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עמוד בית
Fri, 14.06.24

January 2008

The Mosaic of Autoimmunity
Y. Shoenfeld, B. Gilburd, M. Abu-Shakra, H. Amital, O. Barzilai, Y. Berkun, M. Blank, G. Zandman-Goddard, U. Katz, I. Krause, P. Langevitz, Y. Levy, H. Orbach, V. Pordeus, M. Ram, Y. Sherer, E. Toubi and Y. Tomer
Y. Shoenfeld, G. Zandman-Goddard, L. Stojanovich, M. Cutolo, H. Amital, Y. Levy, M. Abu-Shakra, O. Barzilai, Y. Berkun, M. Blank, J.F. de Carvalho, A. Doria, B. Gilburd, U. Katz, I. Krause, P. Langevitz, H. Orbach, V. Pordeus, M. Ram, E. Toubi and Y. Sherer
Y. Shoenfeld, M. Blank, M. Abu-Shakra, H. Amital, O. Barzilai, Y. Berkun, N. Bizzaro, B. Gilburd, G. Zandman-Goddard, U. Katz, I. Krause, P. Langevitz, I.R. Mackay, H. Orbach, M. Ram, Y. Sherer, E. Toubi and M.E. Gershwin
L. Weiss, A.M. Botero-Anug, C. Hand, S. Slavin and D. Naor

Background: Standard CD44 and its alternatively spliced variants were found to be associated with the metastatic potential of tumor cells and with cell migration of autoimmune inflammatory cells, including cells involved in experimental insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Objectives: To investigate whether induction of anti-CD44 immune reactivity, through cDNA vaccination, could attenuate IDDM[1] in a transfer model of NOD mice.

Methods: Our vaccination technique involved the insertion of CD44s[2] or CD44v[3] cDNA into a silicone tube filled with a 2.5 cm long segment of hydroxylated-polyvinyl acetate wound dressing sponge (forming a virtual lymph node) which was implanted under the skin of male NOD recipients reconstituted with diabetogenic spleen cells of female NOD donors. The VLN[4] were implanted 20 days before and 3 days after cell transfer.

Results: In contrast to control groups of recipient mice, recipients vaccinated with VLN loaded with CD44v or CD44s cDNAs developed resistance to IDDM almost to the same extent. Our results suggest that the gene vaccination effect was mediated by anti-CD44 antibody rather than by cellular immunity. Histopathological examinations revealed a significant protection of pancreatic islets in the DNA-vaccinated recipients, whereas the islets of control recipients of diabetogenic cells were almost totally destroyed.

Conclusions: These findings may open new opportunities for IDDM therapy in the future.

[1] IDDM = insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

[2] CD44s = standard CD44

[3] CD44v = CD44 variants

[4] VLN = virtual lymph node 

R.E. Voll, V. Urbonaviciute, M. Herrmann and J.R. Kalden

High mobility group box 1 is a nuclear protein participating in chromatin architecture and transcriptional regulation. When released from cells, HMGB1[1] can also act as a pro-inflammatory mediator or alarmin. Upon stimulation with lipopolysaccharides or tumor necrosis factor-alpha, HMGB1 is secreted from certain cells such as monocytes/macrophages and fosters inflammatory responses. In addition, HMGB1 is passively released from necrotic cells and mediates inflammation and immune activation. In contrast, during apoptotic cell death, nuclear HMGB1 gets tightly attached to hypo-acetylated chromatin and is not released into the extracellular milieu, thereby preventing an inflammatory response. There is accumulating evidence that extracellular HMGB1 contributes to the pathogenesis of many inflammatory diseases, including autoimmune diseases. Increased concentrations of HMGB1 have been detected in the synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In animal models of RA[2], HMGB1 appears to be crucially involved in the pathogenesis of arthritis, since neutralization of HMGB1 significantly ameliorates the disease. Also, in the serum and plasma of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus we detected substantial amounts of HMGB1, which may contribute to the disease process. However, investigations of blood concentrations of HMGB1 and its relevance in human diseases are hindered by the lack of reliable routine test systems.

