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Lupus Research Update: 2012 Volume 3

Volume 3, 2012 - Online Edition | In This Issue


Looking at T Cell Function to Better Understand Lupus >
Back to Basics — T Cells... B Cells... And Lupus >
Researching B Cells Reveals Clues About Lupus >
Faces of Lupus: Sisterly Love in Michigan Benefits Everyone with Lupus >
Genetic Gateways to Understanding Lupus - New ALR Grant Awardees >
Lupus News Corner >

Back to Basics — T Cells... B Cells... And Lupus

By going "back to the basics" — and looking at the pivotal role that T cells and B cells play in the human immune system — ALR-funded scientists like Drs. Pernis and Gregersen are gaining ground in unlocking the mysteries of lupus.

The following terms will help our readers better understand their investigations, which are described on pages 1 and 2 of this newsletter.

B cells are a type of blood cell that belong to a group of white blood cells (WBCs), which help the body fight infection.

When B cells encounter an antigen (infection or a foreign body), they become activated and produce molecules called antibodies that attach to the surface of the infectious agent. These antibodies either kill the infection-causing organism or make it vulnerable to attack by other WBCs. This process guards the body against infection.

These vital cells are called B cells because they are created in bone marrow. Once matured, B cells are present in the blood and lymph nodes.

T cells are another type of blood cell that helps the body fight infection. T cells play a major role in protecting the immune system by identifying, directly attacking, and destroying infectious agents.

Unlike B cells, T cells mature and develop in the thymus, an organ in the chest. When fully matured, T cells are present in the blood and lymph nodes.

The function of B cells and T cells is vital to the immune system, allowing humans to ward off and better cope with often-hostile bacteria, viruses, and other foreign matter.

In lupus, this process malfunctions, causing the immune system to become overactive and overproduce antibodies. These antibodies are misdirected and attack healthy tissue and organs.


1.5 million

people in the U.S. have Lupus.

90 million

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