Publications by authors named "Sang-Cheol Bae"

379 Publications

Neuropsychiatric Events in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Arthritis Rheumatol 2021 May 27. Epub 2021 May 27.

Copenhagen Lupus and Vasculitis Clinic, 4242, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Objectives: To determine predictors for change in neuropsychiatric (NP) event status in a large, prospective, international, inception cohort of SLE patients METHODS: Upon enrollment and annually thereafter, NP events attributed to SLE and non-SLE causes and physician determined resolution were documented. Factors potentially associated with onset and resolution of NP events were determined by time-to-event analysis using a multistate modelling structure.

Results: NP events occurred in 955/1,827 (52.3%) patients and 592/1910 (31.0%) unique events were attributed to SLE. For SLE NP events multivariate analysis revealed positive associations with male sex, concurrent non-SLE NP events excluding headache, active SLE and corticosteroids. There was a negative association with Asian race/ethnicity, post-secondary education, and immunosuppressive or anti-malarial drugs. For non-SLE NP events, excluding headache, there was a positive association with concurrent SLE NP events and negative associations with African and Asian race/ethnicity. NP events attributed to SLE had a higher resolution rate than non-SLE NP events, with the exception of headache that had comparable resolution rates. For SLE NP events, multivariate analysis revealed resolution was more common with Asian race/ethnicity and for central/focal NP events. For non-SLE NP events resolution was more common with African race/ethnicity and less common with older age at SLE diagnosis.

Conclusions: In a large and long-term study of the occurrence and resolution of NP events in SLE we identified subgroups with better and worse prognosis. The course of NP events differs greatly depending on their nature and attribution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.41876DOI Listing
May 2021

Characteristics in Pediatric Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Korea.

J Korean Med Sci 2021 May 24;36(20):e148. Epub 2021 May 24.

Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea.

Background: Based on the reports of low prevalence and severity of pediatric severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections, the Korean government has released new SARS-CoV-2 infection response and treatment guidelines for children under the age of 12 years. The government has further directed school reopening under strict preventive measures. However, there is still considerable concern on the impact of school reopening on community transmission of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In the present study, we aimed to evaluate the appropriateness of these directives and the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections in children as compared to adults using sufficient national sample data.

Methods: In the present study, we evaluated the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pediatric patients as compared to adults by analyzing the length of hospital stays (LOS), medical expenses, and hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admission rates. A multivariate linear regression analysis was carried out to examine the effects of COVID-19 patients that the characteristics on the LOS and medical expenses, and multivariate logistic regression analysis were performed to identify COVID-19 characteristics that affect hospital and ICU admission rates and to prove the low SARS-CoV-2 infection severity in pediatric patients.

Results: The hospitalization period for children aged 0-9 was 37% shorter and that of patients aged 10-19 years was 31% shorter than those of older age groups ( < 0.001). The analysis of the medical expenses by age showed that on average, medical expenses for children were approximately 4,900 USD lower for children than for patients over 80 years of age. The linear regression analysis also showed that patients who were 0-9 years old spent 87% and those aged 10-19 118% less on medical expenses than those aged 70 and over, even after the correction of other variables ( < 0.001). The probability of hospitalization was the lowest at 10-19 years old (odds ratio [OR], 0.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.03-0.09), and their ICU admission rate was also the lowest at 0.14 (OR, 0.14; 95% CI, 0.08-0.24). On the other hand, the likelihood of hospitalization and ICU admission was the highest in children aged 0-9 years, and among patients under the age of 50 years in general.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated the low severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection in younger patients (0-19 years) by analyzing the LOS, medical expenses, hospital, and intensive care unit admission rates as outcome variables. As the possibility to develop severe infection of coronavirus at the age of 10-19 was the lowest, a mitigation policy is also required for middle and high school students. In addition, children with underlying diseases need to be protected from high-risk infection environments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e148DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8144591PMC
May 2021

Lupus susceptibility region containing CDKN1B rs34330 mechanistically influences expression and function of multiple target genes, also linked to proliferation and apoptosis.

Arthritis Rheumatol 2021 May 13. Epub 2021 May 13.

Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

Objective: A recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) reported a significant genetic association between rs34330 of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1B (CDKN1B) and risk of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in Han Chinese. This study aims to validate the reported association and elucidate the biochemical mechanisms underlying the variant's effect.

Methods: We performed allelic association with SLE followed by meta-analysis across 11 independent cohorts (n=28,872). We applied in silico bioinformatics and experimental validation in SLE-relevant cell lines to determine the functional consequences of rs34330.

Results: We replicated genetic association between SLE and rs34330 (P =5.29x10 , OR (95% CI)=0.84 (0.81-0.87)). Follow-up bioinformatics and eQTL analysis suggest that rs34330 is located in active chromatin and potentially regulates several target genes. Using luciferase and ChIP-qPCR, we demonstrated substantial allele-specific promoter and enhancer activity, and allele-specific binding of three histone marks (H3K27ac, H3K4me3, H3K4me1), RNA pol II, CTCF, and a critical immune transcription factor (IRF-1). Chromosome conformation capture (3C) detected long-range chromatin interactions between rs34330 and the promoters of neighboring genes APOLD1 and DDX47, and effects on CDKN1B and the other target genes were directly validated by CRISPR-based genome editing. Finally, CRISPR-dCas9-based epigenetic activation/silencing confirmed these results. Gene-edited cell lines also showed higher levels of proliferation and apoptosis.

Conclusion: Collectively, these findings suggest a mechanism whereby the rs34330 risk allele (C) influences the presence of histone marks, RNA pol II, and the IRF-1 transcription factor to regulate expression of several target genes linked to proliferation and apoptosis, which potentially underlie the association of rs34330 with SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.41799DOI Listing
May 2021

Risk Factors of Outcomes of COVID-19 Patients in Korea: Focus on Early Symptoms.

J Korean Med Sci 2021 May 10;36(18):e132. Epub 2021 May 10.

Department of Urology, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread around the globe, and it is important to determine the risk factors of death in the general population. Our study aimed to determine the risk factors of death and severe illness requiring supplemental oxygen therapy based on the demographic and clinical characteristics of COVID-19 patients in Korea.

Methods: In this study, we used data provided by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) and analyzed a total of 5,068 patients with COVID-19, excluding 19 pregnant women and 544 individuals with missing data. We performed logistic regression analysis to determine the impact of early symptoms on survival and severe disease. Logistic regression models included sex, age, number of comorbidities, symptoms on admission, blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature as explanatory variables, and death and oxygen therapy as outcome variables.

