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  1. APS: What Rheumatologists Should Know about Hughes Syndrome February 17, 2016 • By Graham R.V. Hughes, MD, FRCP. The problem that dogs the work of all of those treating patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is the apparent lack of knowledge of the syndrome, both by the general public, as well as by swaths of the medical fraternity. You Might Also Like Put Hughes Syndrome on Your Radar New Assays May Help in the Diagnosis & Management of Antiphospholipid Syndrome Why Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome Should Be On Your Radar Explore this issue February 2016 Perhaps it was ever thus—a syndrome less than 40 years old could be described as new, but a syndrome that is common, touches all branches of medicine and, above all, that is potentially treatable, surely deserves wider recognition. Some of the difficulties derive from the complex clinical nature of APS: the half diagnoses, such as the migraine patient’s diagnostic pathway, which stops at “migraine”; the “atypical angina” in a 40-year-old woman that goes no further than “atypical angina”; the second or third miscarriage that is accepted as one of nature’s misfortunes; or, especially, the memory loss in that same 40 year old who goes undiagnosed. And most troublesome, the common failure to appreciate the limitations of antiphospholipid (aPL) testing and the vital, pivotal concept of sero­negative APS. The story of APS has, for me, been an incredible journey, from the early days in the late 1970s and early 1980s, followed by the original series of publications describing the clinical features and antibody studies resulting in our description of the anti-cardiolipin syndrome and later, to the (still technically not totally correct) anti-phospholipid syndrome.1-8 In the Third International Antiphospholipid Conference in 1994 in Leuven, Belgium, my colleagues honored me by naming the syndrome, Hughes syndrome. Thirty years on, there is still great satisfaction in diagnosing and treating APS patients with such discordant-seeming features as cataplexy and stillbirth, avascular hip necrosis and vertigo, or abdominal angina and multiple fractures—to give examples from recent clinics. Why the Brain? For me, APS/Hughes syndrome is very much a neurological condition. Brain function does seem to be especially targeted—the more APS patients one sees, the wider and wider the neuropsychiatric ripples spread. There have, of course, been many promising lines of research into the pathogenesis of cerebral APS, and many mechanisms have been proposed, ranging from platelet activation, induction of tissue factor, disruption of the annexin A5 anticoagulant shield, endothelial activation and, of course, alteration of the permeability of the blood–brain barrier and direct binding to neuronal cell surfaces, some harking back to earlier forays by Bluestein, Denburg and ourselves into possible cross-reactivity between anti-lymphocyte antibodies and brain.9-13 Interactions between brain and clotting process have a long history, including the observation that the coagulation mechanism within the central nervous system has a number of differences from that found in other organs—the brain’s endothelium expressing little thrombomodulin, for example. Whatever the mechanism, it’s difficult to avoid the observation that treatment with anticoagulation (e.g., with low molecular weight [LMW] heparin) often dramatically reverses the symptoms, including the migraine, the memory difficulties and the chorea. Such observations suggest that the brain pathology in many cases might not be so much infarction, but might relate more to “sludging” of the blood supply and impaired oxygenation. Migraine & Stroke “Did you suffer from headaches as a teenager?” “Yes, doctor. They were almost weekly for a time. They went away for a few years, but they came back with a vengeance now. They run in my family.” So speaks the 30-year-old female patient with APS (the male members of the family appear less often in APS clinics). This is such an important diagnostic clue in the assessment of a patient with possible APS. Yet despite many years of experience of APS, there are surprisingly few data assessing the true role of APS in the wider world of migraine. There are so many reasons to study the association—the response to anticoagulation—usually good, often striking—the study of siblings and other family members of migraine/APS patients. And above all else, the links now being reported between migraine and stroke. Like migraine, stroke is one of the recognized complications of APS/Hughes syndrome. Figures as high as 1 in 5 young strokes (under 45) having positive aPL tests have been reported.14-19 However, as with migraine, recognition of aPL in the etiology of stroke is, in general, still poor. For example, childhood stroke—well recognized clinically—is a prime target for aPL studies. Some years ago, the U.K. government launched a major stroke initiative, educating the public about the symptoms, signs and treatment of stroke. The antiphospholipid syndrome wasn’t on the list. Seizures In 1985, we observed that in lupus patients, seizures were more common in those patients with positive aPL tests.20 Since then, it has become clear that epilepsy, in all its forms, is an important accompaniment of APS. So much so, that in one study of idiopathic epilepsy in teenagers, 1 in 5 was found to be aPL positive.21 The initial midwife or obstetrician’s screening should include a simple questionnaire to rule out APS. The ramifications of these observations are many. Let me give two clinical examples: Firstly, temporal lobe epilepsy in APS may be under-recognized. One of my patients, a woman with classical APS, became an EEG technician. During her training she used four of her siblings as guinea pigs. Three had abnormal temporal lobe activity. It’s interesting to see how often a family history of epilepsy crops up in the history taking of patients with APS. The second clinical anecdote has been published elsewhere.22 A 42-year-old patient had a past history of mild lupus. However, her major problem—and one with a significant impact on her busy life—was recurrent seizures, both petit mal and grand mal, the latter requiring specialist care and the combination of a number of anti-epileptic drugs. During her stay in London, she developed a DVT (she was found to be aPL positive), and routine anticoagulation with warfarin was started. An immediate and unexpected bonus was a marked reduction in the frequency and severity of the seizures, requiring far less aggressive anti-epileptic treatment. Memory Loss Possibly the commonest manifestation of APS is memory loss. Often, the problem only sees the light of day when the patient is asked about the symptom. So many patients confess to worries about Alzheimer’s. To date, detailed clinical studies are few and far between. From time to time, and, it must be said, in a fairly desultory fashion, we have carried out psychometric testing on selected APS patients—and the results have often been surprising. Even more so, given the striking improvement seen in memory tests when anticoagulation is commenced.23 Multiple Sclerosis In view of the prominence of neurological features, including visual disturbance and fluctuating myelopathy, seen in APS, it is not surprising that a number of cases are diagnosed as MS.24,25 The subject is far from straightforward. Some in neurology declare that positive aPL tests are, in fact, sometimes seen in classical MS. I would prefer to turn the picture around. Such patients, at least some, may be APS first and MS second. Although anecdotally a number of such cases respond to anticoagulation, in others the response is, at best, borderline. Uthman has recently reviewed the fairly substantial literature on APS vs. MS.26 Other Neurological Features These include balance problems (a number of cases presenting as Meniere’s), chorea (sometimes severe),27,28 anosmia, sleep disturbance (including cataplexy and narcolepsy) and, recently, autonomic disturbance with a series of cases of POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome).29 One of the questions on which there is debate is the prevalence of psychiatric manifestations. It has been my view that acute psychosis has been more a feature of lupus than APS, but in this I may be wrong. One of my patients, a woman with APS and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), improved with anticoagulation treatment. Interestingly, her teenage son, also a patient with OCD (and aPL positive), found the neuropsychiatric manifestations were far less prominent when aspirin treatment was started. Not the Brain Bone & joints—Have you suffered any fractures? A question not perhaps part of the routine history taking in APS patients. And yet, spontaneous bone fracture is becoming well recognized following the report of 27 spontaneous metatarsal fractures by Dr. Shirish Sangle in APS patients.30 Anecdotal reports suggest that (ischemic) bone fractures may be an important manifestation of the disease: My colleague, Professor Munther Khamashta, has a Hughes syndrome patient with normal DEXA and parathyroid studies who has had 57 spontaneous fractures. Clearly, this is an important area for clinical research. Likewise, avascular necrosis (AVN) hip pain is not uncommon in our APS patients. MRI has shown early AVN in some cases with no other risk factors, such as steroids. My clinical impression is that the hip pain often improves when heparin or warfarin is started. Heart—A major concern is the presence of angina and other cardiac symptoms in APS. Despite a few early reports of myocardial ischemia and coronary thrombosis, it’s only in recent years that publications revealing a high frequency of these complications have increased in frequency. Two examples are the research of Greco et al showing a relatively high prevalence of positive aPL tests in patients with cardiac ischemia, and the striking observation that women smokers on the pill who were aPL positive had a relative risk of 22 times for the development of myocardial infarction.31,32 The cardiac links are increased by the reporting of an association with cardiac syndrome X, angina with normal coronary angiographs.33 It’s a fair bet that aPL testing will become a standard in the cardiology clinic, especially in symptomatic women under 40. GI tract & liver—Since we made our observations on focal stenotic lesions in various arteries, including celiac and mesenteric arteries, we have focused more on symptoms of abdominal angina in patients with aPL/APS.34 This is a difficult condition to quantify, but we have seen a number of cases in whom clopidogrel or heparin has resulted in improvement (sometimes marked) in post-prandial pain. Although liver involvement in lupus is rare, abnormal liver function tests in APS are seen frequently. Although these can presage serious liver thrombosis, such as Budd-Chiari syndrome or the HELLP syndrome in pregnancy warning of impending catastrophic APS, more commonly, they have a more benign prognosis.35,36 One very positive case history: Back in the early 1980s, I saw a teenage girl with a DVT, positive aPL and Budd-Chiari syndrome. Prognosis poor? Thirty-plus years on, she remains well—on careful lifelong warfarin managed by her physicians in Portugal. Goldblatt’s disease, the kidney & APS—Renal artery stenosis, seen on a clear background of otherwise normal arteries, can mimic Goldblatt’s early observations on the development of hypertension in animals with experimentally occluded renal arteries. The discovery of renal artery stenosis localized lesions by Sangle led to similar findings in other vessels, leading to theories about localized thrombotic/endothelial pathology.37 Skin: livedo reticularis, an enigma—Although skin ulcers, dilated veins and subungual splinter hemorrhages are well-known sequelae of skin thrombosis in APS, livedo reticularis has an aura of mystery.38,39 Diagnostically, its presence is an important clue in patients suspected of having Hughes syndrome—including seronegative APS. Looking back over some of the conditions mentioned in this article—MS, migraine, multiple fractures, memory problems—for example, one wonders whether careful noting of the presence or absence of livedo might prove significant in the differential diagnosis of these conditions. One thing is certain: The presence of livedo adds an extra dimension to the severity of the clinical picture. Pregnancy Of course, the headline story of the syndrome is in pregnancy, where the success rate of healthy deliveries in aPL-positive pregnancies has soared from under 15% to over 90%. Without a doubt, diagnosis and treatment of these cases has been a significant advance in the world of obstetrics.40 Sadly, all of us working with APS have looked after aPL-positive patients (some of whom had suffered early miscarriages) who lost a baby late in the pregnancy. Stillbirth. Two years ago, The Times of London published a lead article titled, “The Stillbirth Scandal,” highlighting the poor stillbirth figures in the U.K.41 Yet some cases of stillbirth in the aPL-positive women could have been prevented. For example, a recent study from Utah found that aPL pregnancies had a three- to fivefold increased odds of stillbirth.42 Would more routine aPL testing in pregnancy help? Cost considerations apply. Miscarriage is common, and there are numerous causes. Thus, the current recommendation is to reserve testing for those women with three or more miscarriages. This does seem harsh. Perhaps a simple screening process might help. I have suggested that part of the initial midwife or obstetrician’s screening should include a simple three-part questionnaire: Have you had a thrombosis? Are you a migraine sufferer? Do you have a family history of autoimmune disease (i.e., lupus, RA, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease)? I am sure that such a simple questionnaire might help identify a small at-risk group. In most centers, once the mother and baby are safely sent home, there is no long-term follow-up. Yet often, APS patients presenting at, say, the age of 40 with a thrombotic problem, give a past history of miscarriage 20 years earlier. In an ideal world, women with recurrent miscarriage deserve regular long-term follow-up. But the world is far from ideal. Lupus & APS The early clinical studies of APS were carried out in lupus clinics, and could well have included “lupus features.” Perhaps surprisingly, time has shown little difference between primary APS and the APS associated with lupus. There are, undoubtedly, some classical features of lupus (e.g., Libman Sachs endocarditis, stroke, seizures) that are more likely to be aPL related. It also appears likely that aPL positivity in lupus confers a higher chronicity index. The passage of time has also revealed one positive finding: It’s very unusual for patients with primary APS to develop lupus in later years. The Big 3 The association between Hughes syndrome, Sjögren’s and hypothyroidism is so common that I have taken to calling them the big 3. Clinically, it’s an important association because the clinical symptoms of the three conditions—fatigue, cold circulation, aches and pains, and balance and memory problems—are common to all three. Similarly, many of these patients are burdened with the label fibromyalgia. Each of the three interconnecting syndromes can respond well to treatment—for example, the clinical Sjögren’s to hydroxychloroquine and so on. Many of these patients are on my two trees treatment—willow (aspirin) and cinchona (quinine). Seronegative APS I believe that one of the benefits of a trainee clinician’s time spent in the lab is the recognition that many laboratory tests are open to variation. Many, many studies have attempted to assess the importance of titer, immunoglobulin