[1] HMGB1 = high mobility group box 1 protein

[2] RA = rheumatoid arthritis

E. Zifman and H. Amitai

Medical screening is not a tangible existent tool in autoimmune disorders as it is in other illnesses. Numerous attempts are made to identify individuals destined to develop an autoimmune disease, including analysis of the genetic background, which along with the immunological profile, may assist in identifying those individuals. If these efforts turn out to be successful they may lead to the possibility of proactive measures that might prevent the emergence of such disorders. This review will summarize the attempts made to pursue autoantibodies specific for the central nervous system as potential predictors of autoimmune neurological disorders.

A. Kapitany, Z. Szabo, G. Lakos, N. Aleksza, A. Vegvari. L. Soos, Z. Karanyi, S. Sipka, G. Szgedi and Z. Szekanecz

Background: The presence of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide autoantibody is highly specific for rheumatoid arthritis. Certain HLA-DR4 (HLA-DRB1*04) alleles, also known as the "shared epitope," are associated with increased susceptibility to RA[1]. In addition, these alleles may also have relevance for disease outcome. Anti-CCP[2] antibody positivity has been associated with the presence of HLA-DR4 alleles in patients with RA. However, there is little information available regarding any relationship between quantitative anti-CCP production (serum anti-CCP concentrations) and the shared epitope.

Objectives: To determine the association between anti-CCP antibody production and various HLA-DRB1 alleles.

Methods: Serum anti-CCP, rheumatoid factor and C-reactive protein levels were assessed in 53 RA patients. All these patients underwent HLA-DRB1 genotyping.

Results: Of the 53 patients 33 (62%) were positive for anti-CCP antibody. We found significant correlations between anti-CCP and RF[3] positivity (chi-square = 6.717, P < 0.01), as well as between anti-CCP and HLA-DRB1*04 positivity (chi-square = 5.828, P < 0.01). There was no correlation between RF positivity and serum levels, CRP[4] serum levels and HLA-DRB1*04 positivity. When quantitatively comparing serum anti-CCP levels with shared epitope positivity, patients carrying one or two copies of HLA-DRB1*04 alleles had significantly higher anti-CCP concentrations (530.0 ± 182.6 U/ml) compared to DRB1*04-negative patients (56.8 ± 27.4 U/ml) (P < 0.01). There was no difference in serum anti-CCP antibody concentrations between patients carrying only one HLA-DRB1*01 allele but no HLA-DRB1*04 allele (12.0 ± 8.6 U/ml) in comparison to SE[5]-negative patients (76.8 ± 56.2 U/ml). Regarding non-SE HLA-DRB1 genotypes, all 6 patients (100%) carrying DRB1*15 alleles and 6 of 7 (85%) patients carrying DRB1*13 were anti-CCP positive. In addition, patients with HLA-DRB1*13 (282.5 ± 23.8 U/ml) and DRB1*15 (398.7 ± 76.2 U/ml) produced significantly more anti-CCP than did any other non-SE HLA-DRB1 subtypes (P < 0.01).

Conclusions: There is significant association between anti-CCP and RF, as well as between anti-CCP and SE positivity in RA. In addition, the presence of one or two copies of HLA-DRB1*04 alleles has been associated with higher serum anti-CCP antibody levels. Thus, patients carrying HLA-DRB1*04 alleles exhibited an overall tenfold increase in serum anti-CCP antibody levels in comparison to HLA-DRB1*04-negative subjects. Increased anti-CCP production may also be associated with other non-SE HLA-DRB1 genotypes, such as DRB1*13 or DRB1*15. In reports by other investigators, both anti-CCP concentrations

[1] RA = rheumatoid arthritis

[2] anti-CCP = anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide

[3] RF = rheumatoid factor

[4] CRP = C-reactive protein

[5] SE = shared epitope

M. Blank and Y. Shoenfeld

Idiotypic analyses of anti-DNA autoantibodies were widely reported a decade ago. More than 100 studies were conducted on one of the main analyzed idiotypes, the 16/6 Id of the anti-ssDNA monoclonal antibody. In this review we summarize current knowledge on the characteristics of the 16/6 Id[1], its link to infection and its target epitopes on other molecules known so far. This includes the modulation of T and B cell responses and gene expression by the 16/6 mAb[2] in vitro and in vivo. We focus on the ability and mechanisms by which this idiotype induces experimental lupus in naïve mice, manifested by autoantibody spread, kidney and brain involvement, and leukopenia associated with enhanced sedimentation rate. We also discuss various therapeutic modalities to treat 16/6 induced lupus in mice.



