Surprising Culprit in Lupus Found, Published in Immunity

Lupus Research Institute Scientist Contributes to Discovery (Image: L. Teichmann)

LRI-funded researcher Daniel H. Kaplan (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN) was still working at Yale University when he showed that mice didn't develop skin lupus when they were bred lacking certain dendritic cells in the outer layer of the skin (Langerhans cells). His findings were part of a series of related discoveries published in the December 16th issue of Immunity that point to a localized role for dendritic cells in causing lupus tissue damage.

Dendritic Cells as Lupus Culprits

Image: L. Teichmann

The immunoflourescent image shows T cells (green) and dendritic cells (blue) and dividing immune system cells (red) active in a diseased kidney. This illustrates how dendritic cells are active locally along with T cells in the autoimmune disease lupus.

Yale Researchers Find A Surprising Culprit in Lupus

New Haven, Conn. - Yale University researchers were able to reduce symptoms of lupus in mice by eliminating a key immune system cell and in doing so may have identified a new therapeutic target for a variety of other autoimmune diseases.

The findings, reported in the December 16 issue of the journal Immunity, focused on the role the dendritic cell plays in systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects a variety of parts of the body including skin, joints, blood and kidneys. Dendritic cells are important for initiating the immune response to pathogens but it is unclear what role they play in autoimmune diseases, such as SLE.

A team led by Mark Shlomchik, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and of Immunobiology and senior author of the paper, knocked out dendritic cells in lupus-prone mice and found a dramatic reduction in symptoms of lupus. They also discovered another surprise.