Dysregulation of the immune system and autoimmune processes play a key role in severe and long-term course of COVID-19 infections. Research has shown that autoantibodies against phospholipids, anti-cardiolipin and anti-beta-2-glycoprotein, may contribute significantly to COVID-19 related autoimmunity and disease severity. Understanding how these antibodies trigger the thrombotic manifestations of the disease is important to improve patient management and to understand the underlying pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Doctors’ awareness of autoantibodies promoting COVID-19 disease and determination of these autoantibodies with reliable laboratory tests will benefit the patients.
In 2012 the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) has issued diagnostic guidelines for coeliac disease (CD) that should support physicians in accurately diagnosing CD without performing duodenal biopsies in selected patients. These guidelines have now been updated, new clinical evidence for this approach has been implemented and the non-biopsy approach has been evaluated also in asymptomatic children.
The International Sjoegren’s Syndrome Criteria Working Group refined the existing classification criteria for primary Sjoegren’s Syndrome, and developed a set of data, which performed well in validation analyses and are well-suited as criteria for enrollment of patients in clinical trials. (1) (more…)
May ELISA tests replace IIF in the diagnostic work-up of patients with suspected ANCA-associated vasculitis? The answer is clearly yes according to recently published results of the European Vasculitis Study Group.1
Towards Early diagnosis and biomarker validation in Arthritis Management
EuroTEAM Arthritis (Towards Early diagnosis and biomarker validation in Arthritis Management) is a challenging research project, funded by the European Union with 5.77 Million Euro for four years. Clinicians and lab scientists with world class expertise in rheumatoid arthritis research from 13 renowned European research institutions and three industrial partners with competence in design and development of diagnostic test kits for autoimmune diseases, local gene therapy for rheumatic diseases, and human genome analysis join their efforts in the discovery of novel biomarkers for early detection of rheumatoid arthritis. The EuroTEAM members intend to develop approaches to predict the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in people who do not yet have the disease. Ultimately, this will help in the development of treatments to prevent people from getting rheumatoid arthritis.
May measuring of fecal calprotectin replace colonoscopy for follow up of patients with Crohn’s disease after surgery?
After intestinal resection patients with Crohn’s disease need close monitoring and tailored therapy adjustment to reduce the risk of relapses. Today, colonoscopy is still the gold standard for the detection of disease reactivation, an invasive procedure which is unpleasant for the patient and expensive for the health care systems.
Biomarkers in blood or stool samples that correlate with endoscopic findings could therefor improve the surveillance of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases.
A candidate marker for this purpose is measurement of calprotectin concentrations in stool samples from affected patients.
Rheumatoid factor (RF) is one of the best known serological markers in rheumatology – development of the test dates back into the 1940ies. Since this time the toolkit of serological diagnostic tests for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been complemented by the more specific anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA) tests. However, none of the various ACPA tests has completly replaced RF until now.
The jigsaw puzzle of rheumatoid arthritis classification
In contrast, the significance of RF has been further substantiated with the definition of the 2010 ACR criteria for classification of RA. Moreover, recent studies have shown the potential of RF as a contributor to disease pathogenesis.
The famous musician Seal is known for his numerous international hits, and for living with an autoimmune disease: the scars on his face are the result of discoid lupus erythematosus. Picture: C. Grube for Access2music.de, wikimedia
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory disease with manifold manifestations. SLE belongs to the family of autoimmune disorders, diseases that occur, when a mislead immune system attacks the body’s own structures. SLE can affect almost any organ system, thus its presentation and course are highly variable, and diagnosis and therapy may be challenging.
With the intention to classify SLE patients for research and surveillance studies and to support clinicians in confirming a diagnosis, a set of clinical and laboratory classification criteria has been developed and released by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). The first classification criteria for SLE were originally published in 1971 [1,2]. They have been updated 1982  and 1997  to incorporate new immunologic knowledge and improve patient classification. In contrast to the 1987 criteria, the 1997 criteria have not been validated.
The most recent addendum to the classification criteria for SLE dates from 2012, when the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) group published a revision and validation of the ACR criteria .
Inflammatory rheumatic diseases predominantly affect women. This also includes many young women who would like to have children or who have not yet completed their family planning when they are first diagnosed. These women do not need to give up on their desire to have children forever. Women with rheumatic disease tend to have fewer children than other women, and it often takes them longer to achieve a desired pregnancy. Today, carefully monitored medical treatment and close collaboration between the rheumatologist and the gynaecologist give these women the opportunity to bring a healthy child into the world.
Differential 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.