A Flawed Cell Disposal System May Trigger Lupus
The body’s inability to dispose of the 50 to 70 billion cells that die every day somehow plays a role in lupus, but how has not been clear. Now, exciting new research from Lupus Research Institute-funded scientist Dr. Douglas Green, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, sheds light on what may be going wrong.
Dr. Green’s research implicates defects in a process that digests dead cells, called LC3-associated phagocytosis (LAP). He discovered that when mice deficient in LAP were exposed to dead cells, they developed lupus-like symptoms such as increased levels of inflammation as well as signs of kidney disease. The paper was published this month in the highly esteemed journal Nature.
With his Distinguished Innovator Award from the Lupus Research Institute, Dr. Green is taking this research further to study how LAP serves to prevent disease and develop ways to restore the control of autoimmunity to cells and animals with these defects. Work has begun to identify LAP defects in humans with lupus. Dr. Green anticipates that these results will pave the way to novel treatment strategies for lupus.