class, triple or double positivity, relevance of “other” aPL such as anti-phosphatidyl-serine etc.43,44 Broadly, all of these have relevance, but in the clinic, some don’t fit, such as those patients with all of the clinical features of APS whose aPL tests remain doggedly negative. Some years ago, we wrote a paper introducing the term seronegative APS, calling attention to patients with strong clinical features of APS but with negative tests.45 The concept goes back to the early days of seronegative RA and seronegative lupus—both of which labels, although based on clinical observation alone, had important therapeutic and prognostic consequences. Three possible explanations for seronegative APS are: 1) The diagnosis is incorrect (unlikely in all cases); 2) the previously positive tests have become negative over time (uncommon in my experience); or 3) new tests are needed.46 Perhaps the most potent reason for open-mindedness about seronegative APS comes from family studies. Some weeks ago, I saw a pair of identical twins—the first with classical seropositive APS, who later brought along her (absolutely) identical twin sister. The second twin had identical sets of symptoms, but unlike the first twin, she had negative aPL tests. Both patients responded to treatment. Once a year, we hold a patients meeting at our hospital. At the last meeting, we arranged a simple anonymous questionnaire with two questions: Are you a patient with APS or a friend/spouse? Have you any close female relative (sister, mother, aunt) with autoimmune disease (i.e., lupus, RA, thyroid, multiple sclerosis, APS)? The result: Sixty percent of patients had a positive history of autoimmune illnesses in close relatives. Less than 20% of friends/spouses answered positive. It may be that my own experience is skewed by referral bias from families of APS patients—but seropositive or not, most patients with seronegative APS respond just as well to treatment. If some of these individuals in the family study did, in fact, have seronegative APS yet were potentially responsive to treatment, then the possibilities are intriguing. Perhaps a higher percentage of our migraine, young stroke, young angina patients might benefit from a closer look for more of the clues to APS—the dry Schirmer’s, the livedo, the family history of autoimmune disease—for example. Treatment Aspects In many ways, it’s disappointing to confess that 30 years on, there are few new treatments. Introduction of the new oral anticoagulants in the treatment of APS has been predictably cautious, and it is too early to generalize.47 Statins, IVIG and hydroxychlorquine have been thrown into the mix and, of course, anti-B cell therapy has received favorable anecdotes. A recent study from Paris suggested that sirolimus, used in renal transplantation, might have a protective effect on aPL-induced vasculopathy.48 So in 2016, the current treatment of APS is still largely confined to aspirin, clopidogrel, heparin and warfarin. Low-dose aspirin, despite its detractors, is, of course, first choice in many APS patients. However, clopidogrel remains a useful alternative in patients with gastritis or in asthmatics. But there is a third role for clopidogrel—important in the real world of practical medicine—that is, in those patients who, for whatever reason, have tried aspirin, without clear benefit. Heparin—Low molecular weight heparin has, in most countries, largely replaced old heparin, and with it, fears of thrombocytopenia and osteoporosis have largely disappeared. This is an important point to make, because many practitioners are reluctant to prolong heparin usage. Two observations: First, a number of patients improve dramatically on heparin, only to feel less well on warfarin. Where to go next? When dosage issues, warfarin resistance and compliance are (hopefully) ruled out, one immediate option is a temporary return to heparin. In some cases, temporary has turned into semi-long term. In our APS clinic we have a couple dozen such patients who, by choice, have remained on subcutaneous heparin for two years or more. Yes, they have experienced bruising, but so far, we have not seen worsening DEXA scans. The second (and very clinical) observation concerns a heparin trial. It is a regular observation that aPL/APS patients on heparin during pregnancy are often headache free for the full eight or nine months. This led us to develop a clinical tool—a therapeutic trial that has stood us in good stead. The trial is a three- or four-week course of LMW heparin.49 Let me give an example of its use: In the aPL/APS patient with increasingly severe headaches despite aspirin/clopidogrel (and with a normal brain MRI), a trial of 10,000 units of dalteparin (or enoxaparin) for three or four weeks can achieve substantial results. First, it can give a surprisingly clear indication of whether anticoagulation is the correct path. Second, in the traumatized patient who has been down the familiar pathway of multiple specialist consultations, with borderline clinical success, it can be a major turning point—the first palpable sign of improvement. Warfarin—There is little new to say about warfarin. It has been vilified by the media, but it remains one of the most useful drugs in our armamentarium. Warfarin, to put it in simple terms, protects against stroke and heart attack in APS. Mention has been made of the frequent need for a higher INR in many APS patients—especially those with neurological features. I am a strong believer in the use of self-testing INR machines whenever possible in our patients. Sadly, some anticoagulant clinics oppose the use of self-testing machines. To me, this is wrong. Look at the freedom self-testing for insulin-dependent diabetics has achieved. As physicians, I believe we have a duty (until better, newer anticoagulants become established) to support warfarin as a largely safe, effective medicine that has saved many thousands of lives. Miscellany Spontaneous bone fracture is becoming well recognized following the report of 27 spontaneous metatarsal fractures by Dr. Shirish Sangle in APS patients. Image Credit: Puwadol Jaturawutthichai/shutterstock.com The Family—It comes as no surprise that a family history is an important clue in Hughes syndrome. Autoimmune disease (particularly thyroid) crops up regularly as a diagnosis in relatives of our patients. But how often are these family cases diagnosed? Examples could include the 17-year-old daughter of an APS patient suffering from headache and glandular fever, the sibling with multiple sclerosis or the mother and aunt of a newly diagnosed APS patient who suffered a stroke in their early 40s. It is not inconceivable that APS has changed the course of history, as in the case reported by my friend, Dr. Gerald Weissmann, of Queen Anne of England who had 17 failed pregnancies and died childless, thereby bringing an end to the Stuart reign and the start of the Hanoverians—with George III, American Colony taxes, the revolution and the birth of the U.S.50 The Offspring—To date, most studies have suggested that the offspring of aPL-positive mothers have no major adverse effects (other than, perhaps, the later-developing inherited APS features in some). However, some worrying case reports of fetal and neonatal problems indicate a need for further study. The ongoing studies of Drs. Anne Parke, Angela Tincani, Maria Claire Boffa and others will, in time, provide some of these missing data.51,52 Classification vs. diagnosis— Dear Doctor, I would be grateful if you could advise on this patient. She developed thrombosis on the oral contraceptive pill. She has had one positive test for aPL, but did not have a repeat test 12 weeks later. As in the case of lupus, classification criteria do sometimes become mixed up with diagnosis. Many patients don’t come armed with tests “12 weeks apart” (this criterion was introduced to cover the risk that an inter-current infection might have led to a transient positive aPL test—not a major factor in our assessment of this patient). There are also financial considerations, such as in the following study from Beirut, Lebanon. “Only 50.5% had both aCL and LA tested. … The cost of each test was around US$50 for the patient. … It remains to be seen whether the test costs might partly explain the very small percentage of patients who did undergo a follow-up confirmatory test.” The recognition of the many non-thrombotic manifestations of APS has added to the importance of separating diagnosis from classification. Perhaps, laboratory advances in the measurement of potential risk markers will, in time, come to our aid.44 Fear of Flying—This clinical anecdote appears regularly in my clinic. So much so that I believe it needs further study. A number of my APS patients, notably before treatment has been started, suffer badly from prolonged jet lag after a long-haul flight, with fatigue, headache and confusion, sometimes lasting for days. Interestingly, once heparin or warfarin treatment is successfully commenced, this phenomenon disappears. Whether these symptoms relate to mild cerebral hypoxia second to slightly reduced cabin pressure is not known. Nevertheless, some of my patients with APS will supplement their aspirin treatment prior to a long-haul flight with an injection of LMW heparin. Although the placebo effect may be considerable, I am sufficiently impressed by the clinical experience of these (observant) patients to believe that the phenomenon of prolonged jet lag in many of our patients is very real. The Future—At the 14th International Congress on Antiphospholipid Antibodies held in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, I was asked for my predictions on the future of APS.23 In summary, I believe: aPL testing will become worldwide and routine; Over-the-counter aPL testing kits will become available; A substantial subset of migraine sufferers will have new hope; APS will become recognized as the major link between migraine and stroke; Heart attacks in young women (especially those under 45) will be reduced; Strokes in those under 45 will be reduced; Some cases of accelerated arterial disease will be recognized as being associated with (untreated) aPL; Some cases of memory loss are treatable; APS will continue to have a profound effect on our clinical assessment and treatment of lupus; and Finally, to return to the opening theme, the incidence of stillbirth will be reduced, thanks, in part, to a more proactive approach to aPL testing in pregnancy. To repeat a sentence taken from the 1983 paper:1 For those of us hardened into nihilism by years of study of various autoantibodies in SLE, there is a rare sense of excitement at the implications of the associations now being reported. Thirty years on, that clinical excitement remains undimmed. Graham R.V. Hughes, MD, FRCP, is a consultant rheumatologist and head of the London Lupus Centre. He trained at The London Hospital, and spent two years in New York working on the introduction of the DNA-binding test, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Christian. In 1971, he opened a specialist clinic in London, dealing uniquely with lupus and related diseases. He is founder and editor of the international journal, Lupus. In 1983, he described the antiphospholipid syndrome and in 1991, was awarded the ILAR (world research) prize for this work. Other honors include Doctor Honoris Causa in the Universities of Marseille and Barcelona, and Master of the ACR. References Hughes GR. Thrombosis, abortion, cerebral disease, and the lupus anticoagulant. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 Oct 15;287(6399):1088–1089. Harris EN, Gharavi AE, Boey ML, et al. Anticardiolipin in antibodies: Detection by radioimmunoassay and association with thrombosis in SLE. Lancet. 1983 Nov 26;2(8361):1211–1214. Boey ML, Colaco CB, Gharavi AE, et al. Thrombosis in SLE: Striking association with the presence of circulating lupus anticoagulant. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 Oct 8;287:1021–1023. Hughes GR. The Prosser White oration 1983: Connective tissue disease and the skin. Clin Exp Dermatol. 1984 Nov;9(6):535–544. Asherson RA, Mackworth-Young CG, Boey ML, Hughes GRV. Pulmonary hypertension in systemic lupus erythematosus. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1983 Oct 8;287(6398):1024–1025. Derue GJ, Englert HJ, Harris EN, et al. Fetal loss in systemic lupus: Association with anticardiolipin antibodies. J Obstet Gynaecol. 1985;5(4):207–209. Hughes GR, Harris NN, Gharavi AE. The anticardiolipin syndrome. J Rheumatol. 1986 Jun;13(3):486–489. Hughes GR. Hughes’ syndrome: The anticardiolipin syndrome. A historical view.Lupus. 1998;7 Suppl 2:S1–S4. Carecchio M, Cantello R, Comi C. Revisiting the molecular mechanism in antiphospholipid syndrome: Beyond vascular damage. J Immunol Res. 2014;2014:239398. Bluestein HG, Zvaifler NJ. Brain-reactive lymphocytotoxic antibodies in the serum of patients with SLE. J Clin Invest. 1976 Feb;57(2):509–516. Bresnihan B, Oliver N, Grigor R, Hughes GR. Brain-reactivity of lymphocytotoxic anitibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus with and without cerebral involvement. Clin Exp Immunol. 1977 Dec;30(3):333–337. Bresnihan B, Hohmeister R, Cutting J, et al. The neuropsychiatric disorder in SLE: Evidence for both vascular and immune mechanisms. Ann Rheum Dis. 1979 Aug;38(4):301–306. Denburg SD, Behmann SA, Carbotte RM, et al. Lymphocyte antigens in neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus. Relationship of lymphocyte antibody specificities to clinical disease. Arthritis Rheum. 1994 Mar;37(3):369–375. Harris EN, Gharavi AE, Asherson RA, et al. Cerebral infarction in SLE. Association with anticardiolipin antibodies. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1984 Jan-Mar;2(1):47–51. Navarrete MG, Brey RL, Levine SR. “Cerebral disease in the antiphospholipid syndrome” in Hughes Syndrome—Antiphospholipid Syndrome. Khamashta MA, ed. Springer, London: 2000. Sanna G, Bertolaccini ML, Cuadrado MJ, et al. Central nervous system involvement in the antiphospholipid (Hughes) syndrome. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2003 Feb;42(2):200–213. Etminan M, Takkouche B, Isorna FC, Samii A. Risk of ischaemic stroke in people with migraine: Systemic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ. 2005 Jan 8;330(7482):63. Nencini P, Baruffi MC, Abbate R, et al. Lupus anticoagulant and anticardiolipin antibodies in young adults with cerebral ischaemia. Stroke. 1992 Feb;23(2):189–193. Hughes GR. Antiphospholipid syndrome, migraine and stroke. Lupus. 2010 Apr;19(5):555–556. Mackworth-Young CG, Hughes GR. Epilepsy: An early symptom of systemic lupus erythematosus. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1985 Feb;48(2):185. Cimaz R, Meroni PL, Shoenfeld Y. Epilepsy as part of systemic lupus erythematosus and systemic antiphospholipid syndrome (Hughes syndrome). Lupus. 2006;15(4):191–194. Hughes GR. “Diplomatic epilepsy” in Understanding Hughes Syndrome. Springer-Verlag, London: 2009. Hughes GR. Hughes syndrome/APS. 30 years on, what have we learnt? Opening talk at the 14th International Congress on antiphospholipid antibodies. Rio de Janeiro, October 2013. Lupus. 2014;23:400–406. Cuadrado MJ, Khamashta MA, Ballesteros A, et al. Can neurologic manifestations of Hughes (antiphospholipid) syndrome be distinguished from multiple sclerosis? Analysis of 27 patients and review of the literature. Medicine (Baltimore). 2000 Jan;79(1):57–68. Hughes GR. Migraine, memory loss, and “multiple sclerosis.” Neurological features of the antiphospholipid (Hughes’) syndrome. Postgrad Med J. 2003 Feb;79(928):81–83. Uthman I, Noureldine MH, Berjawi A, et al. Hughes syndrome and multiple sclerosis. Lupus. 2015 Feb;24(2):115–121. Cervera R, Asherson RA, Font J, et al. Chorea in the antiphospholipid syndrome. Clinical, radiologic, and immunologic characteristics of 50 patients from our clinics and the recent literature. Medicine (Baltimore). 