Vall d'Hebron releases four innovative works on different systemic diseases

Articles from the Systemic Diseases research group at the VHIR focus on scleroderma, antiphospholipid syndrome, Sjögren's syndrome, and the relationship between cancer and inflammatory myopathy.


The team of researchers from the group of Systemic Diseases of the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) has recently published four papers in the journal Rheumatology on innovative aspects in different disorders included in the group of systemic diseases, such as scleroderma, antiphospholipid syndrome, Sjögren's syndrome and inflammatory myopathy.

The first study, carried out with the collaboration of the Immunology Service of the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and Italian researchers, has allowed the identification of a new antibody (anti-RNPC-3) in patients with scleroderma as a new factor of worse prognosis of the pulmonary interstitial affectation, a serious complication of the disease. The research, led by Dr. Carmen Pilar Simeon from the Vall d'Hebron Systemic Autoimmune Diseases Unit, will allow a more exhaustive follow-up to be carried out in those patients who are at higher risk of developing complications.

In the second publication, authors explain the results of a long-term follow-up study (38 years, between 1980 and 2018) by Dr. Josep Pardos and Dr. Jaume Alijotas, researchers from the Systemic Diseases group. The analysis establishes that the presence of thrombocytopenia, that is, a decrease in the number of platelets, would be a factor of maximum risk of thrombosis in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome. Thrombocytopenia would be associated with lower survival and, therefore, it would be necessary to take this factor into account when monitoring patients as well as to study the pathogenesis of the disease and develop therapeutic strategies.

The third study focused on primary Sjögren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the exocrine glands, which is sometimes difficult to differentiate from sicca syndrome, a less specific disorder that may be due to non-immunological etiologies. In this case, the research of Dr. Josep Loureiro led by Dr. Roser Solans, showed that the immunophenotypic analysis of blood lymphocytes allows to reliably differentiate Sjögren's syndrome from sicca syndrome. Using flow cytometry, the researchers found that studying the profile of B lymphocytes and CD4 + would help the diagnosis of the disease and, therefore, give patients earlier access to treatment.

Finally, Dr. Albert Selva-O’Callaghan, a researcher from the same group, has participated in a systematic review and a meta-analysis carried out with international researchers focused on the relationship between cancer and inflammatory myopathy. Although this association is well established, it is not clear what the cancer screening should be in these patients. In this publication, different cancer screening guidelines are presented in inflammatory myopathy that would help in the early diagnosis of cancer and improve the clinical evolution of patients.

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