Publications by authors named "Birgitta Gullstrand"

36 Publications

Low Intra-Individual Variation in Mean Platelet Volume Over Time in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Front Med (Lausanne) 2021 20;8:638750. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Section of Rheumatology, Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Platelets have recently emerged as important immune modulators in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), in addition to their role in thrombosis and cardiovascular disease. However, studies investigating mean platelet volume (MPV) in SLE are often scarce, conflicting and cross-sectional. In this study, MPV was measured in clinical routine throughout a defined time-period to quantify both individual MPV fluctuations and investigate if such variations are associated with disease activity and clinical phenotypes of SLE. Of our 212 patients, 34 patients had only one MPV value reported with the remaining 178 patients having between 2 and 19 visits with recorded MPV values. The intra-individual MPV variation was low, with a median variation of 0.7 fL. This was further supported by the finding that 84% of patients stayed within their reference interval category (i.e., small, normal or large) over time. In our cohort, no correlation between disease activity and MPV neither cross-sectionally nor longitudinally was found. Mean platelet volume values were significantly smaller in SLE patients (mean 10.5 fL) compared to controls (mean 10.8 fL), < 0.0001. Based on the reference interval, 2.4% ( = 5) of patients had large-sized platelets, 84.4% ( = 179) had normal-sized and 13.2% ( = 28) had small-sized. A larger proportion (85.7%) of patients with small-sized platelets met the anti-dsDNA criterion (ACR10b; = 0.003) compared to patients with normal and large (57.6%) sized platelets. In conclusion, the intra-individual MPV variation was of low magnitude and fluctuations in disease activity did not have any significant impact on MPV longitudinally. This lack of variability in MPV over time indicates that measuring MPV at any time-point is sufficient. Further studies are warranted to evaluate MPV as a possible biomarker in SLE, as well as to determine the underlying mechanisms influencing platelet size in SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2021.638750DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8093559PMC
April 2021

Immune responses against oxidized LDL as possible targets for prevention of atherosclerosis in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Vascul Pharmacol 2021 Apr 13:106863. Epub 2021 Apr 13.

Department of Clinical Sciences Malmö, Skåne University Hospital, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden.

Patients suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and traditional therapies including statins provide insufficient protection. Impaired removal of apoptotic material is a common pathogenic mechanism in both SLE and atherosclerosis and is considered to be a key factor in the development of autoimmunity. Since oxidized LDL and apoptotic material bind to the same receptors, we aimed to investigate if targeting the oxidized LDL autoimmunity can affect atherosclerosis in SLE. To investigate the possible role of oxidized LDL autoimmunity in the accelerated atherosclerosis associated with SLE we used a hypercholesterolemic SLE mouse model (B6.lpr.ApoE mice). Promoting LDL tolerance through mucosal immunization with an apolipoprotein B-100 peptide p45 (amino acids 661-680) and cholera toxin B-subunit fusion protein increased regulatory T cells and B cells in mesenteric lymph nodes and reduced plaque development in the aorta by 33%. Treatment with the oxidized LDL-specific antibody Orticumab reduced aortic atherosclerosis by 43%, subvalvular plaque area by 50% and the macrophage content by 31%. The present study provides support for oxLDL as a possible target for prevention of cardiovascular complications in SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vph.2021.106863DOI Listing
April 2021

Synovial fluid neutrophils in oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis have an altered phenotype and impaired effector functions.

Arthritis Res Ther 2021 Apr 9;23(1):109. Epub 2021 Apr 9.

Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Background: Neutrophils are the most prevalent immune cells in the synovial fluid in inflamed joints of children with oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Despite this, little is known about neutrophil function at the site of inflammation in JIA and how local neutrophils contribute to disease pathogenesis. This study aimed to characterize the phenotype and function of synovial fluid neutrophils in oligoarticular JIA.

Methods: Neutrophils obtained from paired blood and synovial fluid from patients with active oligoarticular JIA were investigated phenotypically (n = 17) and functionally (phagocytosis and oxidative burst, n = 13) by flow cytometry. In a subset of patients (n = 6), blood samples were also obtained during inactive disease at a follow-up visit. The presence of CD206-expressing neutrophils was investigated in synovial biopsies from four patients by immunofluorescence.

Results: Neutrophils in synovial fluid had an activated phenotype, characterized by increased CD66b and CD11b levels, and most neutrophils had a CD16 CD62Laged phenotype. A large proportion of the synovial fluid neutrophils expressed CD206, a mannose receptor not commonly expressed by neutrophils but by monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. CD206-expressing neutrophils were also found in synovial tissue biopsies. The synovial fluid neutrophil phenotype was not dependent on transmigration alone. Functionally, synovial fluid neutrophils had reduced phagocytic capacity and a trend towards impaired oxidative burst compared to blood neutrophils. In addition, the effector functions of the synovial fluid neutrophils correlated negatively with the proportion of CD206 neutrophils.

Conclusions: Neutrophils in the inflamed joint in oligoarticular JIA were altered, both regarding phenotype and function. Neutrophils in the synovial fluid were activated, had an aged phenotype, had gained monocyte-like features, and had impaired phagocytic capacity. The impairment in phagocytosis and oxidative burst was associated with the phenotype shift. We speculate that these neutrophil alterations might play a role in the sustained joint inflammation seen in JIA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13075-021-02483-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8034063PMC
April 2021

C-Reactive Protein Levels in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Are Modulated by the Interferon Gene Signature and CRP Gene Polymorphism rs1205.

Front Immunol 2020 28;11:622326. Epub 2021 Jan 28.

Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Division of Inflammation and Infection, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.

Objectives: Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) often display modest elevations of C-reactive protein (CRP) despite raised disease activity and increased interleukin (IL-) 6. We asked to what extent IL-6 levels, the CRP polymorphism rs1205, and the type I interferon (IFN) gene signature affects the basal CRP levels in patients with SLE during a quiescent phase of the disease.

Methods: CRP and IL-6 were analyzed in plasma from 57 patients meeting established classification criteria for SLE. The CRP polymorphism rs1205 was assessed and gene expression analyzed including four type I IFN-regulated genes (IGS).

Results: CRP was increased in patients with detectable IL-6 levels (p=0.001) and decreased among IGS-positive subjects (p=0.033). A multiple linear regression model revealed IL-6 to have a positive association with CRP levels, whereas both IGS-positivity and CRP genotype (rs1205) AA/GA were negatively associated with CRP-levels.