Results: Logistic regression analyses revealed that the male sex, older age (≥ 60 years), higher number of comorbidities, presence of symptoms on admission, heart rate ≥ 120 bpm, and body temperature ≥ 37.5°C presented with higher risk of in-hospital death and oxygen therapy requirement. Conversely, rhinorrhea and headache were associated with a low risk of death and oxygen therapy requirement. The findings showed that cough, sputum, and fever were the most common symptoms on admission, while 25.3% of patients with COVID-19 were asymptomatic.

Conclusion: COVID-19 patients with high-risk early symptoms on admission, such as dyspnea and altered mental status, and those without low-risk symptoms of rhinorrhea and headache should be included in priority treatment groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e132DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8111043PMC
May 2021

Anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA in the SLICC classification criteria dataset.

Lupus 2021 Jul 6;30(8):1283-1288. Epub 2021 May 6.

Amsterdam University Medical Centres, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Objective: Anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA is a common isotype of anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I in SLE. Anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I was not included in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) SLE classification criteria, but was included in the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) criteria. We aimed to evaluate the prevalence of anti-beta 2-glycoprotein I IgA in SLE versus other rheumatic diseases. In addition, we examined the association between anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA and disease manifestations in SLE.

Methods: The dataset consisted of 1384 patients, 657 with a consensus physician diagnosis of SLE and 727 controls with other rheumatic diseases. Anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I isotypes were measured by ELISA. Patients with a consensus diagnosis of SLE were compared to controls with respect to presence of anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I. Among patients with SLE, we assessed the association between anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA and clinical manifestations.

Results: The prevalence of anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA was 14% in SLE patients and 7% in rheumatic disease controls (odds ratio, OR 2.3, 95% CI: 1.6, 3.3). It was more common in SLE patients who were younger patients and of African descent (p = 0.019). Eleven percent of SLE patients had anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA alone (no anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgG or IgM). There was a significant association between anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA and anti-dsDNA (p = 0.001) and the other antiphospholipid antibodies (p = 0.0004). There was no significant correlation of anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA with any of the other ACR or SLICC clinical criteria for SLE. Those with anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA tended to have a history of thrombosis (12% vs 6%, p = 0.071), but the difference was not statistically significant.

Conclusion: We found the anti-beta 2 glycoprotein I IgA isotype to be more common in patients with SLE and in particular, with African descent. It could occur alone without other isotypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/09612033211014248DOI Listing
July 2021

Risk of Tuberculosis Development in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Receiving Targeted Therapy: a Prospective Single Center Cohort Study.

J Korean Med Sci 2021 Mar 15;36(10):e70. Epub 2021 Mar 15.

Department of Rheumatology, Hanyang University Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Seoul, Korea.

Background: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) undergoing targeted therapy have a higher risk of developing tuberculosis (TB). This requires diagnosis and treatment of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). We aimed to evaluate whether diagnosis and treatment of LTBI in RA are effective in Korea, and to estimate the risk of TB development by calculating the incidence rate of active TB among RA patients receiving targeted therapy.

Methods: We analyzed data from two prospective cohort studies of RA patients who received biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) or Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor. We selected new starters of targeted therapy and classified them into three groups receiving tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor, non-TNF inhibitor, and JAK inhibitor, respectively. We then compared LTBI prevalence, treatments, and active TB incidence during first-line therapy in each group.

Results: A total of 765 RA patients (574 TNF inhibitor users, 132 non-TNF inhibitor users, and 59 JAK inhibitor users) were included in this study. Observation periods were 1,255.2 person-years (PYs), 264.7 PYs, and 53.3 PYs, respectively. All 765 patients underwent LTBI screening, and the positivity rate was 26.5% (n = 203). Of the 203 LTBI-positive patients, 189 (93.1%) received treatment. Only one patient, who was in the TNF inhibitor group, and was negative for the interferon gamma release assay (IGRA), did not receive LTBI treatment and developed active TB during follow-up.

Conclusion: Although the prevalence of LTBI in RA patients who started targeted therapy was slightly elevated, the Korean guidelines specifying LTBI screening and treatment were effective in preventing latent TB from becoming active.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e70DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7961872PMC
March 2021

The ALPHA Project: Establishing consensus and prioritisation of global community recommendations to address major challenges in lupus diagnosis, care, treatment and research.

Lupus Sci Med 2021 02;8(1)

Research, Lupus Foundation of America Inc, Washington, District of Columbia, USA.

The Addressing Lupus Pillars for Health Advancement (ALPHA) Project is a global consensus effort to identify, prioritise and address top barriers in lupus impacting diagnosis, care, treatment and research. To conduct this process, the ALPHA Project convened a multistakeholder Global Advisory Committee (GAC) of lupus experts and collected input from global audiences, including patients. In phase I, the ALPHA Project used expert interviews and a global survey of lupus experts to identify and categorise barriers into three overarching pillars: drug development, clinical care and access to care. In phase II, reported here, the GAC developed recommended actionable solutions to address these previously identified barriers through an in-person stakeholder meeting, followed by a two-round scoring process. Recommendations were assessed for feasibility, impact and timeline for implementation (FIT), where potential FIT component values were between 1 and 3 and total scores were between 3 and 9. Higher scores represented higher achievability based on the composite of the three criteria. Simplifying and standardising outcomes measures, including steroid sparing as an outcome (drug development) and defining the lupus spectrum (clinical care) ranked as the highest two priority solutions during the GAC meeting and received high FIT scores (7.67 and 7.44, respectively). Leveraging social media (access to care) received the highest FIT score across all pillars (7.86). Cross-cutting themes of many solutions include leveraging digital technology and applying specific considerations for special populations, including paediatrics. Implementing the recommendations to address key barriers to drug development, clinical care and access to care is essential to improving the quality of life of adults and children with lupus. Multistakeholder collaboration and guidance across existing efforts globally is warranted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/lupus-2020-000433DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7875256PMC
February 2021

Lower vitamin D is associated with metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance in systemic lupus: data from an international inception cohort.

Rheumatology (Oxford) 2021 Feb 8. Epub 2021 Feb 8.

Department of Rheumatology, Kantonsspital Schaffhausen, Schaffhausen, Schaffhausen, CH.

Objectives: Vitamin D (25(OH)D) deficiency and metabolic syndrome (MetS) may both contribute to increased cardiovascular risk in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We aimed to examine the association of demographic factors, SLE phenotype, therapy and vitamin D levels with MetS and insulin resistance.

