[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To evaluate bone status in children born from mothers followed for autoimmune diseases and treated during pregnancy with low molecular weight heparin (LMVH) and/or prednisone.
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 01/2014; 12:47. · 9.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This work aims to prospectively assess the long-term effects of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG Flebogamma®) in a small cohort of patients affected by primary or secondary antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), in addition to conventional therapy.
Three primary and four secondary APS patients (6 women and 1 man), aged between 40 and 62 years, were treated with IVIG in addition to conventional therapy with anticoagulants or antiplatelets, while six primary and one secondary APS patients (6 women and 1 man), aged between 31 and 61 years, continued their regular conventional therapy. One infusion of IVIG was administered at a dose of 0.4 g/kg/day every month to the first group of patients for two years. Patients were assessed at baseline, after 1 year and 2 years from the beginning of the study and were evaluated for the occurrence of any thromboembolic events and by laboratory measurement of antiphospholipides antibodies (aPL).
No venous or arterial thromboses occurred in patients treated with IVIG, whereas in the control group two patients presented cerebral ischaemic attacks and one patient reported a deep vein thrombosis during the follow-up. At the end of the study, in the group treated with IVIG, we observed a statistically significant decrease of anticardiolipin antibodies (IgG and IgM) and of IgM anti-β2-glycoprotein I antibodies.
Our results show the efficacy of IVIG in addition to conventional therapy, in primary and secondary APS patients, preventing the occurrence of thromboembolic events. However, further clinical studies on a larger group of patients are necessary to fully understand the mechanisms of action and the optimal doses of IVIG in APS.
Clinical and experimental rheumatology 08/2013; · 2.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective. To evaluate the association between serum complement levels (C3 and C4) and obstetric complications.Methods. Fifty-seven pregnancies in primary APS (PAPS) patients were compared with 49 pregnancies in patients with UCTD and SS. A group of 175 healthy pregnant women were studied to calculate a normality range for C3 and C4 during pregnancy. Such a range was applied to define hypocomplementaemia in PAPS and UCTD/SS.Results. Both groups of patients (PAPS and UCTD/SS) showed significantly lower levels of C3 and C4 in each trimester as compared with healthy women; conversely, no significant difference was found between PAPS and UCTD/SS. Comparing PAPS pregnancies with and without complications, no difference was found in the prevalence of low C3 or low C4.Conclusion. No association was found between hypocomplementaemia and obstetric complications in PAPS. However, both cases of pre-eclampsia were characterized by low C3 throughout pregnancy. There is evidence that the complement system is a contributor to the mechanisms of aPL-mediated damage, but its predictive role on the final pregnancy outcome does not seem to be of major impact.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess fetal and maternal outcomes in women with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Prospectively collected data on 99 women with SSc from 25 Italian centers were analyzed retrospectively. Women with SSc were observed during 109 pregnancies (from 2000 to 2011), and outcomes were compared to those in the general obstetric population (total of 3,939 deliveries). The maternal age at conception was a mean ± SD 31.8 ± 5.3 years, and the median disease duration at conception was 60 months (range 2-193 months).
SSc patients, compared to the general obstetric population, had a significantly increased frequency of preterm deliveries (25% versus 12%) and severe preterm deliveries (<34 weeks of gestation) (10% versus 5%), intrauterine growth restriction (6% versus 1%), and babies with very-low birth weight (5% versus 1%). Results of multivariable analysis showed that corticosteroid use was associated with preterm deliveries (odds ratio [OR] 3.63, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.12-11.78), whereas the use of folic acid (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.10-0.91) and presence of anti-Scl-70 antibodies (OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.08-0.85) were protective. The disease remained stable in most SSc patients, but there were 4 cases of progression of disease within 1 year from delivery, all in anti-Scl-70 antibody-positive women, 3 of whom had a disease duration of <3 years.
Women with SSc can have successful pregnancies, but they have a higher-than-normal risk of preterm delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, and babies with very-low birth weight. Progression of the disease during or after pregnancy is rare, but possible. High-risk multidisciplinary management should be standard for these patients, and pregnancy should be avoided in women with severe organ damage and postponed in women with SSc of recent onset, particularly if the patient is positive for anti-Scl-70 antibodies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A novel immunoenzymatic assay using viral citrullinated peptides derived from Epstein-Barr virus-encoded proteins (viral citrullinated peptide 2 (VCP2)) has been developed and evaluated by means of a multicentre collaborative study.
Three hundred nine sera from patients with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 36 with early arthritis, 12 with juvenile arthritis and 453 controls were tested for VCP2 and cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibodies.