Conclusion: Our data offer an explanation to the modest CRP levels seen in viral infections and IFN-α driven autoimmunity and corroborate prior observations showing an IFN-α dependent downregulation of CRP. The latter observation, together with the fact that the CRP-lowering polymorphism rs1205 is overrepresented in human SLE, could explain low basal CRP and inadequate CRP-responses among patients with active SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.622326DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7876312PMC
January 2021

Increased serum bactericidal activity of autologous serum in C2 deficiency after vaccination against Haemophilus influenzae type b, and further support for an MBL-dependent C2 bypass mechanism.

Vaccine 2021 Feb 25;39(8):1297-1302. Epub 2021 Jan 25.

Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, Region Skåne, Lund, Sweden; Department of Laboratory Medicine, Section of Microbiology, Immunology and Glycobiology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden. Electronic address:

Deficiencies of C2 and other components of the classical pathway of complement are associated with increased risk of infections with encapsulated bacteria, such as Haemophilus (H.) influenzae. Defense against H. influenzae is dependent on specific antibodies and complement, which mediate serum bactericidal activity (SBA) and opsonization. Due to lack of normal classical and lectin complement pathway function in C2 deficiency (C2D), SBA would have to depend either on the alternative pathway or on C2 bypass mechanisms. Here we studied SBA against H. influenzae type b (Hib) before and after vaccination in a group of C2-deficient persons, as the bactericidal capacity of antibodies in autologous complement in relation to vaccination has not been investigated at group level in C2D. Sera from 22 persons with C2D and 26 healthy controls were available. Out of these, 18 persons with C2D and all controls had been vaccinated with Act-HIB®. SBA against Hib bacteria was analyzed with autologous serum as the only complement source. Antibodies to Hib capsular polysaccharide had been analyzed previously. Concentrations of mannose-binding lectin (MBL) and other complement components were measured in serum. SBA of both C2-deficient persons and controls was significantly more efficient after vaccination (p = 0.002 and p < 0.0001, respectively). After vaccination, all but two C2-deficient sera and one control serum showed sufficient SBA (<50% surviving bacteria). Before vaccination, SBA of C2-deficient sera was negatively correlated to serum concentrations of MBL (lower proportion of surviving bacteria with higher MBL concentration; r = -0.55, p = 0.008). After vaccination, SBA of C2-deficient sera was negatively correlated to serum concentrations of IgG Hib antibodies (r = -0.56, p = 0.01). In conclusion, SBA against Hib in autologous serum is increased after vaccination in persons with C2D. In unvaccinated C2-deficient persons SBA was correlated to MBL concentration, providing further support for an MBL-dependent C2 bypass mechanism operating in C2D.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.01.007DOI Listing
February 2021

Mismatch between circulating cytokines and spontaneous cytokine production by leukocytes in hyperinflammatory COVID-19.

J Leukoc Biol 2021 01 13;109(1):115-120. Epub 2020 Aug 13.

Skåne University Hospital, Lund and Malmö, Sweden.

The disease COVID-19 has developed into a worldwide pandemic. Hyperinflammation and high levels of several cytokines, for example, IL-6, are observed in severe COVID-19 cases. However, little is known about the cellular origin of these cytokines. Here, we investigated whether circulating leukocytes from patients with COVID-19 had spontaneous cytokine production. Patients with hyperinflammatory COVID-19 (n = 6) and sepsis (n = 3) were included at Skåne University Hospital, Sweden. Healthy controls were also recruited (n = 5). Cytokines were measured in COVID-19 and sepsis patients using an Immulite immunoassay system. PBMCs were cultured with brefeldin A to allow cytokine accumulation. In parallel, LPS was used as an activator. Cells were analyzed for cytokines and surface markers by flow cytometry. High levels of IL-6 and measurable levels of IL-8 and TNF, but not IL-1β, were observed in COVID-19 patients. Monocytes from COVID-19 patients had spontaneous production of IL-1β and IL-8 (P = 0.0043), but not of TNF and IL-6, compared to controls. No spontaneous cytokine production was seen in lymphocytes from either patients or controls. Activation with LPS resulted in massive cytokine production by monocytes from COVID-19 patients and healthy controls, but not from sepsis patients. Finally, monocytes from COVID-19 patients produced more IL-1β than from healthy controls (P = 0.0087) when activated. In conclusion, monocytes contribute partly to the ongoing hyperinflammation by production of IL-1β and IL-8. Additionally, they are responsive to further activation. This data supports the notion of IL-1β blockade in treatment of COVID-19. However, the source of the high levels of IL-6 remains to be determined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/JLB.5COVBCR0720-310RRDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7436862PMC
January 2021

Children with oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis have skewed synovial monocyte polarization pattern with functional impairment-a distinct inflammatory pattern for oligoarticular juvenile arthritis.

Arthritis Res Ther 2020 08 12;22(1):186. Epub 2020 Aug 12.

Department of Pediatrics, Clinical Sciences Lund, Lund University, BMC B13, Klinikgatan 26, 22185, Lund, Sweden.

Background: Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is an umbrella term of inflammatory joint diseases in children. Oligoarthritis is the most common form in the Western world, representing roughly 60% of all patients. Monocytes and macrophages play an important role in adult arthritides, but their role in oligoarticular JIA is less studied. Polarization highly influences monocytes' and macrophages' effector functions, broadly separated into pro-inflammatory M1 or anti-inflammatory M2 phenotypes. Here, we set out to investigate the polarization pattern and functional aspects of synovial monocytes in oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

Methods: Paired synovial fluid, blood samples (n = 13), and synovial biopsies (n = 3) were collected from patients with untreated oligoarticular JIA. Monocytes were analyzed for polarization markers by flow cytometry and qPCR. Effector function was analyzed by a phagocytosis assay. Polarization of healthy monocytes was investigated by stimulation with synovial fluid in vitro. Monocyte/macrophage distribution, polarization, and mRNA expression were investigated in biopsies by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, and in situ hybridization.

Results: Children with oligoarticular JIA have polarized synovial fluid monocytes of a specific M1(IFNγ)/M2(IL-4)-like pattern. This was evidenced by increased surface expression of CD40 (p < 0.001), CD86 (p < 0.001), and CD206 (p < 0.001), but not CD163, as compared to paired circulating monocytes. Additionally, polarization was extensively explored at the mRNA level and synovial fluid monocytes differentially expressed classical markers of M1(IFNγ)/M2(IL-4) polarization compared to circulating monocytes. Synovial fluid monocytes were functionally affected, as assessed by reduced capacity to phagocytose (p < 0.01). Synovial fluid induced M2 markers (CD16 and CD206), but not M1 (CD40) or CD86 in healthy monocytes and did not induce cytokine production. Single and co-expression of surface CD40 and CD206, as well as mRNA expression of IL-10 and TNF, was observed in monocytes/macrophages in synovial biopsies.

