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!
Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.10.2017 | Life Sciences