Methods: The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) enrolled patients recently diagnosed with SLE (<15 months) from 33 centres across 11 countries from 2000. Clinical, laboratory and therapeutic data were collected. Vitamin D level was defined according to tertiles based on distribution across this cohort, which were set at T1 (10-36 nmol/l), T2 (37-60 nmol/l) and T3 (61-174 nmol/l). MetS was defined according to the 2009 consensus statement from the International Diabetes Federation. Insulin resistance was determined using the HOMA-IR model. Linear and logistic regressions were used to assess the association of variables with vitamin D levels.

Results: Of the 1847 patients, 1163 (63%) had vitamin D measured and 398 (34.2%) subjects were in the lowest 25(OH)D tertile. MetS was present in 286 of 860 (33%) patients whose status could be determined. Patients with lower 25(OH)D were more likely to have MetS and higher HOMA-IR. The MetS components, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia and decreased HDL were all significantly associated with lower 25(OH)D. Increased average glucocorticoid exposure was associated with higher insulin resistance.

Conclusions: MetS and insulin resistance are associated with lower vitamin D in patients with SLE. Further studies could determine whether vitamin D repletion confers better control of these cardiovascular risk factors and improve long-term outcomes in SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keab090DOI Listing
February 2021

Filgotinib versus placebo or adalimumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and inadequate response to methotrexate: a phase III randomised clinical trial.

Ann Rheum Dis 2021 Jul 27;80(7):848-858. Epub 2021 Jan 27.

Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of the Janus kinase-1-preferential inhibitor filgotinib versus placebo or tumour necrosis factor-α inhibitor therapy in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) despite ongoing treatment with methotrexate (MTX).

Methods: This 52-week, multicentre, double-blind, placebo-controlled and active-controlled phase III trial evaluated once-daily oral filgotinib in patients with RA randomised 3:3:2:3 to filgotinib 200 mg (FIL200) or filgotinib 100 mg (FIL100), subcutaneous adalimumab 40 mg biweekly, or placebo (through week 24), all with stable weekly background MTX. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients achieving 20% improvement in American College of Rheumatology criteria (ACR20) at week 12. Additional efficacy outcomes were assessed sequentially. Safety was assessed from adverse events and laboratory abnormalities.

Results: The proportion of patients (n=1755 randomised and treated) achieving ACR20 at week 12 was significantly higher for FIL200 (76.6%) and FIL100 (69.8%) versus placebo (49.9%; treatment difference (95% CI), 26.7% (20.6% to 32.8%) and 19.9% (13.6% to 26.2%), respectively; both p<0.001). Filgotinib was superior to placebo in key secondary endpoints assessing RA signs and symptoms, physical function and structural damage. FIL200 was non-inferior to adalimumab in terms of Disease Activity Score in 28 joints with C reactive protein ≤3.2 at week 12 (p<0.001); FIL100 did not achieve non-inferiority. Adverse events and laboratory abnormalities were comparable among active treatment arms.

Conclusions: Filgotinib improved RA signs and symptoms, improved physical function, inhibited radiographic progression and was well tolerated in patients with RA with inadequate response to MTX. FIL200 was non-inferior to adalimumab.

Trial Registration Number: NCT02889796.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-219214DOI Listing
July 2021

Excess mortality persists in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Int J Rheum Dis 2021 Mar 19;24(3):364-372. Epub 2021 Jan 19.

Department of Rheumatology, Hanyang University Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Seoul, Korea.

Objectives: To investigate the causes and risk of death in a large cohort of Korean patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: Patients in the Hanyang BAE (Bae registry of Autoimmune diseases for Epidemiology) RA cohort who fulfilled the American College of Rheumatology criteria were analyzed. A total of 2355 patients were enrolled from October 2001 to December 2015. Mortality data were derived by linking with data from the Korean National Statistical Office. Standardized mortality ratio was estimated by dividing observed deaths by expected number of deaths in the general population.

Results: Over the observation period, 225 deaths were reported. Total age- and sex-adjusted standardized mortality ratio was 1.65 (95% confidence interval 1.44-1.87). The most common cause of death was malignancy (40 cases; 17.8%), followed by respiratory disease (38 cases; 16.9%) and cardiovascular disease (32 cases; 14.2%). Mortality rate and causes of death differed according to year and age of RA onset. Compared with survivors, individuals who died were more likely to be male, smokers, diagnosed with RA at an older age, and to have long disease duration, higher erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein, higher rheumatoid factor positivity rate, more severe radiographic damage, and more comorbidities.

Conclusion: The mortality rate of patients with RA remains higher than that of the general population. Therefore, to improve the survival of patients with RA, attention should be paid to the management of comorbidities as well as to the RA itself.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1756-185X.14058DOI Listing
March 2021

Genetic variants shape rheumatoid arthritis-specific transcriptomic features in CD4 T cells through differential DNA methylation, explaining a substantial proportion of heritability.

Ann Rheum Dis 2021 Jul 12;80(7):876-883. Epub 2021 Jan 12.

Department of Rheumatology, Hanyang University Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Objective: CD4 T cells have been suggested as the most disease-relevant cell type in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in which RA-risk non-coding variants exhibit allele-specific effects on regulation of RA-driving genes. This study aimed to understand RA-specific signatures in CD4 T cells using multi-omics data, interpreting inter-omics relationships in shaping the RA transcriptomic landscape.

Methods: We profiled genome-wide variants, gene expression and DNA methylation in CD4 T cells from 82 patients with RA and 40 healthy controls using high-throughput technologies. We investigated differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and differential methylated regions (DMRs) in RA and localised quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for expression and methylation. We then integrated these based on individual-level correlations to inspect DEG-regulating sources and investigated the potential regulatory roles of RA-risk variants by a partitioned-heritability enrichment analysis with RA genome-wide association summary statistics.

Results: A large number of RA-specific DEGs were identified (n=2575), highlighting T cell differentiation and activation pathways. RA-specific DMRs, preferentially located in T cell regulatory regions, were correlated with the expression levels of 548 DEGs mostly in the same topologically associating domains. In addition, expressional variances in 771 and 83 DEGs were partially explained by expression QTLs for DEGs and methylation QTLs (meQTLs) for DEG-correlated DMRs, respectively. A large number of RA variants were moderately to strongly correlated with meQTLs. DEG-correlated DMRs, enriched with meQTLs, had strongly enriched heritability of RA.

Conclusion: Our findings revealed that the methylomic changes, driven by RA heritability-explaining variants, shape the differential expression of a substantial fraction of DEGs in CD4 T cells in patients with RA, reinforcing the importance of a multidimensional approach in disease-relevant tissues.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-219152DOI Listing
July 2021

Large-scale meta-analysis across East Asian and European populations updated genetic architecture and variant-driven biology of rheumatoid arthritis, identifying 11 novel susceptibility loci.

