response differed significantly according to the ANA titer before IFX (P = 0.001), and the efficacy of IFX became worse as the ANA titer before starting IFX increased. Furthermore, the differences in the clinical response of the ANA titer before IFX ≤ 1:80 and ≥ 1:160 were significant (good, moderate, and no response were 66%, 9%, and 25% in ≤ 1:80 group versus 26%, 33%, 41% in ≥ 1:160 group, respectively; P < 0.001). In 13 patients whose ANA had increased after IFX, 10 showed NOR, only one showed a good response, and none reached remission. These clinical responses were significantly different from ANA no-change patients. In 21 patients with positive anti-ds-DNA Abs after IFX, 16 showed NOR, only two showed a good response, and none reached remission.
The present study suggests that the ANA titer before starting IFX predicts the clinical response to IFX. The increased titers of ANA or anti-ds-DNA Abs after IFX may be useful markers of NOR.
PMCID: PMC3334666  PMID: 22192852
16.  Epidemiologic study of clinically amyopathic dermatomyositis and anti-melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5 antibodies in central Japan 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R214.
Several reports have found the onset or activity of inflammatory myopathies to show spatial clustering and seasonal association. We recently detected autoantibodies against melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5 (MDA-5) in more than 20% of patients with dermatomyositis. Anti-MDA-5 antibodies were associated with the presence of rapidly progressive interstitial lung disease in clinically amyopathic dermatomyositis (CADM). The present study aims to assess the growing prevalence of CADM and the geographical incidence of anti-MDA-5-positive patients.
We reviewed medical charts and examined the presence of anti-MDA-5 antibodies in 95 patients, including 36 CADM patients. Sera were obtained from 1994 through 2011. Statistical analyses were performed to assess whether CADM development and the presence of anti-MDA-5 antibodies were associated with various parameters, including age at disease onset, season of onset, annual positivity, and population of resident city.
Tertiles based on the year when the sera were collected showed increasing tendencies of CADM and anti-MDA-5-positive patients among all of the dermatomyositis patients. From 1994 to 2010, the relative prevalence of CADM and anti-MDA-5 antibody-positive patients significantly increased. Interestingly, the presence of anti-MDA-5 antibodies in 26 patients was inversely associated with the population of their city of residence.
This is the first study to examine the distribution of anti-MDA-5-positive dermatomyositis phenotypes in Japan. Regional differences in the incidences of these phenotypes would suggest that environmental factors contribute to the production of antibodies against MDA-5, which triggers innate antiviral responses.
PMCID: PMC3334667  PMID: 22192091
17.  Application of in vivo micro-computed tomography in the temporal characterisation of subchondral bone architecture in a rat model of low-dose monosodium iodoacetate-induced osteoarthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R210.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a complex, multifactorial joint disease affecting both the cartilage and the subchondral bone. Animal models of OA aid in the understanding of the pathogenesis of OA and testing suitable drugs for OA treatment. In this study we characterized the temporal changes in the tibial subchondral bone architecture in a rat model of low-dose monosodium iodoacetate (MIA)-induced OA using in vivo micro-computed tomography (CT).
Male Wistar rats received a single intra-articular injection of low-dose MIA (0.2 mg) in the right knee joint and sterile saline in the left knee joint. The animals were scanned in vivo by micro-CT at two, six, and ten weeks post-injection, analogous to early, intermediate, and advanced stages of OA, to assess architectural changes in the tibial subchondral bone. The articular cartilage changes in the tibiae were assessed macroscopically and histologically at ten weeks post-injection.
Interestingly, tibiae of the MIA-injected knees showed significant bone loss at two weeks, followed by increased trabecular thickness and separation at six and ten weeks. The trabecular number was decreased at all time points compared to control tibiae. The tibial subchondral plate thickness of the MIA-injected knee was increased at two and six weeks and the plate porosity was increased at all time points compared to control. At ten weeks, histology revealed loss of proteoglycans, chondrocyte necrosis, chondrocyte clusters, cartilage fibrillation, and delamination in the MIA-injected tibiae, whereas the control tibiae showed no changes. Micro-CT images and histology showed the presence of subchondral bone sclerosis, cysts, and osteophytes.
