Leading the way to a cure


Disruption of Autoreactive Germinal Centers as a Novel Therapy for Lupus

Mountz, John, MD

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Germinal centers are specialized collections of immune cells, including B cells, T cells, and dendritic cells, that promote the production of antibodies in response to infection or immunization. In lupus, however, these germinal centers form spontaneously. It has been speculated that this spontaneous formation may be a key factor in the production of the autoreactive antibodies that cause tissue damage in lupus. 

Using a new mouse model of lupus, Dr. Mountz and his team are analyzing the cascade of molecular signals that act on B cells to initiate or stabilize the formation of germinal centers. For instance, they have found that one such process is related to the production of interleukin 17 (IL-17) by T cells. Interleukin 17 drives contacts between B and T cells that lead to the spontaneous formation of germinal centers. With their ALR grants, the researchers will try to determine if blocking this and other processes could reduce the production of autoantibodies and the development of autoimmune disease. 

What does this study mean for people with lupus: These studies may not only form the basis of new therapies but may also provide insights into the effects of existing therapies that are based on IL-17.

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