The VCP2 assay showed 78.3% sensitivity and 97.1% specificity. VCP2 and CCP had a high concordance rate in patients with RA (88%) and controls (97%). However, 36 RA sera were positive in the CCP assay but negative on VCP2, and two RA sera reacted only on VCP2.
The new VCP2 assay is endowed with high sensitivity and specificity. VCP2-positive RA sera are mostly but not completely contained in the CCP-positive population. Studies are in progress to establish whether the VCP2 assay can detect clinically distinct subsets of patients with RA.
Journal of clinical pathology 09/2011; 64(12):1139-41. · 2.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To test whether an association between HCV genotype, HLA class II alleles distribution and extra-hepatic manifestations (EHM ) can be demonstrated in a group of Italian patients with chronic HCV infection .
Sixty patients affected by HCV infection with EHM were consecutively enrolled. 163 HCV patients without EHM were tested as controls for the prevalence of HCV genotypes, while we referred to literature as to the controls for HLA distribution. HCV-RNA was quantified by a RT-PCR. HLA class II alleles typing was performed using a standard microlymphocytotoxicity assay. We used chi-square or Fisher test (p<0.05 significant). Odds Ratio (OR) was performed by 2X2 contingency table.
HCV 2c genotype was found in 63.46% of patients compared to 19.63% of controls (p<0.0001; OR=7.11). Furthermore, it correlated with carpal tunnel syndrome (p=0.03; OR=4.5) and autoimmune thyroiditis (p=0.02; OR=9.2). On the contrary, 1b genotype protected from EHM in toto (p=0.0004; OR=0.21) and particularly from carpal tunnel syndrome (p=0.0014; OR=0.07). Moreover, 3a genotype prevented HCV people from having cryoglobulinemia (p=0.05; OR=0.11). As to HLA, DR6 seemed to facilitate EHM in HCV patients (p=0.041; OR=1.61), while DQ2 (p=0.03; OR=0.5) and DQ3 (p=0.002; OR= 0.5) may play a protective role. In addition, HLA DR3 was associated with cryoglobulinemia (p=0.02; OR=9.5).
According to our findings, 2c genotype can be considered as a major risk factor for developing HCVrelated EHM, while 1b genotype seems to prevent their onset; there are also evidences suggesting that HLA might play a role in chronic HCV infected patients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To evaluate changes of serum IL-17, activin A, follistatin, and other cytokines during pregnancy in women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
A group of patients with SLE and controls were longitudinally studied, collecting a blood sample before and during three trimesters of pregnancy. Serum activin A, follistatin, IL-17, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α concentrations were evaluated by specific ELISA.
Before pregnancy, while serum IL-17, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α resulted significantly higher in women with SLE (P<0.001), activin A and follistatin were not changed. Serum IL-17 concentrations were higher in SLE than in controls with no changes during pregnancy. IL-6 increased in both groups, resulting higher in SLE than in controls only in the first trimester (P<0.05). IL-10 concentration in SLE increased during pregnancy resulting significantly higher than in controls (P<0.01). TNF-α levels were higher in SLE than in controls in third trimester (P<0.01). Serum activin A levels in SLE were significantly higher than in controls (P<0.001) at third trimester.
Women with SLE show increased secretions of activin A, IL-17, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α during gestation, with a different trend for the various cytokines. These data suggest that patients with SLE have a hyper-reactive immune system, probably receiving a placental contribution.
American Journal Of Reproductive Immunology 08/2011; 66(2):84-9. · 3.32 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent evidence suggests that anti-Ro/SSA antibodies, strongly associated with the development of congenital heart block, may also be arrhythmogenic for the adult heart. In fact, anti-Ro/SSA-positive patients with connective tissue disease (CTD) frequently display corrected QT (QTc) prolongation associated with an increase in ventricular arrhythmias. However, QTc prolongation prevalence markedly differs throughout the studies (10-60%), but the reason why is not yet clear. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether anti-Ro/SSA-associated QTc prolongation in adult patients with CTD is related to antibody level and specificity.
Forty-nine adult patients with CTD underwent a resting 12-lead electrocardiogram recording to measure QTc interval, and a venous withdrawal to determine anti-Ro/SSA antibody level and specificity (anti-Ro/SSA 52 kd and anti-Ro/SSA 60 kd) by immunoenzymatic methods and Western blotting.
In our population, a direct correlation was demonstrated between anti-Ro/SSA 52-kd level and QTc duration (r = 0.38, P = 0.007), patients with a prolonged QTc had higher levels of anti-Ro/SSA 52 kd with respect to those with a normal QTc (P = 0.003), and patients with a moderate to high level (≥50 units/ml) of anti-Ro/SSA 52 kd showed a longer QTc interval (P = 0.008) and a higher QTc prolongation prevalence (P = 0.008) than those with a low positive/negative level (<50 units/ml). On the contrary, no association was found between QTc and anti-Ro/SSA 60-kd level.