These findings demonstrate that the low-dose MIA rat model closely mimics the pathological features of progressive human OA. The low-dose MIA rat model is therefore suitable to study the effect of therapeutic drugs on cartilage and bone in a non-trauma model of OA. In vivo micro-CT is a non-destructive imaging technique that can track structural changes in the tibial subchondral bone in this animal model, and could also be used to track changes in bone in preclinical drug intervention studies for OA treatments.
PMCID: PMC3334663  PMID: 22185204
18.  Decreased influenza-specific B cell responses in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with anti-tumor necrosis factor 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R209.
As a group, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients exhibit increased risk of infection, and those treated with anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy are at further risk. This increased susceptibility may result from a compromised humoral immune response. Therefore, we asked if short-term effector (d5-d10) and memory (1 month or later) B cell responses to antigen were compromised in RA patients treated with anti-TNF therapy.
Peripheral blood samples were obtained from RA patients, including a subset treated with anti-TNF, and from healthy controls to examine influenza-specific responses following seasonal influenza vaccination. Serum antibody was measured by hemagglutination inhibition assay. The frequency of influenza vaccine-specific antibody secreting cells and memory B cells was measured by EliSpot. Plasmablast (CD19+IgD-CD27hiCD38hi) induction was measured by flow cytometry.
Compared with healthy controls, RA patients treated with anti-TNF exhibited significantly decreased influenza-specific serum antibody and memory B cell responses throughout multiple years of the study. The short-term influenza-specific effector B cell response was also significantly decreased in RA patients treated with anti-TNF as compared with healthy controls, and correlated with decreased influenza-specific memory B cells and serum antibody present at one month following vaccination.
RA patients treated with anti-TNF exhibit a compromised immune response to influenza vaccine, consisting of impaired effector and consequently memory B cell and antibody responses. The results suggest that the increased incidence and severity of infection observed in this patient population could be a consequence of diminished antigen-responsiveness. Therefore, this patient population would likely benefit from repeat vaccination and from vaccines with enhanced immunogenicity.
PMCID: PMC3334662  PMID: 22177419
19.  Mutations in genes encoding complement inhibitors CD46 and CFH affect the age at nephritis onset in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R206.
Inherited deficiencies of several complement components strongly predispose to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) while deficiencies of complement inhibitors are found in kidney diseases such as atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).
The exons of complement inhibitor genes CD46 and CFH (factor H) were fully sequenced using the Sanger method in SLE patients with nephritis originating from two cohorts from southern and mid Sweden (n = 196). All identified mutations and polymorphisms were then analyzed in SLE patients without nephritis (n = 326) and in healthy controls (n = 523).
We found nonsynonymous, heterozygous mutations in CFH in 6.1% patients with nephritis, in comparison with 4.0% and 5.4% in patients without nephritis and controls, respectively. No associations of SLE or nephritis with common variants in CFH (V62I/Y402H/E936D) were found. Furthermore, we found two nonsynonymous heterozygous mutations in CD46 in SLE patients but not in controls. The A353V polymorphism, known to affect function of CD46, was found in 6.6% of nephritis patients versus 4.9% and 6.1% of the non-nephritis SLE patients and controls. The presence of mutations in CD46 and CFH did not predispose to SLE or nephritis but was associated with earlier onset of nephritis. Furthermore, we found weak indications that there is one protective and one risk haplotype predisposing to nephritis composed of several polymorphisms in noncoding regions of CD46, which were previously implicated in aHUS.
SLE nephritis is not associated with frequent mutations in CFH and CD46 as found in aHUS but these may be modifying factors causing earlier onset of nephritis.
PMCID: PMC3334659  PMID: 22171659
20.  Regenerative potential of human muscle stem cells in chronic inflammation 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R207.
Chronic inflammation is a profound systemic modification of the cellular microenvironment which could affect survival, repair and maintenance of muscle stem cells. The aim of this study was to define the role of chronic inflammation on the regenerative potential of satellite cells in human muscle.
As a model for chronic inflammation, 11 patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were included together with 16 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) as controls. The mean age of both groups was 64 years, with more females in the RA group compared to the OA group. During elective knee replacement surgery, a muscle biopsy was taken from the distal musculus vastus medialis. Cell populations from four RA and eight OA patients were used for extensive phenotyping because these cell populations showed no spontaneous differentiation and myogenic purity greater than 75% after explantation.