[1] Id = idiotype

[2] mAb = monoclonal antibody

M. Abu-Shakra, S. Codish, L. Zeller, T. Wolak and S. Sukenik
Atherosclerotic disease is common in systemic lupus erythematosus and is the result of multiple pathogenic mechanisms that include traditional risk factors as well as SLE[1]-related factors. Endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness contribute significantly to the atherogenic process. Dobutamine stress echocardiogram has not been shown to detect subclinical coronary artery disease; however the high percentage of left ventricular outflow gradient requires further evaluation and follows-up studies.

[1] SLE = systemic lupus erythematosus

M. Szyper-Kravitz, A. Altman, J.F. de Carvalho, F. Bellisai, M. Galeazzi, Y. Eshet and Y. Shoenfeld

The antiphospholipid syndrome is characterized by recurrent fetal loss, venous and/or arterial thrombosis, and thrombocytopenia associated with elevated titers of lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies. Although thrombosis is the characteristic vascular involvement in APS[1], the development of vascular aneurysms in patients with APS has been reported. We describe four patients with established APS, who developed abdominal aortic aneurysm, and review the literature on previous published cases of arterial aneurysms developing in patients with APS. In addition, we discuss the possible pathophysiological association between APS and the development of this vascular abnormality.

[1] APS = antiphospholipid syndrome

S. Bar-Sela and Y. Shoenfeld
Two patients working for several years in the operation and maintenance of photocopy machines developed an autoimmune disease. In both, early manifestations were thromboembolic phenomena associated with anticardiolipin antibodies. Joint and kidney involvement emerged later, with the appearance of other autoantibodies. These two patients were occupationally exposed to ultraviolet irradiation, ozone emission, and possibly some oxides of heavy metals. To our knowledge this is the first report of occupational autoimmune disease in photocopy machine workers, and the first description of antiphospholipid syndrome as an occupational disease. The possible cause-effect inter-relationship between their occupational exposure and autoimmune disease is discussed.
Y. Sherer, S. Kuechler, J. Jose Scali, J. Rovensky, Y. Levy, G. Zandman-Goddard and Y. Shoenfeld

Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease with diverse clinical manifestations that cannot always be regulated by steroids and immunosuppressive therapy. Intravenous immunoglobulin is an optional immunomodulatory agent for the treatment of SLE[1], but the appropriate indications for its use, duration of therapy and recommended dosage are yet to be established. In SLE patients, most publications report the utilization of a high dose (2 g/kg body weight) protocol.

Objectives: To investigate whether lower doses of IVIg are beneficial for SLE patients.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 62 patients who received low dose IVIg[2] (approximately 0.5 g/kg body weight).

Results: The treatment was associated with clinical improvement in many specific disease manifestations, along with a continuous decrease in SLEDAI scores (SLE Disease Activity Index). However, thrombocytopenia, alopecia and vasculitis did not improve following IVIg therapy.

Conclusions: Low dose IVIg is a possible therapeutic option in SLE and is associated with lower cost than the high dose regimen and possibly fewer adverse effects.

[1] SLE = systemic lupus erythematosus

[2] IVIg = intravenous immunoglobulin

S. Fuchs, T. Feferman, R. Meidler, T. Brenner, O. Laub and M.C. Souroujon

Backgraound: Intravenous immunoglobulin administration has been beneficially used for the treatment of a variety of autoimmune diseases including myasthenia gravis, although its mode of action and active components have not yet been fully identified.