In anti-Ro/SSA-positive adult patients with CTD, the occurrence of QTc prolongation seems strictly dependent on the anti-Ro/SSA 52-kd level. This finding, possibly explaining the different QTc prolongation prevalence reported, strengthens the hypothesis that an extremely specific autoimmune cross-reaction is responsible for the anti-Ro/SSA-dependent interference on ventricular repolarization.
Arthritis care & research. 07/2011; 63(10):1463-70.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PurposeThe aim of our study was to determine the prevalence, clinical significance of antibodies to individual histone components
and to evaluate their correlation with other autoantibody specificities in a cohort of Italian SSc patients. Some authors,
demonstrated high prevalence of anti-histone antibodies in Italian SSc patients, associated with cardiac and renal involvement,
suggesting a prognostic value of these autoantibodies; however, these data need to be confirmed.
MethodsSerum from 112 adult SSc patients, classified as diffuse (dc) and limited cutaneous (lc) SSc subsets were analyzed for autoantibodies
by indirect immunofluorescence, fluoroenzyme immunoassay and enzyme immunoassay.
ResultsAHA were found in 13 patients (11.6%), nine with lcSSc and four with dcSSc. Among them, five patients were anti-Scl70+ and
four were anti-CENP B+. The presence of AHA was not associated with multi-organ involvement or with diffuse subset, as already
described. Anti-Scl70 was detected in 43% of patients, anti-CENP B in 32% and anti-RNA polymerase III in 7.1%. We confirmed
the association between anti-Scl70 antibodies and pulmonary fibrosis (OR 15.75, p<0.0001).
ConclusionIn our experience, the very low prevalence of AHA in Italian SSc patients and the lack of association with clinical manifestations
suggest that this test is of little clinical use; however, it would be worthwhile extending the study to a larger population
KeywordsSystemic sclerosis–Anti-histone antibodies–Prevalence–Clinical manifestations
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most autoinflammatory disorders typically come out in the pediatric population, although a limited number of patients may experience disease onset during adulthood. To date, a late disease onset has been described only in familial Mediterranean fever, caused by mutations in the MEFV gene, and in tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic syndrome, caused by mutations in the TNFRSF1A gene. The relative rarity and lack of information on adult-onset autoinflammatory diseases make it likely that mutations will be found in an even smaller percentage of cases. With the aim of improving the genetic diagnosis in adults with suspected autoinflammatory disorders, we recently identified a set of variables related to the probability of detecting gene mutations in MEFV and TNFRSF1A and, in addition, we have also proposed a diagnostic score for identifying those patients at high risk of carrying mutations in these genes. In the present study we evaluated the preliminary score sensitivity and specificity on a wider number of patients in order to validate the goodness of fit of the model. Two hundred and nineteen consecutive patients with a clinical history of periodic fever attacks were screened for mutations in MEFV and TNFRSF1A genes; detailed information about family/personal history and clinical manifestations were also collected. For the validation of the score we considered data both from the 110 patients used to build the preliminary diagnostic score and from the additional 219 patients enrolled in the present study, for a total number of 329 patients. Early age at disease onset, positive family history for recurrent fever episodes, thoracic pain, abdominal pain and skin rash, which are the variables that had previously been shown to be significantly associated with a positive genetic test result (12), were used for validation. On univariate analysis the associations with a positive genetic test were: age at onset (odds ratio [OR] 0.43, p=0.003), positive family history for recurrent fever episodes (OR 5.81, p<0.001), thoracic pain (OR 3.17, p<0.001), abdominal pain (OR 3.80, p<0.001) and skin rash (OR 1.58, p=0.103). The diagnostic score was calculated using the linear combination of the estimated coefficients of the logistic multivariate model (cut-off equals to 0.24) revealing good sensitivity (0.778) and good specificity (0.718). In conclusion, our score may serve in the diagnostic evaluation of adult patients presenting with recurrent fever episodes suspected of having an autoinflammatory disorder, helping identify the few subjects among them who may be carriers of mutations in MEFV and TNFRSF1A genes.