After mononuclear cell explantation, myogenic purity, viability, proliferation index, number of colonies, myogenic colonies, growth speed, maximum number of population doublings and fusion index were not different between RA and OA patients. Furthermore, the expression of proteins involved in replicative and stress-induced premature senescence and apoptosis, including p16, p21, p53, hTERT and cleaved caspase-3, was not different between RA and OA patients. Mean telomere length was shorter in the RA group compared to the OA group.
In the present study we found evidence that chronic inflammation in RA does not affect the in vitro regenerative potential of human satellite cells. Identification of mechanisms influencing muscle regeneration by modulation of its microenvironment may, therefore, be more appropriate.
PMCID: PMC3334660  PMID: 22171690
21.  Frequency of Th17 CD20+ cells in the peripheral blood of rheumatoid arthritis patients is higher compared to healthy subjects 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R208.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is considered a T cell driven autoimmune disease, therefore, the ability of B cell depleting biologics, e.g., anti-CD20 antibodies, to alleviate RA is unclear. This study examined the proportions of IL-17-secreting lymphocytes in the blood of healthy subjects and RA patients and determined if Th17 cells belong to a CD20+ subset of T cells.
Fluorescence-activated cell sorting and confocal microscopy verified CD3, CD4/CD8 and CD20-staining of T cells. IL-17 secretion was determined using a commercial assay.
In healthy subjects and RA patients blood, the median percentage of total CD20+ lymphocytes was similar (7.5%; n = 6 and 10.3%; n = 9, respectively) and comprised predominantly of B cells (~ 86%). However, 2-4% of CD3+ T cells from both healthy subjects (n = 7) and RA (n = 8) individuals co-expressed CD20. The peripheral blood of healthy subjects contained few IL-17-secreting CD20+ T cells (< 0.1%; n = 6). In contrast, in RA blood a median and interquartile range % of, 24.2%; IQR 28.5 of IL-17-secreting T cells were CD20+ (n = 9; p = 0.02).
In the blood of RA patients, a greater proportion of Th17 cells are of a CD20+ phenotype compared to healthy individuals. These cells may represent an additional target for anti-CD20 therapies.
PMCID: PMC3334661  PMID: 22171710
22.  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
23.  Abatacept with methotrexate versus other biologic agents in treatment of patients with active rheumatoid arthritis despite methotrexate: a network meta-analysis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R204.
The goal of this study was to compare the efficacy in terms of Health Assessment Questionnaire change from baseline (HAQ CFB), 50% improvement in American College of Rheumatology criterion (ACR-50) and Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) defined remission (< 2.6) between abatacept and other biologic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have inadequate response to methotrexate (MTX-IR).
A systematic literature review identified controlled trials investigating the efficacy of abatacept (three studies), etanercept (two studies), infliximab (two), adalimumab (two), certolizumab pegol (two) ritixumab (three), and tocilizumab (two) in MTX-IR patients with RA. The clinical trials included in this analysis were similar with respect to trial design, baseline patient characteristics and background therapy (MTX). The key clinical endpoints of interest were HAQ CFB, ACR-50 and DAS28 < 2.6 measured at 24 and 52 weeks. The results were analysed using network meta-analysis methods that enabled calculation of an estimate for expected relative effect of comparative treatments. Analysis results were expressed as the difference in HAQ CFB score and odds ratio (OR) of achieving an ACR-50 and DAS28 response and associated 95% credible intervals (CrI).
The analysis of HAQ CFB at 24 weeks and 52 weeks showed that abatacept in combination with MTX is expected to be more efficacious than MTX monotherapy and is expected to show a comparable efficacy relative to other biologic DMARDs in combination with MTX. Further, abatacept showed comparable ACR-50 and DAS28 < 2.6 response rates with other biologic DMARDs at 24 and 52 weeks, except for ACR-50 compared to certolizumab pegol at 52 weeks and for DAS28 < 2.6 compared to tocilizumab at 24 weeks. Sensitivity analyses confirmed the robustness of the findings.
Abatacept in combination with MTX is expected to result in a comparable change from baseline in HAQ score and comparable ACR-50 and DAS28 < 2.6 response rates in MTX-IR patients compared to other approved biologic agents.
