Leading the way to a cure


Developmental Neurotoxicity of Maternal Lupus Anti-NMDAR Antibodies

Volpe, Bruce, MD

Cornell Medical College, Burke Institute

Antibodies to double-stranded DNA (anti-DNA) are a  signature sign of lupus. One subset of anti-DNA antibodies that bind to the glutamate receptor NMDA (N-methyl  D-aspartate) has been found in the serum, cerebrospinal  fluid and brains of lupus patients. 

With the ALR grant, Dr. Volpe and his team will investigate  the possibility that anti-glutamate receptor antibodies in a pregnant mouse model of lupus can be transferred to fetal brains, causing brain damage and cognitive or behavioral  disorders. This may help explain reports that children of  mothers with lupus are more likely to have learning  disabilities than children of mothers without lupus. They  will also explore whether dose-dependent exposure to  anti-glutamate receptor antibody can cause neuronal  damage in mice during specific periods of fetal development. 

What this study means for people with lupus: This work provides a model for investigating  autoantibody-mediated fetal brain injury that may  apply to the children of mothers with lupus and other  autoimmune diseases.

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