1997 May;76(3):203–212. Baizabal-Carvallo JF, Bonnet C, Jankovic J. Movement disorders in systemic lupus erythematosus and the antiphospholipid syndrome. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2013 Nov;120(11):1579–1589. Schofield JR, Blitshteyn S, Shoenfeld Y, et al. Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and other autonomic disorders in antiphospholipid (Hughes) syndrome (APS). Lupus. 2014 Jun;23(7):697–702. Sangle S, D’Cruz DP, Khamashta MA, et al. Antiphospholipid antibodies, systemic lupus erythematosus, and non-traumatic metatarsal fractures. Ann Rheum Dis. 2004 Oct;63(10):1241–1243. Greco TP1, Conti-Kelly AM, Greco T Jr., et al. Newer antiphospholipid antibodies predict adverse outcomes in patients with acute coronary syndrome. Am J Clin Pathol. 2009 Oct;132(4):613–620. Urbanus RT, Siegerink B, Roest M, et al. Antiphospholipid antibodies and risk of myocardial infarction and ischaemic stroke in young women in the RATIO study: A case-control study. Lancet Neurol. 2009 Nov;8(11):998–1005. Nair S, Khamashta MA, Hughes GR. Syndrome X and Hughes syndrome. Lupus. 2002;11(5):332. Sangle SR, Jan W, Lau IS, et al. Coeliac artery stenosis and antiphospholipid (Hughes) syndrome/antiphospholipid antibodies. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2006 May–Jun;24(3):349. Mackworth-Young CG, Melia WM, Harris EN, et al. The Budd-Chiari syndrome. Possible pathogenetic role of anti-phospholipid antibodies. J Hepatol. 1986;3(1):83-86. Hanouna G, Morel N, Le Thi Huong D, et al. Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome and pregnancy: An experience of 13 cases. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Sep;52(9):1635–1641. Sangle SR, D’Cruz DP, Jan W, et al. Renal artery stenosis in antiphospholipid syndrome (Hughes) and hypertension. Ann Rheum Dis. 2003 Oct;62(10):999–1002. Englert HJ, Loizou S, Derue GG, et al. Clinical and Immunological features of livedo reticularis in lupus. Am J Med. 1989 Oct;87(4):408–410. Sangle SR, D’Cruz DP. Livedo reticularis: An enigma. Isr Med Assoc J. 2015 Feb;17(2):104–107. Ateka-Barrutia O, Khamashta MA. The challenge of pregnancy for patients with SLE. Lupus. 2013 Oct;22(12):1295–1308. Hughes GR. The stillbirth scandal. Lupus. 2013 Jul;22(8):759–760. Silver RM, Parker CB, Reddy UM, et al. Antiphospholipid antibodies in stillbirth. Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Sep;122(3):641–657. Rodriguez-Garcia JL, Bertolaccini ML, Cuadrado MJ, et al. Clinical manifestations of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) with and without antiphospholipid antibodies (the so-called ‘seronegative APS’). Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 Feb;71(2):242–244. Meroni PL, Chighizab CB, Rovelli F, et al. Antiphospholipid syndrome in 2014: More clinical manifestations, novel pathogenic players and emerging biomarkers. Arthritis Res Ther. 2014;16(2):209. Hughes GR, Khamashta MA. Seronegative antiphospholipid syndrome. Ann Rheum Dis. 2003 Dec;62(12):1127. Rodguez-Garcia JL, Bertolaccini ML, Cuadrado MJ, et al. Clinical manifestations of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) with and without antiphospholipid antibodies. Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 Feb;71(2):242–244. Giles I, Khamashta M, D’Cruz D, et al. A new dawn of anticoagulation for patients with antiphospholipid syndrome. Lupus. 2012 Oct;21(12):1263–1265. Canuad G, Bienaimé C, Taborin F, et al. Inhibition of the mTORC pathway in the antiphospholipid syndrome. New Eng J Med. 2014 Jul 24;371(4):303–312. Hughes GR. Heparin, antiphospholipid antibodies and the brain. Lupus. 2012 Sep;21(10):1039–1040. Weissmann G. Queen Anne’s lupus: Phospholipids and the course of the empire. FASEB J. 2014 Apr;28(4):1527–1530. Mekinian A, Lachassinne E, Nicaise-Roland P, et al. European registry of babies born to mothers with antiphospholipid syndrome. Ann Rheum Dis. 2013 Feb;72(2):217–222. Nalli C, Iodice A, Andreoti L, et al. Children born to SLE and APS mothers. Lupus. 2014 Oct;23(12):1246–1248. Major S, Pashayan N, Atweh S, et al. Practice patterns of antiphospholipid syndrome at a tertiary teaching hospital in Lebanon. Lupus. 2002;11(11):759–764. https://www.the-rheumatologist.org/article/aps-what-rheumatologists-know-about-hughes-syndrome/?singlepage=1
  2. APRIL 2019 11 April 2019 by Professor Graham R V Hughes MD FRCP Easter comes late this year. Frenetic Brexit politics – the Westminster establishment fighting to overturn the ‘popular vote’. So sad. Last week I gave a lecture at an ‘immuno-therapy’ meeting in Madrid. Three hundred attendees, including representatives of the Spanish patients’ APS Society. The atmosphere was fantastic. So many doctors (and patients’) wanting to learn more about our syndrome. Talking about ‘learning more’, we now have a date for our own Patients’ Meeting – Friday, 13th September 2019. (For details of the programme and admission, please visit our website: www.ghic.world). This year we are opening up the meeting to include topics on Sjogren’s and lupus, as well as antiphospholipid syndrome. I will also send this blog, as well as details or our annual Patients’ Meeting, to our colleagues in Spain. Patient of the Month “I still feel tired all the time”. Mrs J.S. aged 55, was referred by her G.P. complaining of a variety of symptoms, including aches and pains, headaches, constipation, pins and needles and mental sluggishness. Above all else, she felt constantly fatigued. Despite this very full set of symptoms, the diagnosis remained uncertain. The pins and needles in both hands were put down to carpal tunnel syndrome. But there was little else to find. In view of the frequent headaches, Mrs J.S. was referred to a neurologist who arranged for further tests, including a brain MRI (which showed two small ‘dot’ lesions – reported as probably not significant. To her credit, the neurologist considered lupus and arranged lupus blood tests among the more routine ones. The tests came back showing a normal blood count. However, the ESR (the guide to inflammation) came back ‘borderline positive’ at 35 (normal under 20). The tests for lupus were essentially negative (anti-DNA negative, ANA ‘weak’ (1 in 80). What is the diagnosis (1)? The penny dropped. Could this be thyroid? Bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome is certainly seen in ‘low thyroid’, and significantly Mrs J.S. had a sister with ‘Hashimotos thyroiditis’ – and underactive thyroid with auto-immune features. As with all her other tests the thyroid blood tests were ‘borderline’. Nevertheless, the fatigue, the constipation, the aches and pains, could all be down to ‘low thyroid’. Following a *‘kerbside consult’, with her endocrinology colleague, she instituted thyroxine treatment. Within 2 months the pins and needles were gone and the mental sluggishness, as well as the constipation, were improving. BUT – the aches and pains and the fatigue remained – as bad as ever. What is the diagnosis (2)? It turned out that Mrs J.S. had suffered a series of miscarriages in her early 20’s and she and her husband remained childless. Could the problems – especially the frequent headaches – be due to Hughes Syndrome? Sure enough the antiphospholipid antibody (aPL) tests were strongly positive – not even ‘borderline’. She was started on clopidogrel (‘Plavix’) – an anti-clotting drug similar to aspirin (Mrs J.S. had previously tried aspirin but found it caused indigestion. Result? An almost immediate lessening of the headaches. And, if anything, a further improvement in her memory problems. BUT: no improvement in the fatigue or the aches and pains. What is the diagnosis (3)? Mrs J.S. was referred to a lupus clinic. Again, the results were similar (‘borderline’ ANA and negative anti-DNA). The lupus clinic doctor had seen this before – possible ‘Sjogren’s syndrome’. And, sure enough, the Shirmer’s test – a simple ‘blotting paper’ eye test was completely dry – a useful and very inexpensive screening test for the dry eyes of Sjogren’s Syndrome. Low dose hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) (one a day) was started. Three months later at follow-up clinic, ‘fatigue gone. Aches gone. Back to normal life”. What is this patient teaching us? I often talk of ‘The Big Three’ diseases – Lupus, Sjogren’s and Hughes Syndrome, which can overlap clinically However, the world of auto-immune diseases in which I practice includes another ‘big three’, which frequently go together : Hughes Syndrome, Sjogren’s Syndrome and low thyroid (often, specifically, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) – three ‘named’ syndromes. Clearly, to miss one or even two of the triad would be an ‘under-treatment’. The three conditions can have similar features. And fortunately, potentially very successful treatment – thyroid, aspirin (or Plavix) and hydroxychloroquine. I call the combination of aspirin and hydroxychloroquine (derived from quinine) my ‘two trees’ – treatment –willow and cinchona. Perhaps the biggest lesson from this patient is that there may be more than one diagnosis causing the problems. PROFESSOR GRAHAM R V HUGHES MD FRCP Head of The London Lupus Centre London Bridge Hospital http://www.ghic.world/blog/april-2019
  3. UK government proposes sweeping new regulations of online content Companies could face fines if they fail to take down content quickly. TIMOTHY B. LEE - 4/9/2019, 1:33 AM Enlarge / British Prime Minister Theresa May. Jack Taylor/Getty Images The British government is considering sweeping new laws to regulate problematic content online, ranging from terrorist propaganda to fake news. A new proposal unveiled on Monday would impose a new "duty of care" on websites hosting user-submitted content. Under the plan, a new UK agency would develop codes of practice outlining how sites should deal with various types of harmful content. The new proposal follows last month's mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 50 people dead. In the wake of that attack, Australia passed a new law that requires major platforms to quickly remove violent online material—or face harsh fines and possibly even jail time. On Monday, a committee of the EU parliament backed a law that would fine online platforms up to 4 percent of their revenue if they failed to take down terrorist content within four hours. Britain's proposal is much broader, requiring technology companies to police their platforms for a wide range of objectionable material. Companies could face fines if they don't remove harmful material quickly. A 100-page white paper from Theresa May's government details the many categories of content that would be governed by the new rules, including child pornography, revenge pornography, cyberstalking, hate crimes, encouragement of suicide, sale of illegal goods, sexting by minors, and "disinformation." The proposal would also try to stop inmates from posting online content in violation of prison rules. Such a sweeping proposal would be unlikely to pass muster in the United States, where the First Amendment sharply limits government regulation of online content. But America is unusual; most countries have a much narrower concept of free speech that leaves governments substantial latitude to regulate content they regard as harmful. Still, a big question is how to crack down on harmful speech without unduly burdening the speech of legitimate users—or of unduly burdening the operators of smaller websites. Fundamentally, regulators have two options here. They can require online operators to take down content only after they've been notified of its existence, or they can require platforms to proactively monitor uploaded content. Current law Under the EU's E-Commerce Directive, current UK law shields online service providers from liability for content unless they have actual knowledge of its existence. But the UK government is now re-thinking that approach. "The existing liability regime only forces companies to take action against illegal content once they have been notified of its existence," the white paper says. "We concluded that standalone changes to the liability regime would be insufficient." Instead, the UK government says it's opting for a "more thorough approach," requiring technology companies to "ensure that they have effective and proportionate processes and governance in place to reduce the risk of illegal and harmful activity on their platforms." Of course, forcing technology companies to proactively monitor its platforms for objectionable content could create problems of their own, leading to unnecessary removal of legitimate content or eroding user privacy. UK regulators say there's no need to worry about this. "The regulator will not compel companies to undertake general monitoring of all communications on their online services, as this would be a disproportionate burden on companies and would raise concerns about user privacy," the document states. However, it says, there is "a strong case for mandating specific monitoring that targets where there is a threat to national security or the physical safety of children." Vague by design If that seems vague, that's by design. Rather than spelling out the precise obligations of online service providers in its initial proposal, the government plans to create a new regulatory agency and have it write up specific guidelines for the various types of unsavory content that could show up on technology platforms. Monday's publication of the online-harms white paper is just the first step to developing these new regulations. The public now has 12 weeks to comment on the proposal. The government will then take those comments into account as it drafts a final legislative proposal. If something like this proposal does become law, it could have significant impacts beyond the borders of the United Kingdom. The Internet is global, and we can expect the United Kingdom to demand that objectionable content be made inaccessible in the UK regardless of who originally uploaded it. In principle, major platforms could use geoblocking technology to prevent Britons from accessing objectionable content hosted in the United States or elsewhere. But technology companies may decide it's easier to just take down objectionable content for everyone—especially if other jurisdictions pass similar laws. As a result, America's strong free-speech tradition might become less and less relevant online, as online content policies are increasingly driven by countries with more activist approaches. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/04/uk-government-proposes-sweeping-new-regulations-of-online-content/