PMCID: PMC3334657  PMID: 22151924
abatacept; rheumatoid arthritis; biologic DMARDs; network meta-analysis; health assessment questionnaire
24.  Sustained remission of symptoms and improved health-related quality of life in patients with cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome treated with canakinumab: results of a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized withdrawal study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R202.
To assess the effect of canakinumab, a fully human anti-interleukin-1β antibody, on symptoms and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome (CAPS).
In this 48-week, phase 3 study, patients with CAPS received canakinumab 150 mg subcutaneously at 8-week intervals. All patients (n = 35) received canakinumab during weeks 1 through 8; weeks 9 through 24 constituted a double-blind placebo-controlled withdrawal phase, and weeks 24 through 48 constituted an open-label phase in which all patients received canakinumab. Patient and physician assessments of symptoms, levels of inflammatory markers, and HRQoL were performed.
Rapid symptom remission was achieved, with 89% of patients having no or minimal disease activity on day 8. Responses were sustained in patients receiving 8-weekly canakinumab. Responses were lost during the placebo-controlled phase in the placebo group and were regained on resuming canakinumab therapy in the open-label phase. Clinical responses were accompanied by decreases in serum levels of C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A protein, and interleukin-6. HRQoL scores at baseline were considerably below those of the general population. Improvements in all 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) domain scores were evident by day 8. Scores approached or exceeded those of the general U.S. population by week 8 and remained stable during canakinumab therapy. Improvements in bodily pain and role-physical were particularly marked, increasing by more than 25 points from baseline to week 8. Therapy was generally well tolerated.
Canakinumab, 150 mg, 8-weekly, induced rapid and sustained remission of symptoms in patients with CAPS, accompanied by substantial improvements in HRQoL.
Trial registration NCT00465985
PMCID: PMC3334655  PMID: 22152723
25.  Effects of Wnt3A and mechanical load on cartilage chondrocyte homeostasis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(6):R203.
Articular cartilage functions in withstanding mechanical loads and provides a lubricating surface for frictionless movement of joints. Osteoarthritis, characterised by cartilage degeneration, develops due to the progressive erosion of structural integrity and eventual loss of functional performance. Osteoarthritis is a multi-factorial disorder; two important risk factors are abnormal mechanical load and genetic predisposition. A single nucleotide polymorphism analysis demonstrated an association of hip osteoarthritis with an Arg324Gly substitution mutation in FrzB, a Wnt antagonist. The purpose of this study was two-fold: to assess whether mechanical stimulation modulates β-catenin signalling and catabolic gene expression in articular chondrocytes, and further to investigate whether there is an interplay of mechanical load and Wnt signalling in mediating a catabolic response.
Chondrocytes were pre-stimulated with recombinant Wnt3A for 24 hours prior to the application of tensile strain (7.5%, 1 Hz) for 30 minutes. Activation of Wnt signalling, via β-catenin nuclear translocation and downstream effects including the transcriptional activation of c-jun, c-fos and Lef1, markers of chondrocyte phenotype (type II collagen (col2a1), aggrecan (acan), SOX9) and catabolic genes (MMP3, MMP13, ADAMTS-4, ADAMTS-5) were assessed.
Physiological tensile strain induced col2a1, acan and SOX9 transcription. Load-induced acan and SOX9 expression were repressed in the presence of Wnt3A. Load induced partial β-catenin nuclear translocation; there was an additive effect of load and Wnt3A on β-catenin distribution, with both extensive localisation in the nucleus and cytoplasm. Immediate early response (c-jun) and catabolic genes (MMP3, ADAMTS-4) were up-regulated in Wnt3A stimulated chondrocytes. With load and Wnt3A there was an additive up-regulation of c-fos, MMP3 and ADAMTS-4 transcription, whereas there was a synergistic interplay on c-jun, Lef1 and ADAMTS-5 transcription.
Our data suggest that load and Wnt, in combination, can repress transcription of chondrocyte matrix genes, whilst enhancing expression of catabolic mediators. Future studies will investigate the respective roles of abnormal loading and genetic predisposition in mediating cartilage degeneration.
PMCID: PMC3334656  PMID: 22151902

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