Ann Rheum Dis 2020 Dec 11. Epub 2020 Dec 11.

Department of Biology and Department of Life and Nanopharmaceutical Sciences, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Objectives: Nearly 110 susceptibility loci for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with modest effect sizes have been identified by population-based genetic association studies, suggesting a large number of undiscovered variants behind a highly polygenic genetic architecture of RA. Here, we performed the largest-ever trans-ancestral meta-analysis with the aim to identify new RA loci and to better understand RA biology underlying genetic associations.

Methods: Genome-wide RA association summary statistics in three large case-control collections consisting of 311 292 individuals of Korean, Japanese and European populations were used in an inverse-variance-weighted fixed-effects meta-analysis. Several computational analyses using public omics resources were conducted to prioritise causal variants and genes, RA variant-implicating features (tissues, pathways and transcription factors) and potentially repurposable drugs for RA treatment.

Results: We identified 11 new RA susceptibility loci that explained 6.9% and 1.8% of the single-nucleotide polymorphism-based heritability in East Asians and Europeans, respectively, and confirmed 71 known non-human leukocyte antigens (HLA) susceptibility loci, identifying 90 independent association signals. The RA variants were preferentially located in binding sites of various transcription factors and in cell type-specific transcription-activation histone marks that simultaneously highlighted the importance of CD4 T-cell activation and the potential role of non-immune organs in RA pathogenesis. A total of 615 plausible effector genes, based on gene-based associations, expression-associated variants and chromatin interaction, included targets of drugs approved for RA treatments and potentially repurposable drugs approved for other indications.

Conclusion: Our findings provide useful insights regarding RA genetic aetiology and variant-driven RA pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-219065DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8053349PMC
December 2020

Meta-analysis of 208370 East Asians identifies 113 susceptibility loci for systemic lupus erythematosus.

Ann Rheum Dis 2020 Dec 3. Epub 2020 Dec 3.

Department of Dermatology, First Affiliated Hospital, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui, China.

Objective: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disorder, has been associated with nearly 100 susceptibility loci. Nevertheless, these loci only partially explain SLE heritability and their putative causal variants are rarely prioritised, which make challenging to elucidate disease biology. To detect new SLE loci and causal variants, we performed the largest genome-wide meta-analysis for SLE in East Asian populations.

Methods: We newly genotyped 10 029 SLE cases and 180 167 controls and subsequently meta-analysed them jointly with 3348 SLE cases and 14 826 controls from published studies in East Asians. We further applied a Bayesian statistical approach to localise the putative causal variants for SLE associations.

Results: We identified 113 genetic regions including 46 novel loci at genome-wide significance (p<5×10). Conditional analysis detected 233 association signals within these loci, which suggest widespread allelic heterogeneity. We detected genome-wide associations at six new missense variants. Bayesian statistical fine-mapping analysis prioritised the putative causal variants to a small set of variants (95% credible set size ≤10) for 28 association signals. We identified 110 putative causal variants with posterior probabilities ≥0.1 for 57 SLE loci, among which we prioritised 10 most likely putative causal variants (posterior probability ≥0.8). Linkage disequilibrium score regression detected genetic correlations for SLE with albumin/globulin ratio (r=-0.242) and non-albumin protein (r=0.238).

Conclusion: This study reiterates the power of large-scale genome-wide meta-analysis for novel genetic discovery. These findings shed light on genetic and biological understandings of SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-219209DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8053352PMC
December 2020

Prediction of hospitalizations in systemic lupus erythematosus using the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Frailty Index (SLICC-FI).

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2020 Nov 5. Epub 2020 Nov 5.

Emory University School of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Objective: The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) frailty index (FI) predicts mortality and damage accrual in SLE, but its association with hospitalizations has not been described. We estimated the association of baseline SLICC-FI values with future hospitalizations in the SLICC inception cohort.

Methods: Baseline SLICC-FI scores were calculated. The number and duration of inpatient hospitalizations during follow-up were recorded. Negative binomial regression was used to estimate the association between baseline SLICC-FI values and the rate of hospitalizations per patient-year of follow-up. Linear regression was used to estimate the association of baseline SLICC-FI scores with the proportion of follow-up time spent in hospital. Multivariable models were adjusted for relevant baseline characteristics.

Results: The 1549 SLE patients eligible for this analysis were mostly female (88.7%) with mean (SD) age 35.7 (13.3) years and median (IQR) disease duration 1.2 (0.9-1.5) years at baseline. Mean (SD) baseline SLICC-FI was 0.17 (0.08). During mean (SD) follow-up of 7.2 (3.7) years, 614 patients (39.6%) experienced 1570 hospitalizations. Higher baseline SLICC-FI values (per 0.05 increment) were associated with more frequent hospitalizations during follow-up (Incidence Rate Ratio 1.21; 95%CI 1.13-1.30), adjusting for baseline age, sex, corticosteroid use, immunosuppressive use, ethnicity/location, SLE disease activity index 2000 (SLEDAI-2K), SLICC/ACR damage index (SDI), and disease duration. Among patients with ≥1 hospitalization, higher baseline SLICC-FI values predicted a greater proportion of follow-up time spent hospitalized (Relative Rate 1.09; 95%CI 1.02-1.16).

Conclusion: The SLICC-FI predicts future hospitalizations among incident SLE patients, further supporting the SLICC-FI as a valid health measure in SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acr.24504DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8096857PMC
November 2020

Allele-Specific Quantification of HLA-DRB1 Transcripts Reveals Imbalanced Allelic Expression That Modifies the Amino Acid Effects in HLA-DRβ1.

Arthritis Rheumatol 2021 03 3;73(3):381-391. Epub 2021 Feb 3.

Hanyang University Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Objective: HLA association fine-mapping studies have shown the effects of missense variants in HLA-DRB1 on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) susceptibility, prognosis, and autoantibody production. However, the phenotypic effects of expression changes in HLA-DRB1 remain poorly understood. Therefore, we investigated the allele-specific expression of HLA-DRB1 and its effect on an HLA-DRβ1 structure-associated trait in RA.