Conclusion: Children with untreated oligoarticular JIA have similar and distinct synovial fluid monocyte polarization pattern of mixed pro- and anti-inflammatory features. This pattern was not exclusively a result of the synovial fluid milieu as monocytes/macrophages in the synovial membrane show similar patterns. Our study highlights a distinct polarization pattern in oligoarticular JIA, which could be utilized for future treatment strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13075-020-02279-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7425414PMC
August 2020

RNAi as a Tool to Study Virulence in the Pathogenic Yeast .

Front Microbiol 2019 24;10:1679. Epub 2019 Jul 24.

Department of Biology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

The yeast is a major opportunistic pathogen causing mucosal and systemic infections in humans. Systemic infections caused by this yeast have high mortality rates and are difficult to treat due to this yeast's intrinsic and frequently adapting antifungal resistance. To understand and treat infections, it is essential to investigate the molecular basis of virulence and resistance. We established an RNA interference (RNAi) system in by expressing the Dicer and Argonaute genes from (a budding yeast with natural RNAi). Our experiments with reporter genes and putative virulence genes showed that the introduction of RNAi resulted in 30 and 70% gene-knockdown for the construct-types antisense and hairpin, respectively. The resulting RNAi strain was used for the screening of a gene library for new virulence-related genes. Phenotypic profiling with a high-resolution quantification of growth identified genes involved in the maintenance of cell integrity, antifungal drugs, and ROS resistance. The genes identified by this approach are promising targets for the treatment of infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2019.01679DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6667738PMC
July 2019

Low plasma concentrations of apolipoprotein M are associated with disease activity and endothelial dysfunction in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Arthritis Res Ther 2019 05 2;21(1):110. Epub 2019 May 2.

Department of Rheumatology, Clinical Sciences, Lund University, SE-22185, Lund, Sweden.

Background: Apolipoprotein M (apoM) is a 25-kDa apolipoprotein present in 5% of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles. It is suggested to be anti-atherogenic and to play a key role in sustaining endothelial barrier integrity. SLE patients have increased cardiovascular disease risk, and we aimed to investigate if apoM levels reflect endothelial function in SLE. Since apoM plasma levels decrease during inflammatory conditions, our aim was also to determine the impact of SLE disease activity on apoM plasma levels.

Methods: Plasma concentrations of apoM were measured by ELISA in two patient groups with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and in 79 healthy control individuals. In patient group I (n = 84), evaluation time points were selected with the objective to include a wide range of clinical and laboratory variables reflecting disease activity which was measured as SLEDAI. In patient group II consisting of 140 consecutive patients, endothelial function was measured by a finger plethysmograph. A low Reactive Hyperemia Index (RHI) value indicates endothelial dysfunction.

Results: SLE patients had decreased levels of apoM compared to healthy controls (p < 0.01), with apoM levels correlating inversely with SLEDAI (r = - 0.31, p < 0.01) as well as with levels of CRP (r = - 0.26, p = 0.02) and positively with levels of C3 (r = 0.29, p < 0.01). ApoM levels were particularly low in patients with active disease from the kidney and skin and in patients with leukopenia or positive anti-dsDNA antibody test (p < 0.05). ApoM levels correlated with RHI values in young SLE patients (r = 0.32, p = 0.01), consistent with the important role of apoM in regulating endothelial integrity.

Conclusions: ApoM levels may be regulated by SLE-related inflammatory processes and could be a marker of disease activity and endothelial dysfunction, in particular in young SLE patients. Further studies are needed to investigate the predictive value of apoM in the development of a cardiovascular disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13075-019-1890-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6498515PMC
May 2019

Cardiovascular disease in systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with increased levels of biomarkers reflecting receptor-activated apoptosis.

Atherosclerosis 2018 03 17;270:1-7. Epub 2018 Jan 17.

Department of Clinical Sciences Malmö, Lund University, Sweden. Electronic address:

Background And Aims: There is convincing evidence that adaptive immune responses affect the development of atherosclerosis and thrombosis and several autoimmune diseases are associated with increased cardiovascular risk. However, our understanding of the underlying mechanisms remains limited. We investigated how biomarkers reflecting four aspects of autoimmunity: apoptosis, inflammation, tissue degradation and repair, associate with cardiovascular disease (CVD) in subjects with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: We investigated 484 well-characterized SLE patients, 69 of whom had CVD (coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease or peripheral artery disease), and 253 controls. Occurrence of carotid plaques was investigated with ultrasound. Plasma levels of biomarkers reflecting apoptosis (Fas, TNF receptor 1, TRAIL receptor 2), inflammation (IL-6, IL-8, monocyte chemotactic protein-1), tissue degradation (matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, MMP-3, MMP-7), and tissue repair (platelet-derived growth factor, epidermal growth factor and stem cell factor) were analyzed by Proximity Extension Assay.

Results: Subjects with SLE had markedly elevated plasma levels of biomarkers reflecting apoptosis, inflammation and tissue degradation as compared to controls. SLE patients with CVD had higher levels of Fas, TNF receptor 1, TRAIL receptor 2, MMP-1 and -7 than those without CVD. The same associations were found for the presence of a carotid plaque. When controlling for the factors included in the Framingham risk score, all biomarkers except MMP-1 remained associated with the presence of a carotid plaque, while only TRAIL receptor 2 levels remained significantly associated with CVD.

Conclusions: Our findings argue that the cardiovascular risk in SLE is associated with increased cell death by apoptosis and tissue degradation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2018.01.022DOI Listing
March 2018

Plasma C4d as marker for lupus nephritis in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Arthritis Res Ther 2017 Dec 6;19(1):266. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

Department of Translational Medicine, Section of Medical Protein Chemistry, Lund University, Inga Marie Nilsson's Street 53, 205 02, Malmö, Sweden.

Background: In the present study, we sought to evaluate the complement activation product C4d as a marker for lupus nephritis in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: C4d levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in plasma samples of patients with established SLE using a novel approach based on detection of a short linear cleavage neoepitope. Cross-sectional associations were studied in 98 patients with SLE with samples taken at lower or higher respective disease activity. Temporal associations were investigated in 69 patients with SLE who were followed longitudinally for up to 5 years. Plasma samples from 77 healthy donors were included as controls.