  4. The Prevalence of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Primary Antiphospholipid Syndrome Karin KLACK, 1 Vanessa MONMA, 1 Karina PELIÇARI, 2 Simone APPENZELLER, 2 Jozélio Freire de CARVALHO3 1Nutritional Division, Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo-SP, Brazil 2Rheumatology Division, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical Science, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, Brazil 3Rheumatology Division, Hospital das Clínicas da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo-SP, Brazil Abstract Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of subclinical and clinical iron deficiency with iron deficiency anemia in primary antiphospholipid syndrome (PAPS). Patients and methods: The study was comprised of 29 PAPS patients and 29 healthy controls matched for age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Participants received iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin C. A battery of tests was performed to determine the iron storage. The mean disease duration was 70±51.3 months in the patient group. Results: Iron storage depletion was observed in 10.3% of the individuals in both groups (p=0.5). Iron deficient erythropoiesis (IDE) was observed in only three PAPS patients (10.3%) (p<0.001). Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) was more common in the PAPS patients compared to controls (48.2% vs. 10.3%, respectively; p=0.009). The mean iron levels were significantly lower in the PAPS group than the controls (75.5 vs. 95.8, respectively; p=0.03). Red cell distribution width-coefficient of variation (RDW-CV) (14.9 vs. 13.2; p=0.02) and red cell distribution widthstandard deviation (RDW-SD) (46.7 vs. 40.5; p=0.009) were significantly increased in the patient group. The folic acid and vitamin C levels were lower in the PAPS group than the control group (p<0.05). Conclusion: This study showed for the first time that PAPS patients have a higher incidence of IDA and IDE compared to healthy controls. This can be attributed to inadequate ingestion of folic acid and vitamin C. Introduction Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is characterized by a state of hypercoagulability that can potentially result in thrombosis of all segments of the vessel system,[1-3] and various hematological pathologies, such as thrombocytopenia, autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), bone marrow necrosis (BMN), and thrombotic microangiopathy, have been connected with this syndrome.[1-3] However, the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia has never been investigated as it relates to primary antiphospholipid syndrome (PAPS). Iron deficiency is defined as a reduction in total body iron to an extent that iron stores are fully exhausted and some degree of tissue iron deficiency is present. In epidemiological studies, it has been common practice to determine the prevalence of both mild iron deficiency without anemia and more advanced irondeficiency anemia.[4] Although no increased risk of gastrointestinal (GI) malignancy has been observed in APS patients so far,[5] treatment with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) and oral anticoagulants may increase bleeding and iron loss in patients with subclinical GI disease. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of subclinical and clinical iron deficiency along with iron deficiency anemia in PAPS patients. Patients and Methods The study included 29 PAPS patients (25 females, 4 males; mean age 41±12 years) who had been routinely followed up at our facility and 29 healthy controls (23 females, 6 males; mean age 37±13 years) who were matched for age, gender, and socioeconomic status. We excluded patients with APS that was associated with other rheumatic conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), pregnant or breastfeeding patients, and those who had taken iron supplements during the previous year. All participants fulfilled the 1999 Sapporo and 2006 Sydney APS classification criteria.[6,7] In addition, the study was approved by the local ethics committee, and all participants gave their written consent for inclusion. Both groups were interviewed regarding their demographic characteristics (age, gender, socioeconomic status, and number of pregnancies, if female) and history of GI disease, and the subjects' nutritional aspects (ingestions of iron, folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin C) were assessed. The daily recommended amounts of these vitamins and minerals were based on the recommendations of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI).[8-10] To correctly assess the nutritional intake of the study participants, the open source software program Nutwin 1.5 (Federal University of Sao Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil) was used.[11] All of the subjects were submitted to the following battery of tests to determine their iron status: serum iron (Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Germany), total iron binding capacity (TIBC) (Labtest Diagnóstica SA, Lagoa Santa-Minas Gerais, Brazil), ferritin [enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL, USA], transferrin, indirect bilirubin, iron saturation, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), reticulocyte count, red blood cell count, hemoglobin levels, and hematocrit levels. Additionally, the patients also underwent tests concerning the following redcell indices: (i) mean corpuscular volume, (ii) mean corpuscular hemoglobin volume, (iii) mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, (iv) red distribution width (Abbott Cell Dyn 3000, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL, USA), (v) red distribution width-coefficient of variation (RDW-CV), and (vi) red distribution widthstandard deviation (RDW-SD). Iron deficiency was classified into three stages of increasing severity: (i) iron storage depletion as defined by low serum ferritin, (ii) mild iron deficiency without anemia based on laboratory evidence of iron deficient erythropoiesis (IDE), and (iii) overt iron deficiency anemia (IDA).[12] Low transferrin saturation and decreased mean corpuscular volume were used to measure the IDE.[12] In addition, all individuals were screened for occult blood loss after an adequate diet and had a fecal parasitological evaluation performed on three consecutive days. Statistical analysis The data was reported as mean ± standard deviation (SD) or percent. Variables were compared between the patients and controls using Student's t-test or a chisquare test. P values of <0.05 were considered to be significant. Results The patients and controls were statistically similar with regard to age (p=0.21) and gender (p=0.33). Primary antiphospholipid syndrome manifestations and treatment. The patients with PAPS had a mean disease duration of 70±51.3 months. Thrombotic venous events were observed in 72.4% of the patients, followed by arterial events in 55.2% and obstetric events in 44.8%. In addition, positive immunoglobulin G (IgG) anticardiolipin antibodies were observed in 48.3% of the patients, and positive lupus anticoagulant was seen in 41.4%. None of the controls had a history of thrombosis. An oral anticoagulant (warfarin) was used by 96.6% of the PAPS patients, and one patient was using low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) and acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). Additionally, 10 patients (34.5%) were taking prophylactic omeprazole. Iron metabolism and iron-deficiency anemia Iron storage depletion was observed in three individuals (10.3%) in both groups (p=0.5). Iron deficient erythropoiesis was seen only in three PAPS patients (10.3%) (p<0.001), and IDA was found in 14 PAPS patients (48.2%) while only three (10.3%; p=0.009) had this condition in the controls (Figure 1). Although, the hemoglobin levels were similar between the PAPS patients and controls (13.4±1.7 g/dL vs. 13.9±1.4 g/dL, respectively), microcytic changes were observed in 15 PAPS patients (51.7%) but only in one control subject (3.4%) (p=0.06). Figure 1. The prevalence of iron deficiency and anemia in the primary antiphospholipid syndrome patients and the controls. PAPS: Primary antiphospholipid syndrome; IDE: Iron deficient erythropoiesis; IDA: Iron deficiency anemia. The mean iron levels were significantly lower in the PAPS patients when compared with the healthy controls (75.5 vs. 95.8, respectively; p=0.03). Furthermore, the PAPS and healthy control groups were examined regarding the red distribution width-coefficient of variation (RDW-CV) (14.9 vs. 13.2, respectively; p=0.02) and red distribution width-standard deviation (RDW-SD) (46.7 vs. 40.5, respectively; p=0.009) were statistically higher in the PAPS patients. However, no differences were observed in the two groups related to the remaining iron metabolism variables and medications (Table 1). Table 1. A comparison of biochemical tests between the primary antiphospholipid syndrome patients and the controls Causes of iron loss Hypermenorrhea was identified in two PAPS patients (8.7%) but was not seen in the controls (p=0.07). Five PAPS patients (17.2%) and one of the control subjects (3.4%) had a prior history of GI disease, but none of the participants had a previous history of GI bleeding. All of the five PAPS patients were on prophylactic omeprazole treatment, and an occult blood test was positive for two of the five (6.9%), but all of the controls tested negative (p=0.07). Furthermore, feces parasitological tests were negative for Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanus, Ascaris lumbricoides, Giardia lamblia, Trichuris trichiura and Schistossoma mansoni for all of the individuals in the study. Regarding iron intake, we observed that 24 PAPS patients (82.7%) and 28 of the controls (96.5%) were getting adequate amounts of iron (p=0.08), and there was no difference seen between the patients with and without anemia. Folic acid intake was significantly lower in the PAPS group compared with the controls, and only four PAPS patients (13.8%) had adequate amounts of this mineral compared with 20 in the control group (68.9%) (p<0.001). Concerning vitamin B12, 24 PAPS patients (82.7%) and 27 controls (93.1%) had adequate amounts (p=0.2), and vitamin C intake was adequate in 10 PAPS patients (34.4%) and 24 of the controls (82.7%) (p<0.001). Moreover, the anemic PAPS patients had higher amounts of folic acid and vitamin C than those that were non-anemic (p<0.05). Discussion To our knowledge, this was the first study to demonstrate that PAPS patients have IDA and IDE compared with healthy controls. Most iron in the body circulates as hemoglobin and is recycled in red cell senescence. One gram is stored in the liver, and 0.4 g in the myoglobin and cytochromes. Additionally, small amounts (3 mg) circulate that are bound to plasma transferrin.[13] Men and nonmenstruating women lose about 1 mg of body iron per day, and menstruating women may lose an additional 1 mg daily on average.[13] Dietary iron comes from a better absorbed animal source (heme-iron) and cereal and vegetable sources (non-heme iron)[13] and is absorbed by the intestinal luminal cells through a specific transporter and released into the circulation, binding to transferrin.[13] Transferrin receptors on erythroblasts bind the iron-transferrin complexes, which then undergo endocytosis. Afterwards, the iron is incorporated into the hemoglobin.[13] Iron deficiency occurs when there are iron losses or when requirements exceed absorption, and it is often multifactorial.[13-15] Blood loss is the most important cause of iron deficiency in adults as each milliliter that is lost translates into a corresponding loss of approximately 0.5 mg of iron.[15] More specifically, GI blood loss is the most important culprit in men and postmenopausal women. While menstrual blood loss is known to lead to IDA in premenopausal women, coexistent GI lesions also frequently occur. We identified hypermenorrhea in two of the PAPS patients in our study and occult blood loss in five others in the PAPS group; however, these findings were not statistically different from the controls. In addition, both women who had hypermenorrhea also had IDE, and the two patients with occult blood loss had IDA and were sent for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. Malabsorption of iron may be caused by intestinal mucosal disorders (most frequently coeliac disease), impaired gastric acid secretion (including the use of proton pump inhibitors), and gastric/intestinal bypass procedures.[13-15] Omeprazole was being used by 10 patients in this study, five of whom had a prior history of GI diseases, and three had IDA. We identified a significant reduction in folic acid and vitamin C intake in the PAPS patients versus the controls. In addition, anemic patients had lower amounts of folic acid and vitamin C than those who were non-anemic. Our PAPS patients and controls were matched for socioeconomic status. Although low socioeconomic status was not a risk factor for IDA in the women who had never been pregnant, it was for pregnant women due to their increased iron demands.[13] In conclusion, we believe that this is the first study to evaluate the prevalence of IDA and IDE in patients with PAPS. Although no endoscopic or colonoscopic investigations were performed to identify the source of occult blood loss, impaired iron absorption caused by omeprazole usage and lower folic acid and vitamin C intake amounts could contribute to these findings. We suggest that PAPS patients undergo a routine analysis of their hemoglobin levels, and when iron deficiency is suspected, adequate investigation should be performed. Moreover, patients should be advised about sufficient vitamin intake, especially folic acid and vitamin C. Acknowledgments The authors would like to acknowledge the help of Dr Appenzeller: Fundação Apoio À Pesquisa Estado São Paulo-Brasil (FAPESP 2008/02917-0 and 2009/06049-6), Conselho Nacional Pesquisa Desenvolvimento-Brasil CNPq (300447/2009-4) and Dr. Carvalho: Federico Foundation and CNPq (300665/2009-1). Declaration of conflicting interests The authors declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article. Funding The authors received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article. References Uthman I, Godeau B, Taher A, Khamashta M. The hematologic manifestations of the antiphospholipid syndrome. Blood Rev 2008;22:187-94. doi: 10.1016/j. blre.2008.03.005. Khamashta MA, Bertolaccini ML, Hughes GR. Antiphospholipid (Hughes) syndrome. Autoimmunity 2004;37:309-12. Vermylen J, Carreras LO, Arnout J. Attempts to make sense of the antiphospholipid syndrome. J Thromb Haemost 2007;5:1-4. Epub 2006. Cook JD. Diagnosis and management of irondeficiency anaemia. Best Pract Res Clin Haematol 2005;18:319-32. Tincani A, Taraborelli M, Cattaneo R. Antiphospholipid antibodies and malignancies. Autoimmun Rev 2010;9:200-2. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2009.04.001. Miyakis S, Lockshin MD, Atsumi T, Branch DW, Brey RL, Cervera R, et al. International consensus statement on an update of the classification criteria for definite antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). J Thromb Haemost 2006;4:295-306. Miyakis S, Lockshin MD, Atsumi T, Branch DW, Brey RL, Cervera R, et al. International consensus statement on an update of the classification criteria for definite antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). J Thromb Haemost 2006;4:295-306. Dietary Reference Intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. National Agricultural Library. United States Departament of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Information Center; 1998 Available from: http://www.nal. usda.gov/fnic/DRI//DRI_Thiamin/thiamin_full_report.pdf Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids. National Agricultural Library. United States Departament of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Information Center; 2000 Available from: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI/DRI_Vitamin_C/ vitamin_c_full_report.pdf Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. National Agricultural Library. United States Departament of Agriculture. Food and Nutrition Information Center; 2001 Available from: http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/DRI//DRI_ Vitamin_A/vitamin_a_full_report.pdf Nutwin – Programa de Apoio à Nutrição. Departamento de Informática em Saúde. DIS-UNIFESP/EPM. Universidade Federal de São Paulo - Versão 1.5, 2002. Cook J. The nutritional assessment of iron status. Arch Latinoam Nutr 1999;49:11S-14S. Pasricha SR, Flecknoe-Brown SC, Allen KJ, Gibson PR, McMahon LP, Olynyk JK, et al. Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anaemia: a clinical update. Med J Aust 2010;193:525-32. Killip S, Bennett JM, Chambers MD. Iron deficiency anemia. Am Fam Physician 2007;75:671-8. Cook JD. Diagnosis and management of iron-deficiency anaemia. Best Pract Res Clin Haematol 2005;18:319-32. https://www.archivesofrheumatology.org/full-text/509.