Objectives: To isolate from IVIg[1] a disease-specific fraction involved in the therapeutic activity in myasthenia and to identify its properties and function.

Results: IVIg administration in experimental autoimmune MG[2] results in suppression of disease that is accompanied by decreased Th1 cell and B cell proliferation. Chromatography of IVIg on columns of IgG from rats with EAMG[3] or from MG patients resulted in depletion of the suppressive activity that IVIg has on rat EAMG. Moreover, the minute amounts of IgG fractions eluted from the EAMG or MG-specific columns retained the immunosuppressive activity of IVIg.

Conclusions: Our study supports the notion that the therapeutic effect of IVIg is mediated by a minor disease-specific immunoglobulin fraction that is present in IVIg and is essential for its therapeutic activity.

[1] IVIg = inravenous immunoglobulin

[2] MG = myasthenia gravis

[3] EAMG = experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis 

V. Pordeus, O. Barzilai, Y. Sherer, R.R. Luiz, M. Blank, N. Bizzaro, D. Villalta, J-M. Anaya and Y. Shoenfeld

Background: Infectious agents are important in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease since they are a major part of the environmental trigger of autoimmunity. A negative relationship between latitude and infectious disease species richness has been suggested.

Objectives: To examine whether their prevalence differs in two latitudinally different populations.

Methods: The prevalence of infections with Toxoplasma gondii, rubella virus, cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus and Treponema pallidum was compared between subjects from Italy and Colombia.

Results: We found high titers of antibodies against four of five microorganisms tested, Toxoplasma gondii (50.8%), rubella virus (German measles) (75%), cytomegalovirus (86.3%), Epstein-Barr virus (83.3%) and Treponema pallidum (6.3%) in completely healthy individuals from a tropical country (Colombia) and a European country (Italy). Differences between two groups of volunteers were noted regarding two infectious agents. The prevalence of immunoglobulin G anti-rubella antibodies was significantly higher among Italian subjects (85% vs. 67.9%, P = 0.002), whereas antibodies against CMV[1] were less prevalent among Italian as compared to Colombian subjects (77% vs. 92.9%, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: These differences might also result in a different tendency towards development of autoimmune diseases associated with these infectious agents in different populations.

[1] CMV = cytomegalovirus

G. Markel, M. Imazio, A. Brucato and Y. Adler

The most troublesome complication of acute pericarditis is recurrent episodes of pericardial inflammation, which occur in 15–32% of cases. It was recently found that viral infection has a major role, but in many cases the cause is unknown. The optimal method for prevention has not been fully established; accepted modalities include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, immunosuppressive agents, and pericardiectomy. Based on the proven efficacy of colchicine in familial Mediterranean fever, several small and large-scale international clinical trials have shown the beneficial effect of colchicine therapy in preventing recurrent pericarditis. Indeed, colchicines-treated patients consistently display significantly fewer recurrences, longer symptom-free periods, and even when attacks occur they are weaker and shorter in nature. It was also found that pretreatment with corticosteroids substantially attenuates the efficacy of colchicine, as evidenced by significantly more recurrences and longer therapy periods. Colchicine is a safe and effective modality for the treatment and prevention of recurrent pericarditis, especially as an adjunct to other modalities, since it provides a sustained benefit superior to all current modalities. The safety profile seems superior to other drugs such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs.

E. Toubi

Among the several mechanisms that play a role in maintaining peripheral self-tolerance is the existence of a unique CD4+CD25+ population of naturally occurring regulatory T cells, which actively prevent both the activation and the effector function of autoreactive T cells that have escaped different mechanisms of tolerance. Many studies have shown the benefit of targeting this cell population by restoring self-tolerance. Therapies that could possibly increase the suppressive ability of T regulatory cells were proven to improve the course of autoimmune diseases.