Results: C4d levels were negligible in healthy control subjects and significantly increased in patients with SLE in the cross-sectional study (p < 0.0001). C4d levels discriminated between higher and lower disease activity according to ROC curve analysis (p < 0.001), exhibiting a positive predictive value of 68%. At higher disease activity, C4d levels correlated with the modified Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (p = 0.011) and predominantly with lupus nephritis (p = 0.003), exhibiting a sensitivity of 79% to identify patients with nephritis. High C4d levels together with the presence of anti-dsDNA autoantibodies preceded and thus predicted future lupus nephritis in the longitudinal study (OR 5.4, 95% CI 1.4-21.3). When we considered only patients with renal involvement (19 of 69) during the longitudinal study, we found that high C4d levels alone could forecast recurrence of future lupus nephritis (OR 3.3, 95% CI 1.2-9.6).

Conclusions: C4d appears to be a valuable marker for use in monitoring of patients with SLE, particularly for lupus nephritis. Importantly, C4d levels can predict impending flares of lupus nephritis and may thus be useful for informing treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13075-017-1470-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5717799PMC
December 2017

Endothelial dysfunction is associated with activation of the type I interferon system and platelets in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

RMD Open 2017 25;3(2):e000508. Epub 2017 Oct 25.

Department of Rheumatology, Clinical Sciences Lund, Lunds University, Lund, Sweden.

Objectives: Endothelial dysfunction may be connected to cardiovascular disease (CVD) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Type I interferons (IFNs) are central in SLE pathogenesis and are suggested to induce both endothelial dysfunction and platelet activation. In this study, we investigated the interplay between endothelial dysfunction, platelets and type I IFN in SLE.

Methods: We enrolled 148 patients with SLE and 79 sex-matched and age-matched healthy controls (HCs). Type I IFN activity was assessed with a reporter cell assay and platelet activation by flow cytometry. Endothelial dysfunction was assessed using surrogate markers of endothelial activation, soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1) and endothelial microparticles (EMPs), and finger plethysmograph to determine Reactive Hyperaemia Index (RHI).

Results: In patients with SLE, type I IFN activity was associated with endothelial activation, measured by high sVCAM-1 (OR 1.68, p<0.01) and elevated EMPs (OR 1.40, p=0.03). Patients with SLE with high type I IFN activity had lower RHI than HCs (OR 2.61, p=0.04), indicating endothelial dysfunction.Deposition of complement factors on platelets, a measure of platelet activation, was seen in patients with endothelial dysfunction. High levels of sVCAM-1 were associated with increased deposition of C4d (OR 4.57, p<0.01) and C1q (OR 4.10, p=0.04) on platelets. High levels of EMPs were associated with C4d deposition on platelets (OR 3.64, p=0.03).

Conclusions: Endothelial dysfunction was associated with activation of platelets and the type I IFN system. We suggest that an interplay between the type I IFN system, injured endothelium and activated platelets may contribute to development of CVD in SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/rmdopen-2017-000508DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5663269PMC
October 2017

A single nucleotide polymorphism in the gene leading to reduced oxidative burst is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Ann Rheum Dis 2017 Sep 12;76(9):1607-1613. Epub 2017 Jun 12.

Division of Medical Inflammation Research, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Objectives: polymorphisms leading to low production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are strongly associated with autoimmune diseases in animal models. The human gene is very complex with both functional and non-functional gene copies and genotyping requires assays specific for functional genes. We aimed at investigating association and function of the missense single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs201802880 (here denoted NCF1-339) in with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: We genotyped the NCF1-339 SNP in 973 Swedish patients with SLE and 1301 controls, using nested PCR and pyrosequencing. ROS production and gene expression of type 1 interferon-regulated genes were measured in isolated cells from subjects with different NCF1-339 genotypes.

Results: We found an increased frequency of the NCF1-339 T allele in patients with SLE, 11% compared with 4% in controls, OR 3.0, 95% CI 2.4 to 3.9, p=7.0×10. The NCF1-339 T allele reduced extracellular ROS production in neutrophils (p=0.004) and led to an increase expression of type 1 interferon-regulated genes. In addition, the NCF1-339 T allele was associated with a younger age at diagnosis of SLE; mean age 30.3 compared with 35.9, p=2.0×1.

Conclusions: These results clearly demonstrate that a genetically controlled reduced production of ROS increases the risk of developing SLE and confirm the hypothesis that ROS regulate chronic autoimmune inflammatory diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2017-211287DOI Listing
September 2017

Decreased platelet size is associated with platelet activation and anti-phospholipid syndrome in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Rheumatology (Oxford) 2017 03;56(3):408-416

Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Section of Rheumatology, Lund, Sweden.

Objectives: . SLE is an autoimmune disease with increased cardiovascular morbidity and platelet activation. In the general population, increased platelet size predicts platelet reactivity and cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to investigate whether platelet size related to platelet activation and cardiovascular disease in SLE.

Methods: . Fresh blood samples from SLE patients ( n = 148), healthy volunteers ( n = 79) and disease controls ( n = 40) were analysed for platelet size and activation by flow cytometry, ELISA and cell count. Associations to manifest cardiovascular disease, venous thrombosis and APS were adjusted for traditional cardiovascular risk factors using logistic regression analysis.

Results: . SLE patients had decreased platelet size as compared with healthy controls ( P = 0.003). In SLE, decreased platelet size was related to increased platelet activation, in particular microparticle formation ( P < 0.0001, r = -0.46) and release of serotonin from dense granules ( P < 0.001, r = 0.57). SLE patients with aCL had decreased platelet size ( P = 0.02) and aCL decreased platelet size in vitro ( P = 0.007). In contrast to the general population, increased platelet size was not associated with cardiovascular disease. Instead, decreased platelet size was associated with secondary APS, even after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors ( P = 0.01, odds ratio 3.58).

Conclusion: . Platelet size is decreased in SLE patients and associated with microparticle formation and APS. Future studies are needed to determine the underlying mechanism(s) as well as the potential predictive value of small platelets for disease complications in SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kew437DOI Listing
March 2017

IRF7 inhibition prevents destructive innate immunity-A target for nonantibiotic therapy of bacterial infections.

Sci Transl Med 2016 04;8(336):336ra59

Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Glycobiology, Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden.

