Stamatis-Nick C. Liossis MD PhD and Georgia M. Konstantopoulou MD
Lazaros I. Sakkas MD DM PhD (London) FRCP (London) and Dimitrios P Bogdanos MD PhD (London)
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is characterized by extensive collagen deposition, microvasculopathy and autoantibodies. All three features can be promoted by activation of T cells and B cells. T cells are of Th2 type producing profibrotic cytokines IL-4 and IL-13 and inducing dendritic cell maturation that promotes Th2 response. B cells are overactivated and promote fibrosis by autoantibodies that activate fibroblasts or inhibit the degradation of extracellular matrix. They also promote fibrosis by cell-cell contact with fibroblasts or dendritic cells. B cells, through autoantibodies, may promote vasoconstriction and obliterative vasculopathy. They may also sustain activation of T cells by functioning as antigen-presenting cells. An immunoregulatory subset of B cells, namely IL-10-producing Bregs, is decreased in SSc. Finally, B cells have a critical role in animal models of SSc. All this evidence suggests an important role for B cells in the pathogenesis of SSc and makes B cells a potential target for therapeutic intervention in this disease.
Efstathia K. Kapsogeorgou PhD and Athanasios G. Tzioufas MD
Autoimmune diseases constitute a diverse group of disorders characterized by cellular and humoral responses against self. The humoral autoimmune responses are directed against various cellular and extracellular components. These responses are highly specific for each autoimmune disease and result in the production of autoantibodies that characterize certain disease entities, representing a valuable tool for the diagnosis of autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, certain autoantibodies are helpful in the prognosis of disease development, progression and severity, as well as in the classification of patients with distinct disease subtypes. Today, the value of autoantibodies in the follow-up of patients is limited, but preliminary data suggest that they may be useful in predicting response to treatment.
Emmanouil Papadakis, Anastasia Banti and Anna Kioumi
Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is an autoimmune systemic disease characterized by vascular thrombosis (arterial or venous) and/or pregnancy complications associated with the occurrence of autoantibodies, specifically lupus anticoagulant, anticardiolipin antibodies, and/or anti-β2 glycoprotein-I antibodies confirmed at least twice over a 12 week period according to the 2006 Sydney criteria. Antiphospholipid antibodies are encountered in the general population with a reported prevalence of 1% to 5% However, APS is far more infrequent with a prevalence of 40–50/100,000 persons and an incidence of about 5 new patients/100,000 persons. APS can be diagnosed in patients with no apparent clinical or laboratory pathology (primary APS) or it may be related to numerous other conditions, autoimmune diseases (usually systemic lupus erythematosus), malignancies, infections and drugs (secondary APS). Women are at risk for APS since the disease is encountered in both the primary and the secondary state in females more often than in men. In addition, women in their reproductive years can develop APS (either classical or obstetric), and special attention is warranted in pregnant women with a diagnosis of APS. The benefits of hormonal therapy in the form of contraception or hormone replacement treatment should be carefully weighed against the increased risk for vascular complications in women with APS.
Anat Aharon PhD and Benjamin Brenner MD
Doron Rimar MD, Itzhak Rosner MD, Gleb Slobodin MD, Michael Rozenbaum MD, Lisa Kaly MD, Nina Boulman MD and Zahava Vadasz MD
Carolina Aulestia MD, Alberto De Zubiría MD, Carlos Granados MD, Johanna Suárez MD and Ricard Cervera MD
Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with multiorgan involvement and wide variability in presentation and course. Although it can appear at any age, women of childbearing age are primarily affected. This has led to the proposal of a hormonal role in the development of SLE. Among the main hormones shown to have immunomodulatory effects are estradiol, progesterone and prolactin.
Objectives: To report the levels of estradiol and prolactin in SLE patients and establish the relationship between these levels and disease activity, and to determine whether the phases of the menstrual cycle influence the activity of SLE and its relationship to hormone levels.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we examined 60 women with SLE. We measured disease activity using SLEDAI and BILAG. We obtained peripheral blood samples to determine the levels of estradiol, progesterone, and prolactin.
Results: Patients’ age ranged between 16 and 65 years and the mean disease duration was 5.5 years (0–20). SLE was active (SLEDAI > 6) in 13 patients and inactive in 47. Thirty patients were in a pre-ovulatory menstrual cycle phase, 13 in a post-ovulatory cycle, and 17 were menopausal. We found a significant association between C4 levels and disease activity (P = 0.01) and between estradiol levels and disease activity in the kidney (P = 0.04). We did not find hyperprolactinemia in any patient.
Conclusions: In this population, we found an association between estradiol levels and organ-specific activity in the kidney. One may speculate as to whether our population might benefit from the implementation of anti-estrogen therapy for control of disease activity, particularly in the kidney.
Abdulla Watad MD, Howard Amital MD MHA, Gali Aljadeff BA, Gisele Zandman-Goddard MD, Hedi Orbach MD and Yehuda Shoenfeld MD FRCP MaCR
Dimosthenis Chochlakis MD, Elpis Mantadakis MD, Stavros Thomaidis MD, Yannis Tselenti MD, Athanassios Chatzimichael MD and Anna Psaroulaki MD
Hussein Mahagna MD, Shana G. Neumann MD, Ginette Schiby MD, Victor Belsky MD and Howard Amital MD MHA