Methods: We quantified the allele-specific expression of each HLA-DRB1 3-field classic allele in 48 Korean RA patients with anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs) and 319 healthy European subjects by using both RNA sequencing and HLA-DRB1 genotype data to calculate the relative expression strength of multiple HLA-DRB1 alleles (n = 14 in Koreans and n = 25 in Europeans) in each population. The known association between ACPA level and alanine at position 74 of HLA-DRβ1 in ACPA-positive RA was revisited to understand the phenotypic effect of allele-specific expression of HLA-DRB1 by modeling multivariate logistic regression with the genomic dosage or relative expression dosage of Ala-74 in 2 independent sets of 1,723 Korean RA patients with ACPA.

Results: The relative expression strength was highly allele-specific, causing imbalanced allelic expression in HLA-DRB1 heterozygotes. The association between HLA-DRβ1 Ala-74 and ACPA level in RA was better explained by relative expression dosage of Ala-74 than by the genomic dosage (change in Akaike's information criterion = -6.98). Moreover, the expression variance of Ala-74 in Ala-74 heterozygotes with no genomic variance of Ala-74 was significantly associated with ACPA level (P = 2.26 × 10 ).

Conclusion: Our findings illustrate the advantage of integrating quantitative and qualitative changes in HLA-DRB1 into a single model for understanding HLA-DRB1 associations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.41535DOI Listing
March 2021

Efficacy and Safety of Rituximab in Korean Patients with Refractory Inflammatory Myopathies.

J Korean Med Sci 2020 Sep 28;35(38):e335. Epub 2020 Sep 28.

Department of Rheumatology, Hanyang University Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Seoul, Korea.

Background: Rituximab (RTX), a monoclonal antibody that selectively binds to CD20+ B cells, showed favorable outcomes in patients with idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM) in small case series, but the evidence is still not enough. Our goal was to determine the efficacy and safety of RTX for Korean patients with refractory IIM.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 16 patients with refractory IIM treated with RTX in seven tertiary rheumatology clinics in the Korea. The efficacy of RTX was evaluated with the improvement of serum creatine phosphokinase (CPK) level and physician's global assessment (PGA), and daily corticosteroid dose reduction. A > 25% decrease in CPK level, corticosteroid dose, or PGA was considered significant. A complete response (CR) was designated by meeting three efficacy criteria and a partial response (PR) by only two criteria.

Results: Sixteen patients with IIM were evaluated (13 female; median age, 51.8 years). All patients had received at least one conventional immunosuppressive agent (median, 3.6 [2.0-5.0]) and concomitant corticosteroids. The median CPK level and median dose of prednisolone was 421.0 units/L and 20.0 mg/day respectively. Eleven patients were treated with intravenous immunoglobulin. Seven patients received 2,000 mg of RTX and the others received lower dose. Twenty-four weeks after RTX treatment, 11 patients achieved a > 25% reduction in corticosteroid dose and CPK levels, and nine showed improved PGA. The overall response rate was 68.8% (11 patients). At the end of follow-up (median 24 weeks), 12 (75.0%) patients responded overall: four (25.0%) and eight (50.0%) patients achieved CR and PR, respectively. Baseline muscle enzyme levels were higher in responders than non-responders, but disease duration, RTX dose, ESR and serum CRP were not significantly different between the two groups. The rate of adverse event was 25.4/1,000 person-years.

Conclusion: RTX could be an effective and relatively safe therapeutic option in patients with refractory IIM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e335DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7521958PMC
September 2020

Phorbol ester activates human mesenchymal stem cells to inhibit B cells and ameliorate lupus symptoms in MRL. mice.

Theranostics 2020 13;10(22):10186-10199. Epub 2020 Aug 13.

College of Pharmacy, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Chungbuk 28160, Republic of Korea.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multi-organ autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibody production by hyper-activated B cells. Although mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) ameliorate lupus symptoms by inhibiting T cells, whether they inhibit B cells has been controversial. Here we address this issue and reveal how to prime MSCs to inhibit B cells and improve the efficacy of MSCs in SLE. We examined the effect of MSCs on purified B cells and the therapeutic efficacy of MSCs in lupus-prone MRL. mice. We screened chemicals for their ability to activate MSCs to inhibit B cells. Mouse bone marrow-derived MSCs inhibited mouse B cells in a CXCL12-dependent manner, whereas human bone marrow-derived MSCs (hMSCs) did not inhibit human B (hB) cells. We used a chemical approach to overcome this hurdle and found that phorbol myristate acetate (PMA), phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate, and ingenol-3-angelate rendered hMSCs capable of inhibiting IgM production by hB cells. As to the mechanism, PMA-primed hMSCs attracted hB cells in a CXCL10-dependent manner and induced hB cell apoptosis in a PD-L1-dependent manner. Finally, we showed that PMA-primed hMSCs were better than naïve hMSCs at ameliorating SLE progression in MRL. mice. Taken together, our data demonstrate that phorbol esters might be good tool compounds to activate MSCs to inhibit B cells and suggest that our chemical approach might allow for improvements in the therapeutic efficacy of hMSCs in SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7150/thno.46835DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7481409PMC
May 2021

Cancer risk in a large inception SLE cohort: Effects of demographics, smoking, and medications.

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2020 Aug 19. Epub 2020 Aug 19.

Department of Rheumatology, Center for Rheumatology Research Fossvogur, Landspitali University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Objective: To assess cancer risk factors in incident SLE.

Methods: Clinical variables and cancer outcomes were assessed annually among incident SLE patients. Multivariate hazard regression models (over-all risk, and most common cancers) included demographics and time-dependent medications (corticosteroids, antimalarial drugs, immunosuppressants), smoking, and adjusted mean SLE Disease Activity Index-2K.

Results: Among 1668 patients (average 9 years follow-up), 65 cancers occurred: 15 breast, 10 non-melanoma skin, seven lung, six hematological, six prostate, five melanoma, three cervical, three renal, two each gastric, head and neck, and thyroid, and one each rectal, sarcoma, thymoma, and uterine cancers. Half of cancers (including all lung cancers) occurred in past/current smokers, versus one-third of patients without cancer. Multivariate analyses indicated over-all cancer risk was related primarily to male sex and older age at SLE diagnosis. In addition, smoking was associated with lung cancer. For breast cancer risk, age was positively and anti-malarial drugs were negatively associated. Anti-malarial drugs and higher disease activity were also negatively associated with non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) risk, whereas age and cyclophosphamide were positively associated. Disease activity was associated positively with hematologic and negatively with NMSC risk.

Conclusions: Smoking is a key modifiable risk factor, especially for lung cancer, in SLE. Immunosuppressive medications were not clearly associated with higher risk except for cyclophosphamide and NMSC. Antimalarials were negatively associated with breast cancer and NMSC risk. SLE activity was associated positively with hematologic cancer and negatively with NMSC. Since the absolute number of cancers was small, additional follow-up will help consolidate these findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acr.24425DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7892637PMC
August 2020

Genome-wide association study in a Korean population identifies six novel susceptibility loci for rheumatoid arthritis.