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 01/2011; 24(3):695-702. · 2.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a connective tissue disease characterized by vascular and fibrotic changes in the skin and in internal organs. Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a peptide that has a role in promoting both vascular injury and the fibrotic process in SSc; indeed, patients with systemic sclerosis have higher levels of ET-1 compared with healthy subjects. Moreover, ET-1 enhances expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in animal model. Bosentan is a dual endothelin receptor antagonist approved for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension and digital ulcers in scleroderma patients. In animal models and in vitro models, after treatment with Bosentan, a significant reduction of cytokine (TNF α, IFN γ,IL-8, IL-4) levels was observed. The aim of the study is to verify whether Bosentan treatment in SSc patients can reduce circulating cytokines levels. We enrolled 10 patients affected by SSc with digital ulcers and/or pulmonary hypertension, treated with Bosentan 125 mg twice daily. Patients were tested for cytokines and ET-1 level before treatment and after 12 months. The cytokines tested were IL-10, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, GM-CSF, IFN-γ and TNF. Levels of ET-1, IL-10, IL-4, IL-5, GM-CSF and TNFalpha did not show consistent modification during treatment with Bosentan in respect to baseline, while IL-2, IL-6, IL-8 and IFN-γ were significantly decreased. Bosentan significantly reduced IL-2, IL-6, IL-8 and IFN- γ levels in SSc patients, probably slowing progression to fibrosis and vascular damage. This is the first report showing a decrease of profibrotic and proinflammatory cytokines levels in humans during treatment with Bosentan.
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 01/2011; 24(1):261-4. · 2.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To validate the clinical significance of anti-IFI16 autoantibodies in SSc and assess their associations with serological markers of SSc.
A semi-quantitative ELISA was used to detect anti-IFI16 autoantibodies in the sera of 344 SSc patients from seven Italian hospitals and 144 healthy controls. SSc-associated autoantibodies [anti-RNA polymerase III (anti-RNAP III) antibodies, anti-centromere, anti-topo I] and IF patterns were evaluated using commercial assays. Statistical analyses were performed to test clinical and serological associations.
The results of this study confirm a significant prevalence (29%) of anti-IFI16 antibodies in the SSc population (n = 344). Anti-IFI16 antibodies were also detected in 30% of the SSc patients who tested negative for both ACAs and anti-topo I (anti-Scl70) antibodies. In this subgroup of patients, anti-IFI16 antibodies were significantly associated with the limited cutaneous form of SSc with a sensitivity of 40% and a specificity of 81%. Moreover, analysis of the distribution of anti-RNAP III antibodies vs anti-IFI16 in the same SSc population showed that they were mutually exclusive. IIF revealed no association between anti-IFI16 and fluoroscopic patterns, due to a lack of IFI16 autoantigen in HEp-2 cells. Anti-IFI16 antibody levels were also significantly associated with heart involvement.
Anti-IFI16 autoantibodies are frequently detected in SSc, displaying clinical and laboratory associations, and being particularly useful for diagnosis and disease classification in patients who are negative for other SSc serological markers.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the prevalence of and independent factors associated with joint involvement in a large population of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
This study was cross-sectional, based on data collected on patients included in the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Scleroderma Trials and Research (EUSTAR) registry. We queried this database to extract data regarding global evaluation of patients with SSc and the presence of any clinical articular involvement: synovitis (tender and swollen joints), tendon friction rubs (rubbing sensation detected as the tendon was moved), and joint contracture (stiffness of the joints that decreased their range of motion). Overall joint involvement was defined by the occurrence of synovitis and/or joint contracture and/or tendon friction rubs.
We recruited 7286 patients with SSc; their mean age was 56 +/- 14 years, disease duration 10 +/- 9 years, and 4210 (58%) had a limited cutaneous disease subset. Frequencies of synovitis, tendon friction rubs, and joint contractures were 16%, 11%, and 31%, respectively. Synovitis, tendon friction rubs, and joint contracture were more prevalent in patients with the diffuse cutaneous subset and were associated together and with severe vascular, muscular, renal, and interstitial lung involvement. Moreover, synovitis had the highest strength of association with elevated acute-phase reactants taken as the dependent variable.
Our results highlight the striking level of articular involvement in SSc, as evaluated by systematic examination in a large cohort of patients with SSc. Our data also show that synovitis, joint contracture, and tendon friction rubs are associated with a more severe disease and with systemic inflammation.