Boosting innate immunity represents an important therapeutic alternative to antibiotics. However, the molecular selectivity of this approach is a major concern because innate immune responses often cause collateral tissue damage. We identify the transcription factor interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF-7), a heterodimer partner of IRF-3, as a target for non-antibiotics-based therapy of bacterial infections. We found that the efficient and self-limiting innate immune response to bacterial infection relies on a tight balance between IRF-3 and IRF-7. Deletion of Irf3 resulted in overexpression of Irf7 and led to an IRF-7-driven hyperinflammatory phenotype, which was entirely prevented if Irf7 was deleted. We then identified a network of strongly up-regulated, IRF-7-dependent genes in Irf3(-/-) mice with kidney pathology, which was absent in Irf7(-/-) mice. IRF-3 and IRF-7 from infected kidney cell nuclear extracts were shown to bind OAS1, CCL5, and IFNB1 promoter oligonucleotides. These data are consistent in children with low IRF7 expression in the blood: attenuating IRF7 promoter polymorphisms (rs3758650-T and rs10902179-G) negatively associated with recurrent pyelonephritis. Finally, we identified IRF-7 as a target for immunomodulatory therapy. Administering liposomal Irf7 siRNA to Irf3(-/-) mice suppressed mucosal IRF-7 expression, and the mice were protected against infection and renal tissue damage. These findings offer a response to the classical but unresolved question of "good versus bad inflammation" and identify IRF7 as a therapeutic target for protection against bacterial infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf1156DOI Listing
April 2016

Platelet-Derived S100A8/A9 and Cardiovascular Disease in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Arthritis Rheumatol 2016 08;68(8):1970-80

Lund University and Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.

Objective: Levels of S100A8/A9, a proinflammatory and prothrombotic protein complex, are increased in several diseases, and high levels predispose to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Recently, platelet S100A8/A9 synthesis was described in mice and humans in relation to CVD. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of platelet S100A8/A9 in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a disease with markedly increased cardiovascular morbidity, as well as the exact platelet distribution of the S100A8/A9 proteins.

Methods: The occurrence and distribution of platelet S100A8/A9 protein were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, electron microscopy, Western blotting, and flow cytometry in healthy controls (n = 79) and in 2 individual cohorts of SLE patients (n = 148 and n = 318, respectively) and related to cardiovascular morbidity.

Results: We observed that human platelets expressed S100A8/A9 proteins, and that these were localized in close proximity to intracellular membranes and granules as well as on the cell surface upon activation with physiologic and pathophysiologic stimuli. Interestingly, S100A8/A9 was enriched at sites of membrane interactions, indicating a role of S100A8/A9 in cell-cell communication. S100A8/A9 levels were highly regulated by interferon-α, both in vivo and in vitro. Patients with SLE had increased platelet S100A8/A9 content compared with healthy individuals. Increased levels of platelet S100A8/A9 were associated with CVD, particularly myocardial infarction (odds ratio 4.8, 95% confidence interval 1.5-14.9, P = 0.032 [adjusted for age, sex, and smoking]).

Conclusion: Platelets contain S100A8/A9 in membrane-enclosed vesicles, enabling rapid cell surface deposition upon activation. Furthermore, platelet S100A8/A9 protein levels were increased in SLE patients, particularly in those with CVD, and may be a future therapeutic target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.39656DOI Listing
August 2016

The assessment of serum-mediated phagocytosis of necrotic material by polymorphonuclear leukocytes to diagnose and predict the clinical features of systemic lupus erythematosus: an observational longitudinal study.

Arthritis Res Ther 2016 Feb 10;18:44. Epub 2016 Feb 10.

Department of Clinical Sciences, Section of Rheumatology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Background: Serum-mediated phagocytosis of antibody- and complement-opsonized necrotic cell material (NCM) by polymorphonuclear leukocytes can be quantified by using a flow cytometry-based assay. The phagocytosis of necrotic cell material (PNC) assay parallels the well-known lupus erythematosus cell test. In this study, we aimed to investigate the diagnostic accuracy of the assay and the relationship with clinical manifestations and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: The diagnostic accuracy for SLE diagnosis of the PNC assay was studied by cross-sectional assessment of blood samples from 148 healthy control subjects and a multicenter rheumatic group (MRG) of 529 patients with different rheumatic symptoms. A cohort of 69 patients with an established SLE diagnosis (SLE cohort) underwent longitudinal clinical and laboratory follow-up for analysis of the temporal relationships between PNC positivity and specific clinical manifestations.

Results: In 35 of 529 MRG patients, 13 of whom had SLE, the PNC assay result was positive. Combined positivity of the PNC assay and anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies increased specificity and positive predictive value for SLE diagnosis to 0.99 and 0.67, respectively. In the longitudinal study, 42 of 69 SLE cohort patients had positive results in the PNC assay at least once. PNC assay positivity was associated with current hematological manifestations and could predict mucocutaneous manifestations. When combined with hypocomplementemia, PNC positivity preceded increased Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index 2000 score, glomerulonephritis, and alopecia.

Conclusions: Serum-mediated PNC by polymorphonuclear leukocytes is commonly but not exclusively seen in patients with SLE. The PNC assay may be used in follow-up of patients with SLE and, especially in combination with other routinely assessed laboratory tests, may help to predict flares and different clinical manifestations, including glomerulonephritis. Our results encourage further development of the PNC assay as a complementary laboratory tool in management of patients with SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13075-016-0941-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4748567PMC
February 2016

Circulating complexes between tumour necrosis factor-alpha and etanercept predict long-term efficacy of etanercept in juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Acta Paediatr 2016 Apr 1;105(4):427-32. Epub 2016 Feb 1.

Department of Rheumatology, Clinical Sciences Lund, Lund University and Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.

Aim: The relationship between tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and drug survival had not been studied in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), and there were no laboratory tests to predict the long-term efficacy of biological drugs for JIA. We studied whether serum levels of TNF-α, free or bound to etanercept, could predict long-term efficacy of etanercept in children with JIA.

Methods: We included 41 biologic-naïve patients with JIA who started treatment with etanercept at Skåne University Hospital between 1999 and 2010. Serum taken at the start of treatment and at the six-week follow-up were analysed for TNF-α and the long-term efficacy of etanercept was assessed using the drug survival time.

Results: Levels of TNF-α increased significantly at the six-week follow-up, and this was almost exclusively comprised of TNF-α in complex with etanercept. The increase in TNF-α showed a dose-dependent correlation to long-term drug survival (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Increasing levels of circulating TNF-α at treatment initiation predicted long-term efficacy of etanercept in children with JIA, which may have been due to different pathophysiological mechanisms of inflammation. Our result may provide a helpful clinical tool, as high levels of circulating TNF-α/etanercept complexes could be used as a marker for the long-term efficacy of etanercept.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/apa.13319DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5066673PMC
April 2016

A subset of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus fails to degrade DNA from multiple clinically relevant sources.

