Leading the way to a cure


Retinoic Acid Regulation of T Cell Homeostasis in Lupus

Morel, Laurence, PhD

University of Florida

Retinoic acid is form of vitamin A that has strong anti-inflammatory effects. In mice, studies find that it prevents and reverses a type of lupus nephritis (kidney disease). Recent studies have shown that retinoic acid appears to increase the number of regulatory or noninflammatory T cells, which, in turn, reduces the number of inflammatory T cells, which contribute to the development and symptoms of lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Reducing the numbers of these cells can help stem the autoimmune response that is the hallmark of lupus. 

Dr. Morel and her team will use their grant to study retinoic acid in mouse models of lupus to see if this is, indeed, the mechanism responsible for the compound’s beneficial effect in lupus nephritis. They will also investigate whether this mechanism is responsible for the increased numbers of inflammatory T cells in people with lupus.

What this study means for people with lupus: The results of these experiments will help determine how to target the retinoic pathway in lupus treatment to restore a balance between regulatory and inflammatory T cells.

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