Daniel Stetson, PhD

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

2009 Environmental Triggers, Why the Lupus Immune System Reacts to Its Own DNA

Cell-Intrinsic Initiation of Autoimmunity in Lupus and Related Diseases

Daniel Stetson, PhD Lupus and related autoimmune disorders are characterized by an abnormal response to viruses in which nucleic acids such as our DNA are mistaken for viral infection. When the immune system detects these nucleic acids and read them as foreign, it attacks.

Much about the nature of these nucleic acid triggers of lupus remains poorly understood.

With LRI funding, Dr. Stetson and his team will develop a novel mouse model in which nucleic acids from within the cell trigger lethal autoimmunity. In so doing, they will generate a fascinatingly detailed picture of where these nucleic acids come from and how their accumulation activates lupus-like autoimmunity—thereby uncovering potent insights into the cause and development of lupus along with potential new biomarkers (early markers) to help monitor and treat it.

Subsequent Publication 2012

Dr. Stetson's published findings in Immunity show how lupus begins when cells mistake their own genetic material (DNA) for a virus and alert the immune system to attack it. Although at an early stage, this research could lead to new approaches to treat or even prevent lupus. 

Select Publications

Immunity. 2012 Jan 27;36(1) Autoimmunity initiates in nonhematopoietic cells and progresses via lymphocytes in an interferon-dependent autoimmune disease. Gall A1, Treuting P, Elkon KB, Loo YM, Gale M Jr, Barber GN, Stetson DB.