Arthritis Res Ther 2015 Aug 13;17:205. Epub 2015 Aug 13.

Lund University, Department of Translational Medicine, Section of Medical Protein Chemistry, Inga Marie Nilssons gata 53 floor 4, 205 02, Malmö, Sweden.

Introduction: Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have a decreased ability to clear cell remnants and multiple deficiencies in the ability to degrade cellular chromatin have been linked to the disease. Since the discovery of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), a renewed interest has been sparked in this field of research with multiple studies reporting a decreased ability of patients with SLE to degrade NETs. In this study we extend these findings by investigating the ability of patients with SLE to degrade chromatin from multiple clinically relevant sources.

Methods: We use flow cytometry in combination with NET degradation and DNA zymogram assays to investigate the ability of sera from SLE patients to degrade chromatin from three different sources of DNA such as NETs, apoptotic and necrotic cells. This ability was further associated with clinical manifestations.

Results: We found that 61% of the patients had an affected degradation of at least one chromatin source. Further, degradation of NETs correlated with degradation of chromatin from secondary necrotic cells but not with degradation of chromatin from primary necrotic cells. Patients who fail to degrade several forms of DNA more often display anti-nuclear and nephritic involvement whereas this is not observed in patients with decreased ability to degrade chromatin from primary necrotic cells.

Conclusions: The majority of patients with SLE has a decreased ability to degrade chromatin from clinically relevant sources. This decreased ability is further reflected in their clinical presentation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13075-015-0726-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535789PMC
August 2015

Type I interferon-mediated skewing of the serotonin synthesis is associated with severe disease in systemic lupus erythematosus.

PLoS One 2015 21;10(4):e0125109. Epub 2015 Apr 21.

Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Section of Rheumatology, Lund University and Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.

Serotonin, a highly pro-inflammatory molecule released by activated platelets, is formed by tryptophan. Tryptophan is also needed in the production of kynurenine, a process mediated by the type I interferon (IFN)-regulated rate-limiting enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). The aim of this study was to investigate levels of serotonin in patients with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), association to clinical phenotype and possible involvement of IDO in regulation of serotonin synthesis. Serotonin levels were measured in serum and plasma from patients with SLE (n=148) and healthy volunteers (n=79) by liquid chromatography and ELISA, as well as intracellularly in platelets by flow cytometry. We found that SLE patients had decreased serotonin levels in serum (p=0.01) and platelets (p<0.0001) as compared to healthy individuals. SLE patients with ongoing type I IFN activity, as determined by an in-house reporter assay, had decreased serum levels of serotonin (p=0.0008) as well as increased IDO activity (p<0.0001), as determined by the kynurenine/tryptophan ratio measured by liquid chromatography. Furthermore, SLE sera induced IDO expression in WISH cells in a type I IFN-dependent manner (p=0.008). Also platelet activation contributed to reduce overall availability of serotonin levels in platelets and serum (p<0.05). Decreased serum serotonin levels were associated with severe SLE with presence of anti-dsDNA antibodies and nephritis. In all, reduced serum serotonin levels in SLE patients were related to severe disease phenotype, including nephritis, suggesting involvement of important immunopathological processes. Further, our data suggest that type I IFNs, present in SLE sera, are able to up-regulate IDO expression, which may lead to decreased serum serotonin levels.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0125109PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4405357PMC
March 2016

Platelet activation and anti-phospholipid antibodies collaborate in the activation of the complement system on platelets in systemic lupus erythematosus.

PLoS One 2014 12;9(6):e99386. Epub 2014 Jun 12.

Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Section of Rheumatology, Lund University and Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.

Anti-phospholipid (aPL) antibodies are important contributors to development of thrombosis in patients with the autoimmune rheumatic disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The underlying mechanism of aPL antibody-mediated thrombosis is not fully understood but existing data suggest that platelets and the complement system are key components. Complement activation on platelets is seen in SLE patients, especially in patients with aPL antibodies, and has been related to venous thrombosis and stroke. The aim of this study was to investigate if aPL antibodies could support classical pathway activation on platelets in vitro as well as in SLE patients. Furthermore, we investigated if complement deposition on platelets was associated with vascular events, either arterial or venous, when the data had been adjusted for traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Finally, we analyzed if platelet complement deposition, both C1q and C4d, was specific for SLE. We found that aPL antibodies supported C4d deposition on platelets in vitro as well as in SLE patients (p = 0.001 and p<0.05, respectively). Complement deposition on platelets was increased in SLE patients when compared with healthy individuals (p<0.0001). However, high levels of C4d deposition and a pronounced C1q deposition were also seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis. In SLE, C4d deposition on platelets was associated with platelet activation, complement consumption, disease activity and venous (OR = 5.3, p = 0.02), but not arterial, thrombosis, observations which were independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. In conclusion, several mechanisms operate in SLE to amplify platelet complement deposition, of which aPL antibodies and platelet activation were identified as important contributors in this investigation. Complement deposition on platelets was identified as a marker of venous, but not arterial thrombosis, in SLE patients independently of traditional risk factors and aPL antibodies. Further studies are needed to elucidate the role of complement deposition on platelets in development of venous thrombosis.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0099386PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4055750PMC
January 2015

Low production of reactive oxygen species in granulocytes is associated with organ damage in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Arthritis Res Ther 2014 Jun 5;16(3):R120. Epub 2014 Jun 5.

Introduction: Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) are main effector cells in the acute immune response. While the specific role of PMN in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and autoimmunity is still unclear, their importance in chronic inflammation is gaining more attention. Here we investigate aspects of function, bone marrow release and activation of PMN in patients with SLE.

Methods: The following PMN functions and subsets were evaluated using flow cytometry; (a) production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) after ex vivo stimulation with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) or Escherichia coli (E. coli); (b) capacity to phagocytose antibody-coated necrotic cell material; (c) PMN recently released from bone marrow, defined as percentage of CD10(-)D16(low) in peripheral blood, and (d) PMN activation markers; CD11b, CD62L and C5aR.