  5. An Increased Risk of Dementia Possible in Lupus Stephanie Pappas Jul 13, 2016 Neuropsychiatric symptoms have long been known to affect some patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. But now, emerging evidence suggests that lupus patients may be at increased risk of dementia, as well. A retrospective study published in April in the journal Arthritis Care and Research used the Taiwan Longitudinal Health Insurance Database 2005, a random sampling of the 99.9 percent of Taiwanese citizens covered by the country's national health insurance, to compare dementia rates in people with systemic lupus erythematosus to age- and sex-matched patients without the autoimmune disease. The analysis revealed a doubled rate of dementia in SLE patients. There were 357 cases per 100,00 person-years in the lupus cohort, compared with 180 cases per 100,000 person-years in the non-SLE cohort. {Crude hazard ratio 1.92, 95 percent CI, 1.14−3.23, P< 0.001.) Dementia is a condition of gradual decline, while neuropsychiatric SLE usually manifests early in the diagnosis, wrote study author Dr. Yu-Ru Lin of Taipei Medical Hospital and colleagues. Antiphospholipid antibodies might put patients at risk of micro-stroke, they hypothesized. Alternatively, anatomical changes in the brain attributable to the disease or corticosteroid treatments may contribute to cognitive decline. Rheumatology Network spoke with Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld, an autoimmunity researcher at Tel Aviv University in Israel, for a deeper look at the dementia-lupus connection. Though not involved with the Taiwanese study, Dr. Shoenfeld has conducted research on lupus autoantibodies and has written about neuropsychiatric lupus in the clinic. He provided his perspective on the need to better understand how lupus might affect the brain. RN: Obviously, neurologic symptoms are well-known in systemic lupus erythematosus. What is the difference between central nervous system lupus and dementia? Shoenfeld: There are neurological, physical findings and also X-ray findings in which you see defects in neurological functions, mainly nerves which can be motor or sensory or so forth. It can be represented by conversions. It can be represented by paralysis. It can be presented as paresthesia, which means it feels like ants are going on your body. So it's more in the domain of physical examination. Dementia is more that you lose your capacity for cognition, memory or so forth. You cannot detect it by X-rays, but you can detect it by talking to the patient and listening to him and you can see that he's not finding himself, I would say, in space. So this is a big difference. What is new about this study by Lin and colleagues? So far we knew that CNS lupus is quite common, 20 percent of the patients can suffer from that. There are many manifestations of CNS lupus from paralysis to conversion, from deafness to blindness, from paresthesia to pains and so forth. Dementia up until now was not part of the story of lupus - neither in regular lupus nor in CNS lupus. We did have psychotic attack in CNS lupus, which could be completely resolved upon proper therapy, for instance with corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs. Suddenly, there is dementia. Now, I want to remind you that lupus is a disease of young females, so it's not elderly females with dementia at this age. So the people who published the paper came with the idea that in those patients with CNS lupus, you can find, eventually, more dementia, which is a new revelation, not known so far. With my colleague, Professor Howard Amital [of Sheba Medical Center], an expert on Big Data — we asked the computer to cross the word dementia with SLE in a health database, but we did something else in this respect. We compared it to two other autoimmune diseases. I have to say that, to my great surprise, we have found also that patients with SLE have a threefold increase in dementia. We were not able so far to segregate it to the different factor that we would like to, but we found also with rheumatoid, there was an increase. There was no increase, for instance, in Behcet's syndrome. So most probably, these results are correct, and they should raise a red light. We will analyze our results and we will publish it very soon. But I think it's interesting, even though I had not believed this when I had received the paper from you. What kind of mechanisms might explain why there could be this link? When you have an organic damage to the brain, being autoimmune in nature, being the position of autoantibodies, being the position of other factors it causes chronic damage to the brain and eventually, there is some kind expression that above this threshold it can cause the psychological defects which are expressed as dementia. It's like accumulating damage. Given what is known right now, what is the message for practicing rheumatologists? Before we do anything with patients, we should confirm the results and indeed analyze what could be the mechanism and then eventually work on this to see how we could prevent this. Maybe, for instance, a very quick recovery should be installed whenever there are any signs of CNS lupus. We have to see if, indeed, it's limited only to patients with CNS lupus. There is a lot to analyze now, to learn, to study and to draw conclusions for the future. References: Lin Y-R, Chou L-C, Chen H-C, Liou T-H, Huang S-W, Lin H-W. "Increased risk of dementia in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: A nationwide population-based cohort study." Arthritis Care & Research. 2016. doi:10.1002/acr.22914. Kivity S, Agmon-Levin N, Zandman-Goddard G, Chapman J, Shoenfeld Y. "Neuropsychiatric lupus: a mosaic of clinical presentations." BMC Medicine BMC Med. 2015;13(1):43. doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0269-8. https://www.rheumatologynetwork.com/lupus/increased-risk-dementia-possible-lupus
  6. Stem Cells Have Promise for SLE Treatment Across Ethnicities, Proof-of-concept Study Shows FEBRUARY 6, 2019 BY MARISA WEXLER IN NEWS. Click Here to receive Lupus News via e-mail A new proof-of-concept study supports the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), showing that transplanting MSCs can control the disease in patients from different ethnicities. The study, “Therapeutic potential of allogeneic mesenchymal stromal cells transplantation for lupus nephritis,” was published in Lupus. MSCs are cells that are able to differentiate (transform) into certain other types of cells, including bone, muscle, and fat cells. These cells are thought to have potential as treatments for SLE because they can reduce bone loss and inflammation in mouse models. However, there is limited data about how well MSC therapy works in humans. There have been a few studies with promising results, but these have come almost entirely from centers in China, meaning the patients are share the same ethnic background. In this proof-of-concept study, MSC therapy was used for three patients in Spain. Two of the patients were male Spanish Caucasians; the third was a Bolivian female of indigenous descent. All patients had been diagnosed with SLE for more than a decade and, at the time of treatment, had flare-ups that were not being well-controlled with standard therapies. MSCs were taken from the bone marrows of healthy donors, purified, expanded, and then infused into patients intravenously at a dose of 1.5 million cells per kilogram of body weight — an average of 90 million cells per patient. The patients were followed for nine months. Researchers assessed markers of inflammation and immune activity, as well as markers of kidney function like the amount of protein in their urine. Kidneys are often targets of the body’s autoimmune attack in SLE, and damage to them can be a serious issue in this disease. The researchers also measured disease severity using the SLE Disease Activity Index 2000. All three patients responded to treatment with MSCs. Two had complete responses, with decreased inflammatory markers, signs of better kidney function, and lower disease score that were sustained over the entire nine-month follow-up period. The third was only deemed a partial response, but was still an improvement, and dosages of other medications could be reduced by 50% to 90% for all the patients. The researchers reported there were no adverse side effects or safety problems associated with the patients receiving the MSC therapy. There also was no evidence that the MSCs were being rejected by the body, which can be a concern for these types of therapies. “Our results confirm the successful results of MSC treatments in SLE patients performed in different ethnic groups and locations,” the researchers concluded in their paper, also noting that the findings support the prompt implementation of a Phase 2 clinical trial testing the approach in a larger group of patients. The trial (2017-000391-28), already approved by the Spanish Medicines Agency, will include 36 patients with lupus nephritis (a common kidney inflammation in SLE patients) and randomly assign them an infusion with MSCs or a placebo. The trial’s main objective is to determine if more patients respond to MSCs. Secondary measures include the time to response, duration of response, safety, and reductions in use of corticosteroids and immunosuppressants. https://lupusnewstoday.com/2019/02/06/study-stem-cells-promise-sle-treatment-across-ethnicities/?utm_source=LUP+NEws+E-mail+List&amp;utm_campaign=1e70fc3e85-RSS_WEEKLY_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_US&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_50dac6e56f-1e70fc3e85-71887989
  7. SLE Patients at Higher Risk for Some Blood Cancers, Study Says FEBRUARY 18, 2019 BY JOANA CARVALHO IN NEWS. Click Here to receive Lupus News via e-mail Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients have a higher risk for certain cancers — including cervical, thyroid, ovarian, and oral cancer, as well as lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and leukemia — than the general population, emphasizing the importance of cancer screening programs as part of SLE management. The findings of the study, “Systemic lupus erythematosus is a risk factor for cancer: a nationwide population-based study in Korea,” were published in Lupus. SLE, the most prevalent form of lupus, is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by behavioral and psychological symptoms including pain, fatigue, depression, and impaired cognition. Previous studies have suggested that SLE patients are more likely to be affected by certain types of cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung, liver, and vaginal cancer. “However, some studies have found a decreased risk of some hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer, in SLE patients. However, whether patients with SLE have increased or decreased risk of breast cancer remains unclear,” the researchers said. In this study, investigators set out to characterize the relationship between SLE and cancer in the entire Korean population. The nationwide, retrospective, cohort study involved 21,016 SLE patients and 105,080 age- and sex-matched controls without SLE. The cohort was selected from the Korean National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) database between 2008 and 2014. Over a follow-up period of seven years, 763 (3.36%) SLE patients and 2,667 (2.54%) controls developed cancer. The incidence risk of cancer was higher in SLE patients compared to controls (6.427 vs 4.466). Incidence risk refers to the chance of a disease happening over a defined period of time. After accounting for age and sex, SLE patients showed a 44% higher risk of developing cancer. No differences in cancer risk were found between female and male SLE patients. SLE patients at higher risk for cancer were younger (under 40) and male, being 12 and 29 times more likely of developing lymphoma than control subjects. Looking at different cancer types, researchers found that SLE patients were more likely to develop cervical, thryoid, ovarian, and oral cancer, as well as lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma than controls. On the other hand, no significant differences in the risk of stomach, colorectal, liver, pancreatic, lung, breast, prostate, biliary, laryngeal, renal, bladder, nerve, and skin cancer were found between SLE patients and controls. While the mechanisms leading to increased risk of cancer in SLE patients are yet to be fully understood, the findings highlight the need for cancer screening programs among this patient population. “In conclusion, SLE is an independent risk factor for malignancy, especially cervical, thyroid, ovarian, oral … as well as lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and leukemia. The importance of cancer screening programs should be emphasized in SLE patients,” the scientists concluded. https://lupusnewstoday.com/2019/02/18/sle-patients-may-be-at-higher-risk-of-developing-certain-types-of-cancer/?utm_source=LUP+NEws+E-mail+List&amp;utm_campaign=1e70fc3e85-RSS_WEEKLY_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_US&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=0_50dac6e56f-1e70fc3e85-71887989
  8. Congratulations and Many Thanks to Lady Gaga! To the entire world, Lady Gaga is a winner. But to the lupus community she’s a hero. Last night at the 2019 Grammy’s, she won an award for Best Pop Solo in honor of her aunt Joanne who lost her battle with lupus at 19. Afterwards she tweeted: Lady Gaga has shared the song’s significance on social media. “I have carried a deep grief in my heart over my family’s tragedy. The loss of Joanne affected my father so deeply that it affected me. When he cried, I cried. When he was angry, I was angry. When he was hurt, I hurt. Today I transform this grief to hope and healing. After 10 years with you I still get nervous before the Grammys, but I know I have an angel with me.” Hear about lupus research from Lady Gaga's dad And watch this video to hear directly from Lady Gaga’s dad, Joe Germanotta, about why he has honoured his sister by actively supporting the Lupus Research Alliance. As a member of our Board of Directors, Joe believes that the research funded by the Lupus Research Alliance is where hope begins. Where our funded research discoveries are breaking through to deliver better treatments and a cure!
  9. Lupus: 3 Things to Know Mark L. Fuerst Dec 3, 2018 Lupus Three new studies in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) reveal that a gut bacterium may be linked to autoimmune diseases, including SLE; pregnancy complications in women with lupus have decreased over the past 2 decades; and physical or emotional abuse in childhood raises the risk of lupus.1-3Scroll through the slides for the latest findings and their clinical implications. http://www.rheumatologynetwork.com/lupus/lupus-3-things-know
  10. lupusnewstoday.com/2019/01/18/rubella-immunity-lowers-vaccinated-lupus-adolescents/ Jose Marques Lopes, PhDJanuary 18, 2019 Vaccinated patients with highly active systemic lupus erythematosus seem to lose their immunity levels over time, a study in rubella-vaccinated adolescents suggests. The study, “Risk factors associated with accelerated rubella-IgG antibody loss in previously vaccinated, treatment-naïve juvenile Systemic Lupus Erythematosus patients: a prospective study,” was published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology. Patients with SLE are at risk for infections, including those that are preventable by vaccines, due to the alterations in their immune system and the immunosuppressive treatments they receive. SLE particularly affects women of childbearing age. Rubella infection during pregnancy is associated with severe neonatal complications, including miscarriage, congenital rubella syndrome, and neonatal death. As a result, knowing the immune status against rubella in at-risk SLE patients is important. Researchers from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece looked to address this, focusing their study on previously vaccinated adolescents with juvenile SLE (jSLE). They also wanted to find potential factors affecting antibody levels. In total, the study included 21 newly diagnosed girls with jSLE, with a mean age of 11.6 years. All of them had had two doses of the live attenuated MMR — measles, mumps, and rubella — vaccine in early childhood. No patients had underlying immunodeficiency, a blood transfusion within the previous six months, or prior treatment with immunomodulatory therapies. Seroprotection — a positive, protective response to vaccination — and levels of rubella antibodies were determined at enrollment and at one and three years after treatment. Results revealed that while patients remained protected from rubella infection at all times, the amount of antibodies against the virus significantly decreased over time, from 39.1 IU/ml at diagnosis to 29.9 IU/mL at one year and 26.2 IU/mL at three years. No patients showed low total antibody levels or renal insufficiency. High SLE disease activity — assessed with the SLE disease activity index, or SLEDAI — and low levels of the complement protein C4 — a common SLE marker — were associated with lower rubella antibody concentrations at diagnosis and at 12 months. Findings further revealed that skin involvement and persistent lymphopenia and leukopenia — having abnormally low blood levels of lymphocytes or leukocytes (white blood cells), respectively — at one year directly correlated to lower rubella antibody concentrations. “In conclusion, high disease activity strongly correlated with accelerated antibody loss,” the investigators wrote, adding that lower antibody levels may be due to SLE, its activity, or medications. They also noted that although more studies are needed to assess long-term immunity induced by vaccinations in children with autoimmune diseases, “close monitoring of the immunization status against vaccine-preventable diseases in this group of patients is advised.” The team cautioned that the small number of patients precluded finding differences among the different treatment groups.