Ann Rheum Dis 2020 11 28;79(11):1438-1445. Epub 2020 Jul 28.

Hanyang University Institute for Rheumatology Research, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Objective: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have discovered over 100 RA loci, explaining patient-relevant RA pathogenesis but showing a large fraction of missing heritability. As a continuous effort, we conducted GWAS in a large Korean RA case-control population.

Methods: We newly generated genome-wide variant data in two independent Korean cohorts comprising 4068 RA cases and 36 487 controls, followed by a whole-genome imputation and a meta-analysis of the disease association results in the two cohorts. By integrating publicly available omics data with the GWAS results, a series of bioinformatic analyses were conducted to prioritise the RA-risk genes in RA loci and to dissect biological mechanisms underlying disease associations.

Results: We identified six new RA-risk loci (, , , , and ) with p<5×10 and consistent disease effect sizes in the two cohorts. A total of 122 genes were prioritised from the 6 novel and 13 replicated RA loci based on physical distance, regulatory variants and chromatin interaction. Bioinformatics analyses highlighted potentially RA-relevant tissues (including immune tissues, lung and small intestine) with tissue-specific expression of RA-associated genes and suggested the immune-related gene sets (such as CD40 pathway, IL-21-mediated pathway and citrullination) and the risk-allele sharing with other diseases.

Conclusion: This study identified six new RA-associated loci that contributed to better understanding of the genetic aetiology and biology in RA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-217663DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7569386PMC
November 2020

Accrual of Atherosclerotic Vascular Events in a Multicenter Inception Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Cohort.

Arthritis Rheumatol 2020 10 25;72(10):1734-1740. Epub 2020 Aug 25.

Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride, Scotland, UK.

Objective: In previous studies, atherosclerotic vascular events (AVEs) were shown to occur in ~10% of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We undertook this study to investigate the annual occurrence and potential risk factors for AVEs in a multinational, multiethnic inception cohort of patients with SLE.

Methods: A large 33-center cohort of SLE patients was followed up yearly between 1999 and 2017. AVEs were attributed to atherosclerosis based on SLE being inactive at the time of the AVE as well as typical atherosclerotic changes observed on imaging or pathology reports and/or evidence of atherosclerosis elsewhere. Analyses included descriptive statistics, rate of AVEs per 1,000 patient-years, and univariable and multivariable relative risk regression models.

Results: Of the 1,848 patients enrolled in the cohort, 1,710 had ≥1 follow-up visit after enrollment, for a total of 13,666 patient-years. Of these 1,710 patients, 3.6% had ≥1 AVEs attributed to atherosclerosis, for an event rate of 4.6 per 1,000 patient-years. In multivariable analyses, lower AVE rates were associated with antimalarial treatment (hazard ratio [HR] 0.54 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.32-0.91]), while higher AVE rates were associated with any prior vascular event (HR 4.00 [95% CI 1.55-10.30]) and a body mass index of >40 kg/m (HR 2.74 [95% CI 1.04-7.18]). A prior AVE increased the risk of subsequent AVEs (HR 5.42 [95% CI 3.17-9.27], P < 0.001).

Conclusion: The prevalence of AVEs and the rate of AVE accrual demonstrated in the present study is much lower than that seen in previously published data. This may be related to better control of both the disease activity and classic risk factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/art.41392DOI Listing
October 2020

A Comparison of 2019 EULAR/ACR SLE Classification Criteria with Two Sets of Earlier SLE Classification Criteria.

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2020 May 20. Epub 2020 May 20.

Department of Rheumatology, Kantonsspital, Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Objective: The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) 2012 SLE classification criteria and the revised American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 1997 criteria are list-based, counting each SLE manifestation equally. We derived a classification rule based on giving variable weights to the SLICC criteria, and compared its performance to the revised ACR 1997, unweighted SLICC 2012 and the newly reported European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR)/ACR 2019 criteria.

Methods: The physician-rated patient scenarios used to develop the SLICC 2012 classification criteria were re-employed to devise a new weighted classification rule using multiple linear regression. The performance of the rule was evaluated on an independent set of expert-diagnosed patient scenarios and compared to the performance of the previously reported classification rules.

Results: Weighted SLICC criteria and the EULAR/ACR 2019 criteria had less sensitivity but better specificity compared to the list-based revised ACR 1997 and SLICC 2012 classification criteria. There were no statistically significant differences between any pair of rules with respect to overall agreement with the physician diagnosis.

Conclusion: The two new weighted classification rules did not perform better than the existing list-based rules in terms of overall agreement on a dataset originally generated to assess the SLICC criteria. Given the added complexity of summing weights, researchers may prefer the unweighted SLICC criteria. However, the performance of a classification rule will always depend on the populations from which the cases and non-cases are derived, and whether the goal is to prioritize sensitivity or specificity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acr.24263DOI Listing
May 2020

Synergistic activation of NF-κB by TNFAIP3 (A20) reduction and UBE2L3 (UBCH7) augment that synergistically elevate lupus risk.

Arthritis Res Ther 2020 04 25;22(1):93. Epub 2020 Apr 25.

Department of Biological Sciences, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, 34141, Republic of Korea.

Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic disease. SLE susceptibility is affected by multiple genetic elements, environmental factors, and their interactions. We aimed in this study to statistically and functionally characterize a gene-gene interaction (epistasis) recently documented to affect SLE risk.

Methods: Two single-nucleotide polymorphisms, rs2230926 in TNFAIP3 (A20) gene and rs131654 in UBE2L3 (UBCH7) gene, were genotyped in all 3525 Korean participants, and their SLE risk association and epistasis were statistically analyzed by calculating odds ratio (OR), 95% confidence interval (CI), and P values in genotype comparisons between 1318 SLE patients and 2207 healthy controls. Furthermore, their effects on gene functions were assessed by comparatively examining separate and combined effects of TNFAIP3 and UBE2L3 knockdowns on NF-κB transcription factor activity in human cells.