Results: SLE patients (n = 92) showed lower ROS production compared with healthy controls (n = 38) after activation ex vivo. The ROS production was not associated with corticosteroid dose or other immunotherapies. PMA induced ROS production was significantly reduced in patients with severe disease. In contrast, neither ROS levels after E. coli activation, nor the capacity to phagocytose were associated with disease severity. This suggests that decreased ROS production after PMA activation is a sign of changed PMN behaviour rather than generally impaired functions. The CD10(-)CD16(low) phenotype constitute 2% of PMN in peripheral blood of SLE patients compared with 6.4% in controls, indicating a decreased release of PMN from the bone marrow in SLE. A decreased expression of C5aR on PMN was observed in SLE patients, pointing towards in vivo activation.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that PMN from SLE patients have altered function, are partly activated and are released abnormally from bone marrow. The association between low ROS formation in PMN and disease severity is consistent with findings in other autoimmune diseases and might be considered as a risk factor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/ar4575DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4075132PMC
June 2014

Serum from patients with systemic vasculitis induces alternatively activated macrophage M2c polarization.

Clin Immunol 2014 May-Jun;152(1-2):10-9. Epub 2014 Mar 12.

Department of Clinical Sciences in Lund, Section of Nephrology, Lund University, BMC B13, 221 84 Lund, Sweden. Electronic address:

Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody associated vasculitides (AAV) are conditions defined by an autoimmune small vessel inflammation. Dying neutrophils are found around the inflamed vessels and the balance between infiltrating neutrophils and macrophages is important to prevent autoimmunity. Here we investigate how sera from AAV patients may regulate macrophage polarization and function. Macrophages from healthy individuals were differentiated into M0, M1, M2a, M2b or M2c macrophages using a standardized protocol, and phenotyped according to their expression surface markers and cytokine production. These phenotypes were compared with those of macrophages stimulated with serum from AAV patients or healthy controls. While the healthy control sera induced a M0 macrophage, AAV serum promoted polarization towards the M2c subtype. No sera induced M1, M2a or M2b macrophages. The M2c subtype showed increased phagocytosis capacity compared with the other subtypes. The M2c polarization found in AAV is consistent with previous reports of increased levels of M2c-associated cytokines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clim.2014.02.016DOI Listing
July 2014

A candidate gene approach to ANCA-associated vasculitis reveals links to the C3 and CTLA-4 genes but not to the IL1-Ra and Fcγ-RIIa genes.

Kidney Blood Press Res 2013 14;37(6):641-8. Epub 2013 Dec 14.

Departments of Nephrology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Background/aims: The aim of the study is to search for associations between Antineutrophil cytoplasm antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV) and polymorphisms in the genes of four key molecules possibly involved in different pathogenic pathways; complement C3, CTLA-4, Fcγ-RIIa and IL1-Ra.

Patients And Methods: Patients with AAV (n=105) subgrouped as microscopic polyangiitis or granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener's granulomatosis) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) or proteinase 3 (PR3) ANCA positive were compared to a control group of 200 blood donors. Polymorphisms in the genes were analysed with PCR amplification of DNA.

Results: The diagnosis of AAV was confirmed in the 105 cases. The gene frequency of C3F was 0.27 in the PR3-ANCA subgroup (p=0.041) compared to 0,19 in the control group. The number of patients homozygous for the shortest 86 bp allele of CTLA-4 was significantly decreased in the whole group of patients (p=0.049). No differences were evident in the Fcγ-RIIa and IL1-Ra polymorphisms when compared to controls, neither in the whole group of patients, nor in any of the sub-groups.

Conclusion: The aberrant gene frequency of the C3F allele among PR3-ANCA positive patients and the findings with the CTLA-4 polymorphism indicates that complement may be involved in pathogenesis and that T-cell activation also is of importance in these diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000355744DOI Listing
August 2014

Degradation of neutrophil extracellular traps co-varies with disease activity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Arthritis Res Ther 2013 Aug 14;15(4):R84. Epub 2013 Aug 14.

Introduction: The ability to degrade neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) is reduced in a subset of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). NETs consist of chromatin covered with antimicrobial enzymes and are normally degraded by DNase-I, an enzyme which is known to have reduced activity in SLE. Decreased ability to degrade NETs is associated with disease activity. In the current study we investigated how the ability of serum from SLE patients to degrade NETs varies during the course of SLE as well as what impact this may have for the clinical phenotype of SLE.

Methods: Serum from 69 patients with SLE, included in a prospective study, was taken every 60 days for a median of 784 days. The ability of serum to degrade NETs was determined and associated with clinical parameters occurring before and at the time of sampling, as well as after sampling by using conditional logistic regression.

Results: As many as 41% of all patients in the study showed decreased ability to degrade NETs at least once, but with a median of 20% of all time points. Decreased degradation was associated with manifestations of glomerulonephritis as well as low complement levels and elevated levels of antibodies directed against histones and DNA. Furthermore, the odds ratio for the patient to develop alopecia and fever after an episode of decreased NETs degradation was increased by four to five times compared to normal.

Conclusions: Decreased degradation of NETs is associated with clinical manifestations in SLE and may contribute to disease pathogenesis. Potential therapeutics restoring the ability to degrade NETs could be beneficial for certain patients with SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/ar4264DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978901PMC
August 2013

Increased serum levels of S100A8/A9 and S100A12 are associated with cardiovascular disease in patients with inactive systemic lupus erythematosus.

Rheumatology (Oxford) 2013 Nov 13;52(11):2048-55. Epub 2013 Aug 13.

Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Rheumatology, Lund University, SE-221 85 Lund, Sweden.

Objectives: Patients with SLE have an increased morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD). The reason for this is not entirely understood, but is believed to be partly related to the long-lasting inflammatory process seen in SLE. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether there is an association between CVD and serum levels of the proinflammatory proteins S100A8/A9 and S100A12 in SLE.

Methods: Serum levels of S100A8/A9 and S100A12 were measured with ELISA in 237 SLE patients with clinically inactive disease and without infections, as well as in 100 healthy individuals. Cardiovascular manifestations were defined according to the SLICC/ACR Damage Index (SLICC/ACR-DI).

Results: Serum levels of S100A8/A9 were elevated in our inactive SLE patients as compared with healthy individuals (P < 0.0001), which was not seen for S100A12 (P = 0.12). SLE patients with a history of CVD had increased serum levels of both S100A8/A9 and S100A12 compared with patients with no CVD or venous thromboembolism (P = 0.003 and P = 0.006, respectively). The presence of organ damage according to SLICC/ACR-DI was associated with an increase in both S100A8/A9 and S100A12 serum levels (P = 0.001 and P = 0.006, respectively).