  11. Dietary Supplements and Homeopathy Are Not Tested for Safety and Effectiveness Posted by Kathleen Hoffman on Dec 17, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments On October 30, 2018, the FDA sent a letter to the American Botanical Pharmacy and “Dr.” Richard Schulze – whose “doctorate is in herbology”- stating, Yet on December 8, 2018, the website still had this question and answer posted. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body destroys the beta cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. Lifestyle changes and using supplements will not cure Type I diabetes. Although the company removed items from the FDA’s detailed list of violations, they still missed this and several other claims of cures with the use of their dietary supplement products. Use of Supplements and Homeopathy More than half of the US adult population consume dietary supplements. The dietary supplement industry today is a $35.9 billion a year market and is estimated to grow by 20 billion dollars in the next six years.3 Around six million people in the US use homeopathy, one million of them are children. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that these products are regulated as food. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, passed in 1994, allows these products to be sold without testing for safety or effectiveness and without information on adverse effects or packaging that is child-resistant.4 Distrust of the pharmaceutical industry and an interest in taking control of one’s health are just a couple of the reasons people choose dietary supplements and homeopathy. Unfortunately, dietary supplements and homeopathy are being actively promoted on the Internet in lieu of regulated, mainstream treatments. Many of these supplements have serious drawbacks. Recent research found that 746 dietary supplement brands from between 2007 and 2016 contained active pharmaceutical drugs, like steroids.5 Teething tablets by Hyland’s Homeopathic were recently discovered to contained belladonna nightshade, a poisonous plant. Linked to deaths of babies last year, the FDA warned consumers not to use these products.6 Hepatotoxicity is a principle safety issue for as many as 60 herbal supplements. Green tea contains ECGC, an antioxidant that is toxic for liver cells. Green tea based herbal supplements containing other ingredients have been implicated in liver damage requiring liver transplant.7 It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that a 2015 study of emergency room visits in the US estimated that over 23,000 emergency department visits per year can be attributed to adverse events caused by dietary supplements. These visits resulted in an estimated 2,154 hospitalizations.8 It’s important to be careful and wary of what is advertised as supplements. Remembering that the FDA does not test these products for safety or effectiveness before they are sold to you. It is only when a problem arises and the FDA is notified, that warnings and recalls occur. Check out Meat Packers and Patent Medicines: Welcome to Life before the FDA References 1 https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm627164.htm 2 https://www.herbdoc.com/blog/is-diabetes-curablec.oup.com/jnci/article/110/1/121/4064136 3 https://www.statista.com/statistics/828481/total-dietary-supplements-market-size-in-the-us/ 4 https://ods.od.nih.gov/About/DSHEA_Wording.aspx 5 doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.3337 6 https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm230762.htm 7 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.05.022 8 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa1504267 https://medivizor.com/blog/2018/12/17/dietary-supplements-and-homeopathy/?utm_campaign=website&amp;utm_source=sendgrid.com&amp;utm_medium=email
  12. Cannabinoids for RA: What Rheumatologists Need to Know Linda Peckel Nov 12, 2018 Studies indicate the benefits of treatment with cannabinoids for rheumatic diseases in general.1-3 In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the target of cannabinoid therapy has been pain reduction. Clinical data do not currently support an indication for reduction of disease severity, although new studies continue to explore this potential. References: 1. Katz-Talmor D, Katz I, Porat-Katz BS, Shoenfeld Y. Cannabinoids for the treatment of rheumatic diseases - where do we stand? Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2018 Jun 8. doi: 10.1038/s41584-018-0025-5. [Epub ahead of print] 2. Gui H, Tong Q, Qu W, Mao CM, Dai SM. The endocannabinoid system and its therapeutic implications in rheumatoid arthritis. Int Immunopharmacol. 2015;26:86-91. 3. Richards BL, Whittle SL, Buchbinder R. Neuromodulators for pain management in rheumatoid arthritis (review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;1:CD008921. http://www.rheumatologynetwork.com/arthritis/cannabinoids-ra-what-rheumatologists-need-know?rememberme=1&amp;elq_mid=4976&amp;elq_cid=1830808
  13. Admin

    GDPR

    Your GDPR questions answered Individual Rights The right to be informed Invision Community has a built in privacy policy system that is presented to a new user, and existing users when it has been updated. What should your privacy policy contain? I personally like the look of SEQ Legal's framework which is available for free. This policy covers the important points such as which cookies are collected, how personal information is used and so on. There may be other services out there offering similar templates. Right to erasure I personally feel that everyone should listen to "A Little Respect" as it's not only a cracking tune, but also carries a wonderful message. The GDPR document however relates to the individuals right to be forgotten. Invision Community allows you to delete members. When deleting members, you can elect to remove their content too. There is an option to keep it as Guest content, thus removing the author as identifiable. It's worth using the 'keep' option after researching the user's posts to make sure they haven't posted personal information such as where they live, etc. Emailing and Consent Invision Community has the correct opt-in for bulk emails on registration that is not pre-checked. If the user checks this option, this is recorded with the member's history. Likewise, if they retract this permission, that action is also recorded. When you edit the terms and conditions or privacy policy, all users are required to read it again and opt-in again. Cookies A lot of GDPR anxiety seems to revolve around these tiny little text files your browser stores. If you read the GDPR document (and who doesn't love a little light reading) then you'll see that very little has actually changed with cookies. It extends current data protection guidance a little to ensure that you are transparent about which cookies you store. Invision Community has tools to create a floating cookie opt-in bar, and also a page showing which cookies are stored and why. This is the page that you'd edit to add any cookies your installation sets (if you have enabled Facebook's Pixel, or Google Analytics for example). Your GDPR Questions Now let's look at some questions that have been asked on our community and I'll do my best to provide some guidance that should help you make decisions on how to configure your Invision Community to suit your needs. Alan!! Is the soft opt-in cookie policy enough? What about the IP address stored in the session cookie? Great question. There's conflicting advise out there about this. The GDPR document states: The ICO states that session cookies stored for that session only (so they are deleted when the tab / window is closed) are OK as long as they are not used to profile users. This is re-enforced by EUROPA: My feeling is that GDPR isn't really out to stop you creating a functioning website, they are more interested in how you store and use this information. Thus, I feel that storing a session cookie with an IP address is OK. The user is told what is being stored and instructions are given if they want to delete them. Given the internet is very much driven by IP addresses, I fail to see how you can not collect an IP address in some form or another. They are collected in access logs deep in the server OS. Finally, there is a strong legitimate interest in creating a session cookie. It's part and parcel of the website's function and the cookie is not used in any 'bad' way. It just allows guests and members to retain preferences and update "last seen" times to help deliver content. Do I need to delete all the posts by a member if they ask me to? We have many large clients in the EU with really impressive and expensive legal teams and they are all unanimous in telling us that there is no requirement to delete content when deleting a user's personal information. The analogy often given is with email: once someone sends you an email you are not obligated to delete that. The same is true with content posted by a user: once they post that content it's no longer "owned" by them and is now out in public. Ultimately, the decision is yours but do not feel that you have to delete their content. This is not a GDPR requirement. What about members who haven't validated? They're technically not members but we're still holding their data! No problem. The system does delete un-validated users and incomplete users automatically for you. You can even set the time delay for deletion in the ACP. What about RECAPTCHA? I use this, and it technically collects some data! Just add that you use this service to your privacy policy, like so: I see many companies emailing out asking for members to opt back in for bulk mail, do I need to do this? Short answer: No. Since Invision Community 4.0, you can only ever bulk email users that have opted in for bulk emails. There's no way around it, so there's nothing to ask them to opt-in for. They've already done it. There is a tiny wrinkle in that pre 4.2.7, the opt-in was pre-checked as was the norm for most websites. Moving forward, GDPR asks for explicit consent, so this checkbox cannot be pre-ticked (and isn't in Invision Community 4.2.7 and later). However, the ICO is clear that if the email list has a legitimate interest, and was obtained with soft opt-in, then you don't need to ask again for permission. What about notifications? They send emails! Yes they do, but that's OK. A notification is only ever sent after a user chooses to follow an item. This falls under legitimate interest. There is also a clear way to stop receiving emails. The user can opt-in and opt-out of email as a notification device at their leisure. Do I need to stop blocking embeds and external images? No. The internet is based on cross-linking of things and sharing information. At a very fundamental level, it's going to be incredibly hard to prevent it from happening. Removing these engaging and enriching tools are only going to make your community suffer. There's no harm in adding a few lines in your privacy policy explaining that the site may feature videos from Vimeo and Youtube as part of user contributions but you do not need to be worried. As stated earlier, GDPR isn't about sucking the fun out of the internet, it's about being responsible and transparent. Phew. Hopefully you've got a better understanding about how Invision Community can assist your GDPR compliance efforts. The best bit of advice is to not panic. If you have any questions, we'd love to hear them. Drop us a line below. Edited May 12 by Matt GDPR updates for Invision Community 4.3.3 Unless you've been living under a rock, or forgot to opt-in to the memo, GDPR is just around the corner. Last week we wrote a blog answering your questions on becoming GDPR compliant with Invision Community. We took away a few good points from that discussion and have the following updates coming up for Invision Community 4.3.3 due early next week. Downloading Personal Data Invision Community already has a method of downloading member data via the member export feature that produces a CSV. However, we wanted Invision Community to be more helpful, so we've added a feature that downloads personal data (such as name, email address, known IP addresses, known devices, opt in details and customer data from Nexus if you're using that) in a handy XML format which is very portable and machine readable. You can access this feature via the ACP member view The download itself is in a standard XML format. A sample export Pruning IP Addresses While there is much debate about whether IP addresses are personal information or not, a good number of our customers requested a way to remove IP addresses from older content. There are legitimate reasons to store IP addresses for purchase transactions (so fraud can be detected), for security logs (to prevent hackers gaining access) and to prevent spammers registering. However, under the bullet point of not storing information for longer than is required, we have added this feature to remove IP addresses from posted content (reviews, comments, posts, personal messages, etc) after a threshold. The default is 'Never', so don't worry. Post upgrade you won't see IP addresses removed unless you enter a value. This new setting is under Posting Deleting Members Invision Community has always had a way to delete a member and retain their content under a "Guest" name. We've cleaned this up in 4.3.3. When you delete a member, but want to retain their content, you are offered an option to anonymise this. Choosing this option attributes all posted content to 'Guest' and removes any stored IP addresses. Deleting a member Privacy Policy We've added a neat little feature to automatically list third parties you use on your privacy policy. If you enable Google Analytics, or Facebook Pixel, etc, these are added for you. The new setting Finding Settings Easily To make life a little easier, we've added "GDPR" as a live search keyword for the ACP. Simply tap that into the large search bar and Invision Community will list the relevant settings you may want to change. These changes show our ongoing commitment to helping you with your GDPR compliance. We'll be watching how GDPR in practise unfolds next month and will continue to adapt where required.
  14. Today, is World Lupus Day! Join Us and tell your story!
  15. Admin

    Tabbles

    I have been using Tabbles since it started and seen how it has developed. Its developer, Andrea, is someone who takes customer support very seriously. Whenever I have had a query or report a bug, he responds quickly. In addition, he has been very generous and has donated Tabbles to help me in my research. I am an academic researcher, which means reading hundreds of articles for a project. It's easy to create a new project, or container/virtual folder for the project, but each article may have aspects which can be tagged separately. For example, I am beginning a new project on contemporary racism. I created a new Tabble called Racism, which I colour coded - just as I used to do when I used cards for my research at university. I have hundreds of articles, from other projects, which are suitable for this project. It's easy to drop these into this new Tabble, from completed projects. At the same time, I can tag them to remind me they were also part of another Tabble or project. Many of the articles or information can be combined & Tabbles allows me to view these by using the "plus" sign.Thus,I can open the Racism Tabble & open two or more files at the same time. This "combine" feature means I can group together certain articles. For example, I might have a folder, within the Racism Tabble, called 19th century. Within this, I might want to put certain articles relating to 19th century. I can open & "combine" this specific information, from the articles, on nationalism in Germany. I might have a paper that I recall is a PDF & I can click on "New extension-tabble" because Tabbles automatically notes the extension of the file and locate the PDF. As I use the web for my research, Tabbles has a feature for the browser. I predominantly use Chrome and this means I can tag these articles for future reference. Every time I save an article, Tabbles lets me "tag" it via a pop-up my desktop.I can even create another Tabble or virtual folder, if necessary. As I research on the web, I can also use Tabbles to store its contents via tagging. One of the best features is to tag a file/article based, for example, on its "name". For this, Tabbles has a system called "auto-tagging" using the auto-tagging rule editor. Each time an article/file has the word "racism" I can use Tabbles to put it into "Racism" Tabble; a pop-up will allow the one-click tagging system in Tabbles. Without Tabbles, research would take much longer. You don't have to learn relational databases as Tabbles is intuitive. I cannot recommend Tabbles enough. I would be lost without it. If you are interested, you can find Tabbles here: http://tabbles.net/ ...