N. Bassi, D. Amital, H. Amital, A. Doria and Y. Shoenfeld

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a heterogeneous disorder with unknown pathogenesis and etiology, characterized by disabling fatigue, difficulty in concentration and memory, and concomitant skeletal and muscular pain. Several mechanisms have been suggested to play a role in CFS[1], such as excessive oxidative stress following exertion, immune imbalance characterized by decreased natural killer cell and macrophage activity, immunoglobulin G subclass deficiencies (IgG-1[2], IgG-3) and decreased serum concentrations of complement component. Autoantibodies were also suggested as a possible factor in the pathogenesis of CFS. Recent studies indicate that anti-serotonin, anti-microtubule-associated protein 2 and anti-muscarinic cholinergic receptor 1 may play a role in the pathogenesis of CFS. It has been demonstrated that impairment in vasoactive neuropeptide metabolism may explain the CFS symptoms

[1] CFS = chronic fatigue syndrome

[2] IgG = immunoglobulin G

G. Zandman-Goddard and Y. Shoenfeld

Controlling iron/oxygen chemistry in biology depends on multiple genes, regulatory messenger RNA structures, signaling pathways and protein catalysts. Ferritin synthesis is regulated by cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1α) at various levels (transcriptional, post-transcriptional, translational) during development, cellular differentiation, proliferation and inflammation. The cellular response by cytokines to infection stimulates the expression of ferritin genes. The immunological actions of ferritin include binding to T lymphocytes, suppression of the delayed-type hypersensitivity, suppression of antibody production by B lymphocytes, and decreased phagocytosis of granulocytes. Thyroid hormone, insulin and insulin growth factor-1 are involved in the regulation of ferritin at the mRNA level. Ferritin and iron homeostasis are implicated in the pathogenesis of many disorders, including diseases involved in iron acquisition, transport and storage (primary hemochromatosis) as well as in atherosclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer disease, and restless leg syndrome. Mutations in the ferritin gene cause the hereditary hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome and neuroferritinopathy. Hyperferritinemia is associated with inflammation, infections and malignancies, and in systemic lupus erythematosus correlates with disease activity. Some evidence points to the importance of hyperferritinemia in dermatomyositis and multiple sclerosis, but further mechanistic investigations are warranted.

Y. Katz, M.R. Goldberg, G. Zadik-Mnuhin, M. Leshno and E. Heyman

Background: Immunoglobulin E-mediated allergy to cow’s milk protein represents a major problem for infants who are not breast fed. A search for substitute milks revealed a cross-allergenicity to milk derived from goat and sheep but not to milk from a mare. We noted that the cow, goat and sheep species are both artiodactyls and ruminants, defining them as kosher animals, in contrast to the mare.

Objectives: To determine whether patients with IgE[1]-mediated cow’s milk allergy are cross-sensitized to milk from other species such as the deer, ibex, buffalo, pig and camel.

Methods: Patients with a clinical history consistent with IgE-mediated cow's milk protein allergy were tested by skin prick test to validate the diagnosis. They were then evaluated by skin-prick test for cross-sensitization to milk-derived proteins from other species.

Results: All patients allergic to cow's milk tested positive by skin-prick test for cross-reactivity to deer, Ibex and buffalo (n=24, P = 0). In contrast, only 5 of the 24 patients (20.83%) tested positive to pig milk and only 2 of 8 (25%) to camel’s milk. Cross-sensitization to soy milk was noted in 4 of 23 patients (17.39%), although they all tolerated oral ingestion of soy-containing foods.

Conclusions: A significant cross-sensitization to milk proteins derived from kosher animals exists in patients allergic to cow's milk protein, but far less so compared to the milk proteins from non-kosher animals tested. Patients with proven IgE-mediated allergy to cow’s milk can utilize the above findings to predict suitable alternative sources of milk.

[1] Ig = immunogloublin

L. Guillevin and C. Pagnoux

Treatment of vasculitides has progressed markedly over the past few decades. Recent therapeutic strategies in severe and refractory anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies-associated vasculitides include immunomodulating methods (e.g., plasma exchanges), products (such as intravenous immunoglobulins) and, more recently, new agents called biotherapies. Some of them (e.g., anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha and anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies) have achieved promising results and are now often used to treat severe cases.

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