Conclusion: Elevated serum levels of S100A8/A9 and S100A12 may be used as an indicator of severe disease and CVD in SLE, suggesting that SLE patients with elevated serum S100A8/A9 and S100A12 concentrations may benefit from more intense cardiovascular primary preventive strategies and possibly also from more intense and early immunosuppressive treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/ket263DOI Listing
November 2013

Vaccination against encapsulated bacteria in hereditary C2 deficiency results in antibody response and opsonization due to antibody-dependent complement activation.

Clin Immunol 2012 Sep 6;144(3):214-27. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

Department of Infectious Diseases Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.

Hereditary C2 deficiency (C2D) is an important susceptibility factor for invasive infections caused by encapsulated bacteria such as pneumococci and Haemophilus influenzae type b. The infections are mostly seen in childhood indicating that antibody-mediated acquired immunity is affected. C2D persons and healthy controls were vaccinated with ActHIB® and Pneumo23®. Analysis of specific antibodies to pneumococci serotype 6B, 7F, and 23F, and Hib was performed. Post-vaccination IgG antibodies against pneumococci serotype 6B and 23F at a concentration ≥1.0mg/L was found in similar frequency in C2D persons and controls. Post-vaccination sera from C2D persons showed poor complement-mediated opsonization and phagocytosis of pneumococci by granulocytes when depending on classical and lectin pathway activation only, but increased (p=0.007) and equaled that of the normal controls when also alternative pathway activation was allowed due to antibody-dependent C2 bypass activation. In conclusion, the C2D persons benefited from the vaccination and achieve an increased phagocytic capacity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clim.2012.06.008DOI Listing
September 2012

Combination of autoantibodies against different histone proteins influences complement-dependent phagocytosis of necrotic cell material by polymorphonuclear leukocytes in systemic lupus erythematosus.

J Rheumatol 2012 Aug 1;39(8):1619-27. Epub 2012 Jul 1.

Department of Laboratory Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Objective: Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) with autoantibody-coated engulfed necrotic cell material (NC) are frequently seen in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We evaluated the roles of complement, different antihistone antibodies (anti-H ab), and oxidative burst in the phagocytosis of NC by PMN, as well as association to disease activity and clinical phenotype in SLE.

Methods: ELISA and immunoblot were used to measure antibodies to different histone proteins in sera from patients with SLE and complement-deficient individuals. Phagocytosis of NC by PMN and oxidative burst activity was assessed by flow cytometry.

Results: A clearly increased phagocytosis of NC was seen in patients with active SLE, which was associated with high levels of anti-H ab concentrations and oxidative burst activity. The complement system contributed to efficient phagocytosis of NC by PMN through activation of the classical pathway, and the phagocytosis was mediated by FcγRIIA, FcγRIIIB, and CR1 in combination. A pattern of high phagocytosis, consumption of classical pathway components, and a broad anti-H ab repertoire was seen particularly in patients with nephritis and serositis. The combination of antibodies to several different histone proteins, often with anti-DNA antibodies, promoted an efficient uptake of NC, whereas antibodies against only histone H1 or a few histones seemed to be of less importance.

Conclusion: The distributions of specificities among anti-H ab are of great importance in the complement-dependent phagocytosis of debris from NC in SLE. Measurement of anti-H ab could be useful in monitoring of this disease and contribute to improved understanding of the autoimmune process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3899/jrheum.111511DOI Listing
August 2012

IgG glycan hydrolysis by endoglycosidase S diminishes the proinflammatory properties of immune complexes from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: a possible new treatment?

Arthritis Rheum 2012 Aug;64(8):2698-706

Division of Rheumatology, Skåne University Hospital and Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Objective: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with chronic or episodic inflammation in several organ systems, related to the presence of circulating and tissue-deposited immune complexes (ICs) that stimulate leukocytes through Fcγ receptors (FcγR) with subsequent inflammation. Treatment with endoglycosidase S (EndoS), an IgG glycan-hydrolyzing bacterial enzyme from Streptococcus pyogenes, has shown beneficial effects in several experimental animal models of chronic inflammatory disease. This study was undertaken to investigate whether EndoS affects the proinflammatory properties of ICs and has the potential to be developed as a therapy for SLE.

Methods: ICs purified from SLE patients or RNA-containing ICs formed in vitro were treated with EndoS and used in several assays reflecting different important features of SLE pathogenesis, such as phagocytosis by polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs) and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDCs), complement activation, and interferon-α (IFNα) production by PDCs.

Results: EndoS treatment abolished all proinflammatory properties of the ICs investigated. This included FcγR-mediated phagocytosis by PDCs (P = 0.001) and subsequent production of IFNα (P = 0.002), IC-induced classical pathway of complement activation (P = 0.008), chemotaxis, and oxidative burst activity of PMNs (P = 0.002). EndoS treatment also had a direct effect on the molecular structure of ICs, causing decreased IC size and glycosylation.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that EndoS treatment has prominent effects on several pathogenetically important IC-mediated events, and suggest that EndoS has the potential to be developed as a novel therapy for SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.34454DOI Listing
August 2012

Neutrophil extracellular traps that are not degraded in systemic lupus erythematosus activate complement exacerbating the disease.

J Immunol 2012 Apr 17;188(7):3522-31. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Section of Medical Protein Chemistry, Department of Laboratory Medicine Malmö, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, 205 02 Malmö, Sweden.

Ongoing inflammation including activation of the complement system is a hallmark of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Antimicrobial neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are composed of secreted chromatin that may act as a source of autoantigens typical for SLE. In this study, we investigated how complement interacts with NETs and how NET degradation is affected by complement in SLE patients. We found that sera from a subset of patients with active SLE had a reduced ability to degrade in vitro-generated NETs, which was mostly restored when these patients were in remission. Patients that failed to degrade NETs had a more active disease and they also displayed lower levels of complement proteins C4 and C3 in blood. We discovered that NETs activated complement in vitro and that deposited C1q inhibited NET degradation including a direct inhibition of DNase-I by C1q. Complement deposition on NETs may facilitate autoantibody production, and indeed, Abs against NETs and NET epitopes were more pronounced in patients with impaired ability to degrade NETs. NET-bound autoantibodies inhibited degradation but also further increased C1q deposition, potentially exacerbating the disease. Thus, NETs are a potent complement activator, and this interaction may play an important role in SLE. Targeting complement with inhibitors or by removing complement activators such as NETs could be beneficial for patients with SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1102404DOI Listing
April 2012