  16. Admin

    TABBLES 5

    I want to extend my thanks to Andrea at Tabbles: http://tabbles.net/quick-intro/ What is Tabbles, in a few words? Tabbles is a tagging software that allows to tag any kind of file, emails (in Outlook), and bookmarks. It helps you to tag and organize your files independently from folders and find them when you don’t remember where they are, but only what they are about. Tabbles allows you to combine tags with a few mouse clicks, immediately finding the file, regardlessly of what folder or disk it is stored on. It even tells you what drive you need to connect, in case the file is archived on a disconnected drive. A tabble is a both a tag and a virtual folder Tabbles are tags that you apply to files and other data; but they are also special folders, because they can be combined, intersected and subtracted from each other, to create dynamic combinations of files. You can put files in as many tabbles as you want, without duplicating them. No disk space will be wasted. The magic starts when you try to open the tabble and combine it with other tabbles, to find what you need in a natural way, without the need to know which directory or drive contains the files you need. You can also define powerful rules to tag files automatically. You can also define powerful rules to tag files automatically. Tags can be combined, allowing to find a file in many different paths The combine function allows you to find files and other documents by describing them the way you find more natural. Tabbles adapts to the way you think, allowing to find a file in many different paths. For example, you can reach the same file by clicking Pictures > John smith > vacations > beach or by clicking Year 2010 > Trip > India > John Smith > Mary Evans, even though that file only has a single physical path, like “Y:\archived\2010\Trip-to-india\Camera\BR0000223”. A physical path which you most likely do not remember! Add to all this that the drive containing the file is probably disconnected, and you would have to attach all your drives in sequence to find the file. In short, with Tabbles you get the power of a relational database and the usability of a pocket calculator! Share your tagging and collaborate In a corporate environment with many users and machines, users can share some or all of their tags, so that each user can find files based on tags applied by colleagues. Tabbles stores its tags into a Microsoft SQL Server databases, and allows for tag-sharing on local drives, shared drives as well as on cloud sync folder (like Dropbox, OneDrive etc.). The system administrator can manage users, sharing groups permissions and licenses via an Admin control panel.
  17. Invision Community 4.3 We are happy to announce the new Invision Community 4.3 is nearly available! Here is the list of what's new and we will follow up with individual blog entries going into detail about each new feature every couple days over the next few weeks. There will be a public preview in late January and we should go to public beta soon after that. Keep an eye on our blog for updates! Some highlights in Invision Community 4.3 include... Improved Search We now support Elasticsearch for scalable and accurate searching that MySQL alone cannot provided. There are also enhancements to the overall search interfaces based on your feedback. Emoji Express yourself with native emoji support in all editors. You can also keep your custom emoticons as you have now. Member Management The AdminCP interface to manage your members is all new allowing you easier control and management of your membership. Automatic Community Moderation You as the administrator set up rules to define how many unique member reports a piece of content needs to receive before it's automatically hidden from view and moderators notified. Clubs The new Clubs feature has been a huge hit with Invision Community users and we are expanding it to include invite-only options, notifications, exposure on the main community pages, paid memberships, and more. Custom Email Footers Your community generates a lot of email and you can now include dynamic content in the footer to help drive engagement and content discovery. New Gallery Interface We have reworked our Gallery system with a simplified upload process and more streamlined image viewing. The full list follows. Enjoy! Content Discovery We now support Elasticsearch which is a search utility that allows for much faster and more reliable searching. The REST API now supports search functions. Both MySQL and Elasticsearch have new settings for the admin to use to set search-defaults and default content weighting to better customize search logic to your community. Visitors can now search for Content Pages and Commerce Products. When entering a search term, members now see a more clear interface so they know what areas they are searching in and the method of search. Member Engagement Commerce can now send a customizable account welcome email after checkout. You can whitelist emails in the spam service to stop false-positives. REST API has many enhancements to mange members. Ability to join any OAuth service for login management. Invision Community can now be an OAuth endpoint. Wordpress OAuth login method built in. Support for Google's Invisible ReCaptcha. Groups can be excluded from Leaderboard (such as admins or bot groups). All emails generated by Invision Community can now contain admin-defined extra promotional text in the footer such as recent topics, Our Picks, and more. Admins can now define the order of Complete Your Profile to better control user experience. Clubs Option to make a Club visible but invite-only Admins can set an option so any Club a member is part of will also show in the parent application. So if you are in a Club that has a Gallery tab then those image will show both in the Club and in the main Gallery section of the community. Club members can now follow an entire Club rather than just each content section. There is a new option on the Club directory page for a list view which is useful for communities with many Clubs. If you have Commerce you can now enable paid memberships to Clubs. Admins can set limits on number of Clubs per group. If a group has delete permission in their Club, they can now delete empty containers as well. Members can ignore invitations. Moderation and Administration Unrestricted moderator or administrator permission sets in the AdminCP are visually flagged. This prevents administrator confusion when they cannot do something as they will be able to quickly see if their account has restrictions. You can choose to be notified with a new Club is created. Moderators can now reply to any content item with a hidden reply. Download screenshot/watermarks can now be rebuilt if you change settings. Support for Facebook Pixel to easily track visitors. Moderators can now delete Gallery albums. Automatic moderation tools with rules to define when content should auto-hide based on user reports. Totally new member management view in AdminCP. More areas are mass-selectable like comments and AdminCP functions for easier management. New Features Commerce now has full Stripe support including fraud tools, Apple Pay, and other Stripe features. Commerce packages can now have various custom email events configured (expiring soon, purchased, expired). Full Emojii support in the editor. Setting so when someone is typing in an editor, other members will see a "Member X is typing..." status in the editor view. Complete overhaul of the Gallery upload and image views. Announcements system overhaul. Now global on all pages (not via widget) and new modes including dismissible announcements and top-header floating bar option. Many new reports on traffic and engagement in the AdminCP. Blog has new view modes to offer options for a traditional site blog or a community multi-member blog platform. The content-starter can now leave one reply to Reviews on their item. Commerce now makes it much easier to do basic account-subscriptions when there is no product attached. Useful Improvements Forums has a new widget where you can filter by tags. If tags are not required, the tag input box now indicates this so the member knows they do not have to put in tags. Member cover photos can now be clicked to see the full image. Any item with a poll now has a symbol on the list view. Twitch.tv embed support. You can now update/overwrite media in the Pages Media Manager. Mapbox as an additional map provider to Google Maps. Technical Changes Direct support for Sparkpost has been removed. Anyone currently using Sparkpost will automatically have their settings converted to the Sparkpost SMTP mode so your email will still work. Your cache engines (like Redis) will be checked on upgrade and in the support tool to ensure they are reachable. Third-party applications will now be visually labeled to distinguish them from Invision Community official applications. The queued tasks list in the AdminCP is now collapsed by default as queued tasks are not something people need to pay much attention to during normal operations. When upgrading from version 3 series you must convert your database to UTF8 and the system saves your original data in tables prefixed with orig. The AdminCP now alerts you these are still present and allows you to remove them to reclaim storage space. On new installs there are now reasonable defaults for upload limits to keep people from eating up storage space. Categories in all apps (forums, gallery albums, databases, etc.) no longer allow HTML in their titles. This has been a concern both in terms of security and usability so we were forced to restrict it. Large improvements to the Redis cache engine including use for sessions. The login with HTTPS option has been removed and those who were using it will be given instructions to convert their entire community to HTTPS. Images loaded through the proxy system now honor image limits for normal uploads.
  18. Sex Differences in Lupus Mortality Mariah Zebrowski Leach, JD, MS Monday, December 4, 2017 Lupus A comprehensive US population-based study identified an average 22-year and 12-year deficit in life expectancy among females and males with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), respectively, compared with the general population. Background In the United States, SLE is a source of significantly decreased life expectancy. While marked differences have been observed between the sexes in terms of the incidence, prevalence, and clinical manifestations of SLE, this area is still poorly understood. Falasinnu and colleagues1 at Stanford School of Medicine identified sex-based differences in the causes of death among SLE decedents in the United States and recognized clinically relevant comorbidities that may warrant careful consideration in patients’ clinical management. The study This study examined SLE-related deaths using the 2014 National Center for Health Statistics multiple cause of death (MCOD) database, a population-based electronic medical recording of all death certificates issued in the United States. The analysis considered not only the number of death certificates listing SLE as the underlying cause of death, but also those listing SLE in general. Demographic information considered included age, race/ethnicity, sex, educational attainment, foreign-born status, marital status, and pregnancy status. SLE decedents were compared with non-SLE decedents in the general population belonging to the same age group. The findings In 2014, there were 2,660,497 deaths in the United States, of which 2036 (0.1%) listed SLE among the causes of death. Approximately 86.2% of SLE deaths occurred among females, with a median age at death of 59 years and the highest proportion of deaths occurring between 45 and 64 years of age. In comparison, the overall median age at death for females in the general population was 81 years, and the majority of deaths occurred among females over 65 years of age. Black females experienced the greatest burden of SLE mortality. Approximately 32% of all female SLE decedents were black, compared with only 11% of non–SLE-related deaths in the general population. Female decedents with SLE had a slightly higher proportion of foreign-born individuals than the general population, but there were no other significant demographic differences. The most frequently listed comorbidities among female decedents with SLE were septicemia (4.32%) and hypertension (3.04%). Among male decedents with SLE, the median age at death was 61 years, compared with 73 years in the general population. Of male decedents with SLE, 23.5% were black, compared with only 12% in the general population. The age-standardized mortality was highest among American Indian males. There were no other demographic differences related to SLE among male decedents. The most frequently listed comorbidities among male decedents with SLE were heart disease (3.70%) and diabetes mellitus with complications (3.61%). Implications for physicians and future research This study offers an opportunity to better describe the association between SLE and related comorbidities in the context of mortality, although the MCOD data have a number of limitations. Inaccuracy on death certificates can lead to the underestimation of the SLE mortality burden, and researchers were unable to differentiate between causes of death that were related to the natural age process, disease activity, and drug therapy. Still, the MCOD data provide a comprehensive understanding of the population-based burden of SLE mortality. While female SLE patients tend to have more frequent disease exacerbations, male patients appear to have significantly greater multisystemic damage accrual and disease severity. Greater disease severity among male SLE patients may be related to under diagnosis due to selective attention given to females by physicians during clinical decision-making. This potential for gender bias needs to be carefully considered. Racial minorities generally have a disproportionately higher burden of mortality. The scope and degree of these differences in SLE are particularly pronounced, with mortality rates among black females nearly four times as high as those in white females. “Our findings reinforce the urgent need for interventions that reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with SLE to improve health outcomes and ultimately reduce health disparities,” the researchers write. They note that novel translational research programs are currently underway to attempt to address these disparities. Clinically relevant comorbidities also need to be considered more carefully in the course of patients’ clinical management and the natural history of SLE. This study revealed future targets for the investigation of sex-based differences and directions for epidemiological research. “A comprehensive understanding of causes of death and the related comorbidities can improve clinical diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, impact survival outcomes in patients living with SLE, and enhance population-based disease surveillance estimates,” the researchers conclude. References: 1. Falasinnu T, Chaichian Y, Simard JF. Impact of sex on systemic lupus erythematosus-related causes of premature mortality in the United States. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017;26:1214-1221. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2017.6334.