The Journal of Rheumatology 07/2010; 37(7):1488-501. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study is to investigate the role of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), involved in DNA repair and in autoimmune pathologic conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and both limited systemic sclerosis (lSSc) and diffuse systemic sclerosis (dSSc), to assess its possible implication in the pathogenetic processes. The relationship between PARP activity and the intracellular concentration of its substrate nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is also investigated. Peripheral mononuclear cells (PMC) from controls and patients with SLE, lSSc, and dSSc were irradiated with ultraviolet light (UV) and PARP activity was assayed by a radiochemical method. Pyridine nucleotide concentrations were assayed by a high-performance liquid chromatography-linked method. PARP activity was detectable in nonirradiated cells and showed similar values in all groups. The activity significantly increased after UV irradiation in control, SLE, and lSSc cells, but not in dSSc cells. Irradiated PMC from both SLE and dSSc showed lower enzyme activity with respect to irradiated controls. Higher intracellular NAD content was found in all of the pathologic conditions in comparison to values in the control; this difference was statistically significant in dSSc. Our data demonstrate a lower PARP activity in response to UV damage in PMC from patients affected by the above pathologic conditions compared with controls. An inverse relationship between PARP activity and NAD content was also observed.
Human immunology 05/2009; 70(7):487-91. · 2.55 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The poor prognosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be aggravated by the concomitant presence of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and there are no guidelines for the treatment of patients affected by both conditions.
To propose new therapeutic strategies for patient affected by RA and concomitant HCV chronic infection.
Review of the literature on the usage of cyclosporine-A (CsA) and anti-tumour-necrosis-factor (TNF)-alpha agents for the treatment of patients affected by RA and HCV.
CsA exerts an inhibitory effect on HCV replication and it is safe in patients affected by RA and HCV. Anti-TNF-alpha agents are safe and efficacious in patient with RA and HCV. Anti-TNF-alpha and CsA can be safely given in combination in RA patients with HCV infection.
Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy 04/2009; 10(4):579-87. · 2.86 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: (a) To evaluate tissue eosinophil density, location of eosinophil cytotoxic products, histopathological muscle changes and inflammatory cell types in different eosinophilia-associated myopathies that are clinicopathologically heterogeneous. (b) To determine the immunohistological range of tissue eosinophil density in non-eosinophilic inflammatory myopathies.
Muscle biopsy specimens from seven patients with blood and/or tissue eosinophilia and clinicolaboratory myopathic signs (five chronic course myopathies, one subacute onset fasciitis/myositis, one acute myositis), and from 18 non-eosinophilic inflammatory myopathies, underwent routine staining, inflammatory infiltrate immunophenotyping, immunostaining for eosinophil major basic protein (MBP) and transmission electron microscopy examination. Eosinophil and total inflammatory cell counts were statistically analysed.
Histological examination showed occasional or no infiltrating eosinophils in all cases. MBP staining showed that tissue eosinophil density and percentages in eosinophilia-associated myopathies were significantly higher than in idiopathic myositides. Extracellular MBP diffusion, the hallmark of eosinophil cytotoxicity, was recurrent on sarcolemma and endothelium. Electron microscopy showed eosinophils close to sarcolemma, abundant mast cells, and capillary endothelial swelling. Immunostaining detected a higher mean eosinophil density in idiopathic myositides than previously assessed histologically.
MBP immunohistology on skeletal muscle, previously performed only for acute eosinophilic polymyositis, suggests that eosinophil-mediated injury of muscle cells may occur in a wider spectrum of less aggressive eosinophilia-associated myopathies than previously thought. As conventional histology is likely to underestimate this leucocyte subset, MBP staining may be a useful tool in the analysis of tissue infiltration of eosinophils as a possible treatment target.
Journal of clinical pathology 02/2009; 62(5):442-7. · 2.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Behcets disease (BD) is a chronic, relapsing, multi-system inflammatory disorder, clinically characterized by recurrent oral and genital ulcers, skin lesions, and uveitis. Other manifestations include arthritis, a positive pathergy test, thrombophlebitis, central nervous system disease and gastrointestinal ulcerations. The majority of affected individuals do not have life-threatening disease, although mortality can be associated with vascular-thrombotic and neurological manifestations. Currently, treatment of BD is symptomatic and empirical, and is tailored according to the severity of clinical features. In the past few years, isolated reports and case-series have been published on adult BD patients suggesting that inhibition of TNF-alpha is a promising therapeutic approach for severe ocular and various extra-ocular manifestations, including central nervous system involvement. In this study we present our promising experience with Etanercept therapy in juvenile-onset BD patients, characterized by refractory multiorgan involvement.
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 01/2009; 22(2):551-5. · 2.99 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study further expands our previous observation demonstrating the usefulness of combination therapy of anti-TNF-alpha and cyclosporine A in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and concurrent hepatitis C virus infection, as well its efficacy and safety in controlling HCV viremia and liver toxicity. Seven patients were included in the study; transaminase levels remained unchanged, HCV RNA serum levels decreased significantly and DAS 28 significantly improved after twelve month follow-up. No side effects were registered.
International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology 01/2009; 22(2):543-6. · 2.99 Impact Factor