Results: SLE susceptibility is associated with TNFAIP3 rs2230926 (OR = 1.9, 95% CI 1.6-2.4, P = 8.6 × 10) and UBE2L3 rs131654 (OR = 1.2, 95% CI 1.1-1.4, P = 1.1 × 10) in a Korean population of this study. Their risk-associated alleles synergistically elevate SLE susceptibility in both multivariate logistic regression analysis (OR = 1.6, P = 0.0028) and genotype-stratified analysis (OR = 2.4), confirming the synergistic TNFAIP3-UBE2L3 interaction in SLE risk. Additionally, the SLE-susceptible alleles confer decreased TNFAIP3 expression (P = 1.1 × 10, n = 610) and increased UBE2L3 expression (P = 9.5 × 10, n = 475), respectively, in B cell analysis of the International HapMap Project individuals with adjustment for ethnicity. Furthermore, when compared with TNFAIP3 non-knockdown and UBE2L3 knockdown in human HeLa cells, TNFAIP3 knockdown and UBE2L3 non-knockdown synergistically increase three cytokines, CCL2, CXCL8 (IL8), and IL6, all regulated by NF-κB in the human TNFR signaling pathway.

Conclusions: A synergistic interaction between TNFAIP3 and UBE2L3 genes is observed in SLE risk, as being evident in comparison of genotype distributions between SLE patients and controls. Additionally, the synergistic gene-gene interaction is functionally validated, as TNFAIP3 reduction and UBE2L3 augment exert synergism in activation of NF-κB and subsequent induction of inflammatory cytokines. Accordingly, SLE inflammation and risk could be synergistically alleviated by TNFAIP3 upregulation and UBE2L3 downregulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13075-020-02181-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7183688PMC
April 2020

Association of HLA-G polymorphisms with systemic lupus erythematosus and correlation between soluble HLA‑G levels and the disease: a meta-analysis.

Z Rheumatol 2021 Feb;80(1):96-102

Department of Rheumatology, Korea University Anam Hospital, Korea University College of Medicine, 73, Goryeodae-ro, Seongbuk-gu, 02841, Seoul, Korea (Republic of).

Objective: To investigate the association between HLA‑G polymorphisms and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility as well as the relationship between circulating soluble HLA‑G (sHLA‑G) levels and SLE.

Methods: A meta-analysis was performed to investigate the relationships between HLA‑G 14-bp insertion (I)/deletion (D), +3142 G/C, +3035 T/C, and +3003 C/T polymorphisms and SLE as well as the relationship between sHLA‑G serum/plasma levels in SLE patients and controls.

Results: Eleven publications fulfilled our inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis under the dominant model showed an association in the overall group between the II+ID genotype of HLA‑G 14-bp I/D polymorphism and SLE (OR = 1.213, 95%CI = 1.077-1.365, P = 0.001). Ethnicity-specific meta-analysis showed an association between II+ID and SLE in Asians but not in South American and European populations. No correlation was observed using the allele contrast between HLA‑G +3142 G/C polymorphisms and SLE. Contrastingly, +3035 T/C and +3003 C/T meta-analysis showed a significant allelic association between SLE and HLA‑G polymorphisms (OR = 1.378, 95%CI = 1.109-1.713, P = 0.004; OR = 1.834, 95%CI = 1.112-3.022, P = 0.017; respectively). sHLA‑G levels were significantly higher in the SLE group than in the controls (SMD = 0.637, 95%CI = 0.382-0.892, P < 0.001).

Conclusion: We showed association of HLA‑G 14-bp I/D, +3035 T/C, and +3003 C/T polymorphisms with SLE susceptibility and significantly higher circulating sHLA‑G levels in SLE patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00393-020-00783-6DOI Listing
February 2021

Effect of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Xenogeneic T and B Cells Isolated from Lupus-Prone MRL Mice.

Stem Cells Int 2020 5;2020:5617192. Epub 2020 Mar 5.

College of Pharmacy, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Chungbuk 28160, Republic of Korea.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease, which is characterized by hyperactivation of T and B cells. Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) ameliorate the progression of SLE in preclinical studies using lupus-prone MRL mice. However, whether hMSCs inhibit the functions of xenogeneic mouse T and B cells is not clear. To address this issue, we examined the effects of hMSCs on T and B cells isolated from MRL mice. Naïve hMSCs inhibited the functions of T cells but not B cells. hMSCs preconditioned with IFN- (i) inhibited the proliferation of and IgM production by B cells, (ii) attracted B cells for cell-cell interactions in a CXCL10-dependent manner, and (iii) inhibited B cells by producing indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase. In summary, our data demonstrate that hMSCs exert therapeutic activity in mice in three steps: first, naïve hMSCs inhibit the functions of T cells, hMSCs are then activated by IFN-, and finally, they inhibit B cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2020/5617192DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7077055PMC
March 2020

Neuropsychiatric events in systemic lupus erythematosus: a longitudinal analysis of outcomes in an international inception cohort using a multistate model approach.

Ann Rheum Dis 2020 03 8;79(3):356-362. Epub 2020 Jan 8.

Copenhagen Lupus and Vasculitis Clinic, 4242, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Objectives: Using a reversible multistate model, we prospectively examined neuropsychiatric (NP) events for attribution, outcome and association with health-related quality of life (HRQoL), in an international, inception cohort of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.

Methods: Annual assessments for 19 NP events attributed to SLE and non-SLE causes, physician determination of outcome and patient HRQoL (short-form (SF)-36 scores) were measured. Time-to-event analysis and multistate modelling examined the onset, recurrence and transition between NP states.

Results: NP events occurred in 955/1827 (52.3%) patients and 592/1910 (31.0%) unique events were attributed to SLE. In the first 2 years of follow-up the relative risk (95% CI) for SLE NP events was 6.16 (4.96, 7.66) and non-SLE events was 4.66 (4.01, 5.43) compared with thereafter. Patients without SLE NP events at initial assessment had a 74% probability of being event free at 10 years. For non-SLE NP events the estimate was 48%. The majority of NP events resolved over 10 years but mortality was higher in patients with NP events attributed to SLE (16%) versus patients with no NPSLE events (6%) while the rate was comparable in patients with non-SLE NP events (7%) compared with patients with no non-SLE events (6%). Patients with NP events had lower SF-36 summary scores compared with those without NP events and resolved NP states (p<0.001).

Conclusions: NP events occur most frequently around the diagnosis of SLE. Although the majority of events resolve they are associated with reduced HRQoL and excess mortality. Multistate modelling is well suited for the assessment of NP events in SLE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-216150DOI Listing
March 2020

An increased disease burden of autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases in Korea.

Semin Arthritis Rheum 2020 06 15;50(3):526-533. Epub 2019 Nov 15.

Department of Rheumatology, Hanyang University Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, 222, Wangsimni-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 04763, South Korea. Electronic address:

Objectives: To estimate the prevalence, medical utilization, and recent changes in the economic burden of autoimmune rheumatic diseases (AIRDs) in Korea.