  19. Environmental Factors Tied to Lupus Gregory M. Weiss, M.D. Tuesday, December 5, 2017 Lupus Key points • Ultraviolet light may cause flare-ups in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). • The chemicals found in cigarette smoke can worsen the symptoms of SLE. • Estrogen analogues such as oral contraceptives and bisphenol A (BPA), a substance used to make plastic bottles, may increase the risk of SLE. Background SLE affects women and African Americans disproportionately. Dr. Gaurav Gulati at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio points out that even though we have treatments for lupus, a complete understanding of its etiology and progression is lacking. Although genetics clearly plays a role in SLE, it appears that environmental factors may act as triggers in those who are susceptible. Dr. Gulati conducted a review of the literature related to SLE and environmental versus genetic factors; he presented his findings recently in Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism. The study A systematic review was conducted that looked at over 100 studies focused on SLE. The results • A triad of factors was found in one study that linked a patient’s genetics, how the patient’s DNA changes over time, and exposure to environmental factors to the development and course of SLE. • Twin studies reveal only a 24% concordance of SLE in identical siblings; this points to a conclusion that a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors is involved in the development of lupus. • Heavy metals and other trace elements may be triggers for SLE; uranium, lead, and cadmium are linked to autoimmunity. • Elements such as mercury, nickel, and gold have been implicated in delayed hypersensitivity and inflammation, and a higher rate of lupus has been noted among dental workers. • An increase in SLE has been found in women who take oral contraceptives and in those exposed to xenoestrogens such as BPA, a chemical found in plastics. Implications for physicians • Physicians and particularly rheumatologists who treat patients with SLE should vigorously encourage positive lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation and avoidance of direct sunlight. • Patients with SLE should be advised to always wear sunscreen. • Rheumatologists should provide regular surveillance to their patients with SLE as changes in disease activity and treatment are warranted. References: Gulati G, Brunner HI. Environmental triggers in systemic lupus erythematosus. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2017 Oct 5. pii: S0049-0172(17)30469-9. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2017.10.001. [Epub ahead of print]
  20. Sex Differences in Lupus Mortality Mariah Zebrowski Leach, JD, MS Monday, December 4, 2017 A comprehensive US population-based study identified an average 22-year and 12-year deficit in life expectancy among females and males with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), respectively, compared with the general population. Background In the United States, SLE is a source of significantly decreased life expectancy. While marked differences have been observed between the sexes in terms of the incidence, prevalence, and clinical manifestations of SLE, this area is still poorly understood. Falasinnu and colleagues1 at Stanford School of Medicine identified sex-based differences in the causes of death among SLE decedents in the United States and recognized clinically relevant comorbidities that may warrant careful consideration in patients’ clinical management. The study This study examined SLE-related deaths using the 2014 National Center for Health Statistics multiple cause of death (MCOD) database, a population-based electronic medical recording of all death certificates issued in the United States. The analysis considered not only the number of death certificates listing SLE as the underlying cause of death, but also those listing SLE in general. Demographic information considered included age, race/ethnicity, sex, educational attainment, foreign-born status, marital status, and pregnancy status. SLE decedents were compared with non-SLE decedents in the general population belonging to the same age group. The findings In 2014, there were 2,660,497 deaths in the United States, of which 2036 (0.1%) listed SLE among the causes of death. Approximately 86.2% of SLE deaths occurred among females, with a median age at death of 59 years and the highest proportion of deaths occurring between 45 and 64 years of age. In comparison, the overall median age at death for females in the general population was 81 years, and the majority of deaths occurred among females over 65 years of age. Black females experienced the greatest burden of SLE mortality. Approximately 32% of all female SLE decedents were black, compared with only 11% of non–SLE-related deaths in the general population. Female decedents with SLE had a slightly higher proportion of foreign-born individuals than the general population, but there were no other significant demographic differences. The most frequently listed comorbidities among female decedents with SLE were septicemia (4.32%) and hypertension (3.04%). Among male decedents with SLE, the median age at death was 61 years, compared with 73 years in the general population. Of male decedents with SLE, 23.5% were black, compared with only 12% in the general population. The age-standardized mortality was highest among American Indian males. There were no other demographic differences related to SLE among male decedents. The most frequently listed comorbidities among male decedents with SLE were heart disease (3.70%) and diabetes mellitus with complications (3.61%). Implications for physicians and future research This study offers an opportunity to better describe the association between SLE and related comorbidities in the context of mortality, although the MCOD data have a number of limitations. Inaccuracy on death certificates can lead to the underestimation of the SLE mortality burden, and researchers were unable to differentiate between causes of death that were related to the natural age process, disease activity, and drug therapy. Still, the MCOD data provide a comprehensive understanding of the population-based burden of SLE mortality. While female SLE patients tend to have more frequent disease exacerbations, male patients appear to have significantly greater multisystemic damage accrual and disease severity. Greater disease severity among male SLE patients may be related to under diagnosis due to selective attention given to females by physicians during clinical decision-making. This potential for gender bias needs to be carefully considered. Racial minorities generally have a disproportionately higher burden of mortality. The scope and degree of these differences in SLE are particularly pronounced, with mortality rates among black females nearly four times as high as those in white females. “Our findings reinforce the urgent need for interventions that reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with SLE to improve health outcomes and ultimately reduce health disparities,” the researchers write. They note that novel translational research programs are currently underway to attempt to address these disparities. Clinically relevant comorbidities also need to be considered more carefully in the course of patients’ clinical management and the natural history of SLE. This study revealed future targets for the investigation of sex-based differences and directions for epidemiological research. “A comprehensive understanding of causes of death and the related comorbidities can improve clinical diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, impact survival outcomes in patients living with SLE, and enhance population-based disease surveillance estimates,” the researchers conclude. References: 1. Falasinnu T, Chaichian Y, Simard JF. Impact of sex on systemic lupus erythematosus-related causes of premature mortality in the United States. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017;26:1214-1221. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2017.6334.
  21. Treatment Target Shows Promise in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Mariah Zebrowski Leach, JD, MS Monday, December 4, 2017 The lupus low disease activity state (LLDAS) is a promising treatment target in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), according to new research. Background Successfully applied in rheumatoid arthritis as well as in non-rheumatic conditions, a treat-to-target approach aims to improve disease outcomes through the achievement of a pre-specified goal. An international task force suggested such a strategy for the treatment of SLE.1 They recommended that the treatment target should be remission or—when that is unachievable—the lowest possible disease activity. LLDAS is a composite definition of minimal acceptable disease activity proposed by the Asia-Pacific Lupus Collaboration (APLC). LLDAS is based on the following criteria: 1. SLE Disease Activity Index 2000 (SLEDAI-2K) ≤ 4, with no activity in major organ systems 2. No new lupus disease activity compared with the previous assessment 3. Safety of Estrogen in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment (SELENA)-SLEDAI physician global assessment (PGA) ≤ 1 4. Current prednisolone (or equivalent) dose ≤ 7.5 mg daily 5. Well-tolerated standard maintenance doses of immunosuppressive drugs and approved biological agents To be considered a valid treatment target, LLDAS should be protective against damage accrual in the early SLE stages. Piga and colleagues2 at the University Clinic and AOU of Cagliari in Italy sought to determine the frequency of LLDAS achievement and its association with early damage accrual in a homogenous cohort of Caucasian patients with SLE prospectively assessed during the first 18 months of treatment after diagnosis. The study This study primarily aimed to assess the frequency of LLDAS achievement and its association with early damage, with a secondary aim to identify the main reasons for failure to achieve LLDAS. The study cohort consisted of 107 patients from the Cagliari (Italy) SLE cohort between January 2006 and December 2016. To assess LLDAS as a goal for initial treatment, the primary study endpoint was set at 6 months, with 18 months considered an appropriate time to evaluate the effect of maintenance treatment and early damage accrual. At each visit, disease activity was assessed using the SLEDAI-2K score and the PGA. At 18 months, damage accrual was assessed by the SDI and the possible attribution to corticosteroids was done according to a previous definition. Average daily dose of prednisolone (or equivalent) and ongoing use and new prescription of medications were assessed at every visit. The findings At the 6-month point, LLDAS had been achieved by 47 patients (43.9%). At 18 months, 48 patients (44.9%) were in LLDAS; 33 of them had achieved LLDAS at 6 months and were still in this condition and 15 had reached LLDAS for the first time. Of the 59 patients who were not in LLDAS at 18 months, 45 had never been in LLDAS and 14 had been in LLDAS at 6 months but no longer were at 18 months. Thus, despite a seemingly overall stable LLDAS rate, these results demonstrate the dynamic nature of this condition. On univariate analysis, the following factors were significantly associated with failure to achieve LLDAS at 6 months: renal involvement, higher SLEDAI-2K score, positive (> 10 UL/mL) anti-dsDNA antibodies, lower serum C3 and C4 values, and higher prednisolone dose and immunosuppressant drug use. On multivariate analysis, renal involvement and C4 levels were confirmed to be associated with failure to achieve LLDAS. Implications for physicians The limitations of this study are the relatively small sample size, which may have hampered study results, and the retrospective design, which prevented researchers from testing LLDAS criterion validity by comparing it with other treatment targets such as the SLE Responder Index. Nevertheless, by enrolling consecutively diagnosed patients at the time of treatment initiation and following them prospectively, the researchers were able to provide novel data on LLDAS as a potential treatment target. In this study, the most frequent reason for failure to achieve LLDAS 6 months after therapy initiation was daily prednisolone dosage > 7.5 mg. Damage was definitely attributable to steroid use in 40% of cases in this cohort. However, supported by this data and literature evidence on damage development, the researchers consider 7.5 mg/d an acceptable cutoff to define low disease activity during initial treatment. Still, they recommend a lower cutoff should be targeted to minimize risk of steroid-related damage during maintenance therapy in patients with SLE. In this cohort, patients with renal involvement and serological disorders had the lowest remission rate, and renal involvement at baseline was the most important factor associated with failure to achieve LLDAS. “LLDAS is a promising treatment target in SLE, being attainable and negatively associated with damage accrual in the early stages of the disease,” the researchers write. “However, it seems to poorly fit with the heterogeneity of clinical presentation in patients with SLE, mostly in those with renal involvement,” they conclude. References: 1. van Vollenhoven R, Voskuyl A, Bertsias G, et al. Treat-to-target in systemic lupus erythematosus: recommendations from an international task force. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014;73:958-967. 2. Piga M, Floris A, Cappellazzo G, et al. Failure to achieve lupus low disease activity state (LLDAS) six months after diagnosis is associated with early damage accrual in Caucasian patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Res Ther. 2017;19:247. doi: 10.1186/s13075-017-1451-5.
  22. Poverty Stacks the Deck Against Patients With Lupus Gregory M. Weiss, M.D. Tuesday, November 28, 2017 Lupus Poor patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who receive Medicaid are less likely to adhere to their treatment regimen than are patients who live in more affluent areas. Adherence to SLE therapy may also be lower in areas with large African American populations and limited access to health care professionals. In addition, Medicaid patients are less likely to take hydroxychloroquine for lupus if they live in areas with fewer hospitals, high African American populations, and low provider numbers. SLE strikes women with greater frequency than men and is more than twice as common in the African American population. Dr. Candace Feldman and colleagues at Harvard Medical School note that compliance with hydroxychloroquine therapy in lupus patients is poor at baseline. “Studies in other chronic diseases demonstrate that where individuals live has a significant effect on their health-related behaviors and on disease control and outcomes,” said Dr. Feldman. It was this premise that led the authors to look into how location and resources contribute to adherence to treatment in SLE. They presented their findings at the recent American College of Rheumatologyannual meeting in San Diego, California. The study Utilizing the Medicaid database, new users of hydroxychloroquine were identified and adherence was measured over a 12-month period. The study included 10,268 subjects with SLE who were new users of hydroxychloroquine. The results • Only 15% of subjects remained adherent to hydroxychloroquine therapy based on taking the drug on 80% or more of days covered. • Zip codes with higher percentages of African American residents had lower odds of adherence. • Adherence was highest in counties with more hospitals and lowest in areas with low numbers of health care professionals. • Living in areas with higher numbers of African Americans and fewer hospitals and health care professionals independently predicted low adherence to hydroxychloroquine therapy. Implications for physicians • Low adherence to hydroxychloroquine therapy in SLE is widespread among Medicaid recipients. • Patients with SLE in predominantly low-income, African American communities are at higher risk for non-compliance to hydroxychloroquine therapy. • Lack of access to health care providers and hospitals reduces the likelihood that patients with lupus will adhere to therapy. • Physicians should make every effort to identify barriers to care and treatment adherence, especially in low-income patients with lupus who live in isolated communities with large minority populations. References: American College of Rheumatology Press Release. “Diversity Rate and Poor Access to Health Professionals May Influence Lupus Therapy Adherence.” November 4, 2017. ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting. San Diego, California.
  23. An evidence-based approach to pre-pregnancy counselling for patients with systemic lupus Y K Onno Teng Edwin O W Bredewold Ton J Rabelink Tom W J HuizingaH C Jeroen Eikenboom Maarten Limper Ruth D E Fritsch-StorkKitty W M Bloemenkamp Marieke Sueters Rheumatology, kex374, https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kex374 Published: 20 November 2017 Abstract Patients with SLE are often young females of childbearing age and a pregnancy wish in this patient group is common. However, SLE patients are at high risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes that require adequate guidance. It is widely acknowledged that pre-pregnancy counselling is the pivotal first step in the management of SLE patients with a wish to become pregnant. Next, management of these patients is usually multidisciplinary and often requires specific expertise from the different physicians involved. Very recently a EULAR recommendation was published emphasizing the need for adequate preconception counselling and risk stratification. Therefore the present review specifically addresses the issue of pre-pregnancy counselling for SLE patients with an evidence-based approach. The review summarizes data retrieved from recently published, high-quality cohort studies that have contributed to a better understanding and estimation of pregnancy-related risks for SLE patients. The present review categorizes risks from a patient-oriented point of view, that is, the influence of pregnancy on SLE, of SLE on pregnancy, of SLE on the foetus/neonate and of SLE-related medication. Lastly, pre-pregnancy counselling of SLE patients with additional secondary APS is reviewed. Collectively these data can guide clinicians to formulate appropriate preventive strategies and patient-tailored monitoring plans during pre-pregnancy counselling of SLE patients. https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/rheumatology/kex374/4641853?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  24. 21 November, 2017 SAN DIEGO — At the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting, Joan Merrill, MD, spoke about a study that she said is further demonstration that atacicept should continue being developed as a potential treatment for lupus. According to Merrill, the results also suggest that measurements of low-disease activity may represent not just clinically meaningful endpoints, but may also “work as endpoints in clinical trials to discriminate drug from placebo.” https://www.healio.com/rheumatology/lupus/news/online/{1b289264-6a9b-47a3-86c6-9b0eb8a3980f}/video-atacicept-is-a-potential-exciting-treatment-for-lupus?utm_source=selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=rheumatology news&m_bt=1879111151405
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