A new analysis finds that compared to Caucasians, African-Americans with systemic scleroderma have more antibodies in the blood that are linked to severe complications and an increased likelihood of death. They say this finding, published today in Arthritis & Rheumatism, suggests physicians can use these disease markers to screen and treat scleroderma patients proactively.
For the study, Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) teamed up with researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine to examine 35 years of data collected about the autoimmune disease.
According to the Scleroderma Foundation, there are an estimated 300,000 people in the United States who have scleroderma and about one third of them have the systemic form. While both localized and systemic scleroderma cause hardening of the skin, systemic scleroderma also causes damage to the blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs. Scleroderma occurs when a person's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.
Previous studies suggest that systemic scleroderma is more common, occurs at a younger age and is more severe in African-Americans than Caucasians. Researchers set out to examine if there was a difference in antibodies found in the blood to see if that might explain why African-Americans with the disease often do worse.
Virginia D. Steen, M.D., professor of medicine at GUMC, and her colleagues at Pittsburgh analyzed data from the Pittsburgh Scleroderma Database. Steen helped develop the database,which includes demographic, clinical, autoantibody, organ involvement and survival information for 203 African-American and 2945 Caucasian scleroderma patients seen at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center between 1972 and 2007.
"Our findings show that African-Americans were more likely to have certain antibodies linked to severe complications such as severe pulmonary fibrosis and gastrointestinal involvement," explains Steen. "These complications tend to be the culprit for people who die from severe cases of scleroderma."
The findings show that African-Americans had higher frequencies of certain scleroderma specific autoantibodies compared to Caucasians: anti-U3-RNP (40 percent vs. 2 percent), U1-RNP (16 percent vs. 7 percent) and anti-topoisomerase (27 percent vs. 21 percent). Anti-topoisomerase auto-antibodies in scleroderma are associated with a higher incidence of pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lungs) and greater disease severity, and in this study, African-American patients with this antibody had more frequent and more severe fibrosis than the Caucasians with this antibody.
Pulmonary fibrosis was also more severe in African-American patients with anti-U1 RNP auto-antibodies compared to Caucasian patients with this antibody but a difference in survival between the races was not apparent. Researchers determined that the auto-antibody anti-U3 RNP was linked to more severe gastrointestinal involvement in blacks compared to Caucasians.
"This information can help empower patients and their doctors to act more aggressively, if appropriate, when the person with scleroderma has these antibodies associated with worse outcomes," concludes Steen. "We believe early aggressive intervention will improve outcomes."
In addition to Steen, authors include Robyn T. Domsic, Mary Lucas, Noreen Fertig, Thomas A. Medsger, Jr., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Funding for the database has been received from the American College of Rheumatology, Scleroderma Foundation and numerous other grants from foundations and organizations. Steen and her co-authors report having no personal financial interests related to the study.About Georgetown University Medical Center
Karen Mallet | EurekAlert!
Electrical 'switch' in brain's capillary network monitors activity and controls blood flow
27.03.2017 | Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences