Our Blog Has Moved!


Dear subscribers of our autoimmunity blog and rss feed readers,

our blog has moved to a self hosted server and has a new web address. The address now is http://www.autoimmunityblog.com. So, the “wordpress” part has vanished. Please note that you need to update your RSS feed to still get new articles from us. Also, visit our site to see the new design and stay tuned!

Kind regards,

Your Team from ORGENTEC Diagnostika

Dr. Friederike Hammar & Christopher Luening

Calprotectin for discriminiation of functional and organic bowel disease


inflammatory bowel diseaseDifferential diagnosis of bowel diseases can be challenging, because most of them present with similar common symptoms: abdominal pain and discomfort, diarrhea, weight loss. Infections by common gastrointestinal pathogens may soon be identified, but discrimination of inflammatory bowel disease, of which ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the most common, and irritable bowel syndrome, remains difficult.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is characterised by inflammation of the bowel, which is not seen in most patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and both conditions request different diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. IBD are serious diseases with severe comorbidities, and affected patients need further investigation with extensive diagnostic measures and intensive medical treatment. In contrast to that, IBS may be painful and impairs quality of life, but it does not usually cause serious morbidity. However, patients with IBS can have symptoms for many years and they often experience unnecessary and stressing diagnostic procedures.

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Portrait of the HEp2 cell, the pet of immunofluorescence professionals


HEp2 cells -- centromere B

Anti-Centromere B on HEp2 cells

HEp2 cells are held dear in autoimmune diagnostics. They are invaluable for people engaged in analysing autoantibodies, as E. coli is for molecular biologists or mice for toxicologists.

In spite of a wide range of other suitable methods and technologies, determination of autoantibodies with indirect immuno-fluorescence assays (IFA) on human epithelioma (HEp2) cells still contributes significantly to the diagnosis of autoimmune diseases. The widely recognised advantages of this method are high sensitivity and a broad spectrum of antibodies that can be analysed simultaneously. In addition to mere detection of antibodies a characteristic fluorescence pattern and staining of metaphase and cytoplasmic cells offer supplementary information.

When an autoimmune disease is suspected, the HEp-2 test usually is the first line test. Any positive result is then followed up by a step-wise diagnostic approach, including other immunological tests like ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) for single antibody specificities or immunoblot tests. Continue reading

Immunofluorescence Tests in Crescentic Glomerulonephritis


The web community GRÜNER CLUB AUTOIMMUN is a voluntary association of scientists, laboratory specialists, medical doctors, students and immunofluorescence enthusiasts from Austria. In their internet blog these experienced IFT professionals  discuss questions, ideas and concepts of immunofluorescence tests in autoimmune disease diagnostics.

DER GRÜNE CLUB AUTOIMMUN

In a recent posting my Austrian colleague Barbara Fabian, community manager of GRÜNER CLUB AUTOIMMUN, refered to the relationship  between the formation of  autoantibodies against glomerular basal membrane (GBM) and ANCA (antibodies against cytoplasmic antigens of neutrophil granulocytes). The article was originally written in German language, but we had it translated  for the not German speaking readers of the Autoimmunity Blog.

Autoantibodies against Glomerular Basal Membrane and Myeloperoxidase in Crescentic Glomerulonephritis

by Barbara Fabian, Vienna

Crescentic Glomerulonephritis (CGN) is an autoimmune disease of the kidney that leads to vasculitis of the capillaries in the glomeruli. The appearance of characteristic autoantibodies or antibody complexes is indicative of CGN and allows for the differentiation of three groups:

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Ankylosing Spondylitis: Biomarkers May Predict Disease Progression


Recently, a new study has identified a couple of biomarkers that may predict disease progression in patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis (or: AS for short), an autoimmune disease also called Morbus Bechterew.

The German study describes key inter-group differences between different types of AS patients, which may predict the progression of structural damage in the spine. In the future awareness of such differences will help physicians to stratify patients due to risk. Hence, the results may pave the way for developing specific treatment options for this autoimmune disorder.

New treatment options on the horizon

In the more recent past, several biomarkers have been described to be associated with radiographic spinal progression and syndesmophyte formation in Bechterew’s disease. However, it is not clear, whether these biomarkers are also able to predict new bone formation in AS patients.

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Research Update: Osteoimmunology


Linking autoantibody production to bone loss

in rheumatoid arthritis

Inflammation of the synovium in a joint affected by rheumatoid arthritis

Autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins (ACPA) are found in people with rheumatoid arthritis and are one of the strongest risk factors for bone destruction in this disease. A recent study now directly links the formation of antibodies binding to mutated citrullinated vimentin (anti-MCV) to bone loss in rheumatoid arthritis, indicating that these autoantibodies act on osteoclasts, the bone cells responsible for bone resorption.

Harre U, Georgess D, Bang H, Bozec A, Axmann R, Ossipova E et al. Induction of osteoclastogenesis and bone loss by human autoantibodies against citrullinated vimentin. J Clin Invest 2012; 122(5):1791-802. (1)                    

The research of  U. Harre, G. Schett and their coworkers provides fundamental new insights into the interaction between bone and the immune system in the inflammatory process leading to the development of rheumatoid arthritis.

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Research Update: New Classification Criteria for Sjoegren’s Syndrome


Since the early 1960s almost a dozen different criteria for Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) have been published, both for classifying and for diagnosing that autoimmune disease. Recently, an international team of rheumatologists has published new classification criteria for Sjögren’s syndrome. In the April issue of the Arthritis Care & Research journal the authors propose clear and carefully worded guidelines.

Without question, these “new 2012 classification criteria for Sjögren’s syndrome” are urgently needed to better support etiologic and genetic research and therapeutic trials for Sjögren’s syndrome. Indeed, the new criteria are the first to be based solely on objective clinical tests!

Many other criterions have permitted various testing subjectivity to enable the classification of the disorder. In consequence, subjectivity has made standardisation of clinical trial inclusion something of a moving target, limiting comparability of research data across studies and impeding the needed robust clinical evaluation of possible new treatments. But criteria used for enrollment into clinical trials need to be clear, be easy to apply. And the new 2012 criteria agree to that demand. Continue reading

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