Methods: Using a nationwide claims database that includes all medical claims made by approximately 50 million Korean residents, the prevalences of seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and others between 2012 and 2016 were calculated. Changes in medical utilization and the direct medical costs of each AIRD from 2012 to 2016 were also evaluated.

Results: Based on the data for 2016, seropositive RA was the most common AIRD in Korea with 96,330 cases (188.5/100,000 population), followed by AS (30,006, 58.7/100,000 population), SLE (19,441, 38.0/100,000 population), Behçet's disease (BD, 14,943, 29.2/100,000 population), primary Sjögren syndrome (pSS, 12,018, 23.5/100,000 population), and systemic sclerosis (SSc, 3606, 7.1/100,000 population). In terms of medical utilization, patients with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis visited outpatient clinics the most frequently (9.8 times/year/patient), while hospitalization was most frequent in microscopic polyangiitis patients (1.0 time/year/patient). Total medical costs for all AIRDs increased from $154,348,011 in 2012 to $262,481,974 in 2016. The annual medical cost per patient in 2016 was the highest in microscopic polyangiitis ($6223/year), followed by psoriatic arthritis ($3,362/year), and granulomatosis with polyangiitis ($2823/year).

Conclusions: In Korea, the most prevalent AIRD is seropositive RA, followed by AS, SLE, BD, pSS, and SSc. The economic burden of AIRDs has risen substantially in the last 5 years due not only to an increase in their prevalence but also to an increase in medical costs per patient.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.semarthrit.2019.11.007DOI Listing
June 2020

Trial of Anifrolumab in Active Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

N Engl J Med 2020 01 18;382(3):211-221. Epub 2019 Dec 18.

From the Centre for Inflammatory Disease, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia (E.F.M.); the Division of Rheumatology, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra-Northwell, Great Neck (R.F.), and the Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York (A.D.A.) - both in New York; the First Department of Internal Medicine and Graduate School of Medical Science, University of Occupational and Environmental Health Japan, Kitakyushu (Y.T.); the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, Faculty of Biology, Medicine, and Health, University of Manchester and National Institute for Health Research Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, United Kingdom (I.N.B.); the Rheumatology Department, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Bordeaux-Groupe Hospitalier Pellegrin, and Unité Mixte de Recherche-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 5164, Bordeaux University, Bordeaux, France (C.R.); the Department of Rheumatology, Hanyang University Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Seoul, South Korea (S.-C.B.); AstraZeneca, Gaithersburg, MD (P.Z.B., L.P., R.T.); and AstraZeneca, Gothenburg, Sweden (A.B.).

Background: Anifrolumab, a human monoclonal antibody to type I interferon receptor subunit 1 investigated for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), did not have a significant effect on the primary end point in a previous phase 3 trial. The current phase 3 trial used a secondary end point from that trial as the primary end point.

Methods: We randomly assigned patients in a 1:1 ratio to receive intravenous anifrolumab (300 mg) or placebo every 4 weeks for 48 weeks. The primary end point of this trial was a response at week 52 defined with the use of the British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG)-based Composite Lupus Assessment (BICLA). A BICLA response requires reduction in any moderate-to-severe baseline disease activity and no worsening in any of nine organ systems in the BILAG index, no worsening on the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index, no increase of 0.3 points or more in the score on the Physician Global Assessment of disease activity (on a scale from 0 [no disease activity] to 3 [severe disease]), no discontinuation of the trial intervention, and no use of medications restricted by the protocol. Secondary end points included a BICLA response in patients with a high interferon gene signature at baseline; reductions in the glucocorticoid dose, in the severity of skin disease, and in counts of swollen and tender joints; and the annualized flare rate.

Results: A total of 362 patients received the randomized intervention: 180 received anifrolumab and 182 received placebo. The percentage of patients who had a BICLA response was 47.8% in the anifrolumab group and 31.5% in the placebo group (difference, 16.3 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, 6.3 to 26.3; P = 0.001). Among patients with a high interferon gene signature, the percentage with a response was 48.0% in the anifrolumab group and 30.7% in the placebo group; among patients with a low interferon gene signature, the percentage was 46.7% and 35.5%, respectively. Secondary end points with respect to the glucocorticoid dose and the severity of skin disease, but not counts of swollen and tender joints and the annualized flare rate, also showed a significant benefit with anifrolumab. Herpes zoster and bronchitis occurred in 7.2% and 12.2% of the patients, respectively, who received anifrolumab. There was one death from pneumonia in the anifrolumab group.

Conclusions: Monthly administration of anifrolumab resulted in a higher percentage of patients with a response (as defined by a composite end point) at week 52 than did placebo, in contrast to the findings of a similar phase 3 trial involving patients with SLE that had a different primary end point. The frequency of herpes zoster was higher with anifrolumab than with placebo. (Funded by AstraZeneca; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02446899.).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1912196DOI Listing
January 2020

Identifying damage clusters in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

Int J Rheum Dis 2020 Jan 24;23(1):84-91. Epub 2019 Nov 24.

Department of Rheumatology, Hanyang University Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Seoul, Korea.

Aim: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) causes irreversible damage to organ systems. Recently, evidence has been obtained for subphenotypes of SLE. This study aimed to identify damage clusters and compare the associated clinical manifestations, SLE disease activity, mortality, and genetic risk scores (GRS).

Methods: The study was conducted on the Hanyang BAE lupus cohort. Patients with disease duration <5 years were excluded to minimize confounding effects of disease duration. They were grouped into 3 clusters based on the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Damage Index using k-means cluster analysis.

Results: Among the 1130 analyzed patients, musculoskeletal damage was most prevalent (20.2%), followed by ocular (11.4%), renal (10.5%), and neuropsychiatric damage (10.2%). Three significantly different damage clusters were identified. Patients in cluster 1 (n = 824) showed the least damage. Cluster 2 (n = 195) was characterized by frequent renal (55.4%) and ocular (58.0%) damage, and cluster 3 (n = 111) was dominated by neuropsychiatric (100%) and musculoskeletal damage (35.1%). Cluster 2 had the highest adjusted mean AMS (adjusted mean SLE Disease Activity Index score; mean ± SD: 5.4 ± 2.9), while cluster 3 had the highest mortality (14.4%). Weighted GRS did not differ significantly between the clusters.

Conclusion: Patients in prevalent renal and ocular damage cluster had the highest AMS scores, while the cluster with frequent neuropsychiatric damage had the highest mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1756-185X.13745DOI Listing
January 2020