New clue to lupus: Failed autoimmune suppression mechanism

Feb 03, 2011

Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Cambridge, Mass., in collaboration with Jackson Laboratory scientists, have identified a regulatory defect that drives lupus.

Correcting the defect "may represent an effective therapeutic approach to systemic lupus erythematosus-like autoimmune disease," the researchers state in their research paper, published in the . The research team was led by Harvey Cantor, M.D., chair of the department of cancer immunology and AIDS at Dana-Farber, in collaboration with the laboratory of Jackson Professor Derry Roopenian, Ph.D.

Autoimmune diseases develop when the immune system, which is supposed to identify and vanquish potentially dangerous infectious agents, instead attacks the individual's own body. Most strike specific organs, such as the pancreas in . Lupus, however, is a systemic disease in which abnormal antibodies are produced throughout the body, inflaming a variety of tissues and organs, including the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys and brain.

Follicular T helper (TFH) cells fuel B cells to produce antibodies, which can be useful in fighting infections. But in lupus, TFH fuel that produce dangerous antibodies that attack normal tissues (autoantibodies). CD8+ T cells ("killer T cells"), on the other hand, normally attack and destroy only infected cells. Cantor and colleagues discovered that a small, but critically important, population of CD8+ T cells (less than 5 percent), plays a specialized role in protecting from lupus. These so-called CD8+ T regulatory, or Treg, cells are specially equipped to destoy TFH cells, and by doing so, prevent lupus from developing.

Using a mouse model for in humans that was originally discovered at 30 years ago by Edwin Murphy at The Jackson Laboratory, the Dana-Farber researchers, working with Roopenian's laboratory, found defects in CD8+ Treg activity.

The new paper, Roopenian explains, is the first to demonstrate the potential breakdown of this suppression mechanism in lupus. "Overcoming this defect," he says, "offers a potential approach prevent ."

Explore further: New compounds protect nervous system from the structural damage of MS

More information: Kim et al.: Surface phenotype and function of CD8+ T regulatory cells: Defective Ly49+ CD8+ T regulatory cell activity is a hallmark of B6-Yaa autoimmunity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1018974108

Provided by Jackson Laboratory

3 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rescue NET for lupus patients

May 03, 2010

Lupus is a disease where the immune system attacks healthy cells of the body. This leads to progressive damage of different tissues and organs. The classical characteristic of the disease is the so-called ...

Potential autoimmunity-inducing cells found in healthy adults

Dec 22, 2008

It's not just patients with autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that have self-attacking immune cells—healthy people have them too, according to a new report in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. In hea ...

Recommended for you

Mystery of the reverse-wired eyeball solved

Feb 27, 2015

From a practical standpoint, the wiring of the human eye - a product of our evolutionary baggage - doesn't make a lot of sense. In vertebrates, photoreceptors are located behind the neurons in the back of the eye - resulting ...

Neurons controlling appetite made from skin cells

Feb 27, 2015

Researchers have for the first time successfully converted adult human skin cells into neurons of the type that regulate appetite, providing a patient-specific model for studying the neurophysiology of weight ...

Quality control for adult stem cell treatment

Feb 27, 2015

A team of European researchers has devised a strategy to ensure that adult epidermal stem cells are safe before they are used as treatments for patients. The approach involves a clonal strategy where stem cells are collected ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.