Leading the way to a cure

Lupus Research Update: 2007 Volume 1

Volume 1, 2007 - Online Edition | In This Issue

The results are in! >
ALR's 2007 grant recipients >
One Love. One Cause. ALR Gala a Smashing Success >
The Faces of Lupus >
Advocacy Update — ALR Goes to Washington >
Research Results - Rituximab Results in Long-Term Immune Alteration in Some Lupus Patients >
Research Results — Exploring Toll-Like Receptors’ (TLR) Role in Lupus >
Research Results – The Role of Myeloid Dendritic Cells in Lupus >
News Flash – American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting Update >
FDA Warning on Rituximab >
Drug Research and Development News >
Beyond the Research - 2007 Walk Sites Announced >

Research Results – The Role of Myeloid Dendritic Cells in Lupus

The immune system operates like a complex ballet, with no single dancer taking a lead role. That’s why lupus researchers spend so much time studying all the players in the immune system, searching for clues as to how their interrelationships affect the disease process.

At the University of Michigan Medical School, Mariana Kaplan, M.D., and her team investigate dendritic cells, which help regulate T and B cell function. While much work has been completed in recent years on the function of one type of dendritic cell called plasmacytoid dendritic cells, her team’s work focuses on myeloid dendritic cells. They’re trying to discover evidence of abnormal function or phenotype of these cells that could contribute to abnormalities seen in the T and B cells of lupus patients.

In an article published in the Nov. 1, 2006 issue of the Journal of Immunology, Dr. Kaplan and her team reported on their work isolating myeloid cells from large numbers of lupus patients as well as healthy controls and patients with rheumatoid arthritis. They measured several markers associated with the cells’ phenotype and function and their ability to secrete certain cytokines and activate and promote the proliferation of T cells. Among their findings:

• Myeloid cells from lupus patients displayed very abnormal differentiation and maturation levels, suggesting that monocytes, which are precursors to myeloid cells, mature much faster when cultured and, once they became dendritic cells, mature even in the absence of external stimuli, all counter to the way cells from healthy subjects behaved. These changes were also seen in myeloid dendritic cells directly isolated from blood, which suggests that these changes are not relegated to cultured cells alone.

• Myeloid cells from lupus patients expressed significantly higher levels of interleukin 8, a peptide that promotes the migration of neutrophils. This finding suggests that these abnormal myeloid dendritic cells may play an important role in lupus-related complications in the kidney and central nervous system.

• Myeloid cells from lupus patients were much more efficient at stimulating T cells and inducing increased proliferation of T cells than those from healthy controls.

The work is important, Dr. Kaplan notes, because it offers up several potential makers to target with new treatments.

Ding D, Mehta H, McCune WJ, Kaplan MJ. Aberrant phenotype and function of myeloid dendritic cells in systemic lupus erythematosus. J Immunol. 2006 Nov 1;177(9):5878-89.

Just the Facts

What the studies showed: Myeloid dendritic cells may play a significant role in lupus disease progression.

What it means: Myeloid dendritic cells may provide a new marker for targeted therapies as well as a way to evaluate the disease’s severity.

What’s next: Better identifying the specific changes seen in the myeloid dendritic cells.

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