Commonly used drugs may not be effective against autoimmune illness

March 17, 2014 by Helen Dodson, Yale University
Commonly used drugs may not be effective against autoimmune illness
Credit: Patrick Lynch

(Medical Xpress)—Drugs for autoimmune diseases like lupus that block only one of the two principal signaling pathways can activate an overabundance of one potentially disease-causing type of immune cell population over another, a Yale study has found. The findings about T lymphocytes, white blood cells that regulate the immune response, have implications for the development of new vaccination strategies and therapies for autoimmune diseases. The study appears in the Cell Press journal Immunity.

The researchers studied this process in a model of viral infection that is similar to human influenza and certain autoimmune diseases like (SLE). They uncovered opposing roles for signaling pathways STAT3 and type I interferon (IFN) in differentiating the T helper cells that regulate immune cell response to viruses. Blockade of one resulted in an increase of T in the other that could lead to an immune system overreaction, and, ultimately, in lupus, exacerbation of the autoimmune disease.

Patients with like contain both populations of T lymphocytes examined in this study. Previous strategies have been focused on treating patients by blocking one principal pathway or the other. Based on findings in the Yale work, such a strategy could boomerang, promoting activation of the opposing pathway, and lack of therapeutic efficacy. By contrast, the work suggests that more effective therapies should block both pathways.

"This suggests that both pathways would have to be blocked in human SLE in order not to risk exacerbation of one or the other," said senior author Dr. Joseph Craft, the Paul B. Beeson Professor of Rheumatology, professor of immunobiology, and director of the investigative medicine program at Yale School of Medicine.

Standard treatments for SLE and other autoimmune illnesses involve steroids and immunosuppressive drugs, as well as newer, cutting-edge biologics, but Craft says these are not as beneficial as the scientific community had hoped. "Our lab and others are working now on combining therapies to block pathways for both inflammation and antibody production," he said.

Explore further: Genetic mutation causes lupus in mice

Related Stories

Genetic mutation causes lupus in mice

January 3, 2014
Yale researchers have identified a genetic mutation that leads to lupus in mice. The discovery could open the way for development of therapies that target the mutation. The study appears in Cell Reports.

Unique individual demonstrates desired immune response to HIV virus

March 10, 2014
One person's unique ability to fight HIV has provided key insights into an immune response that researchers now hope to trigger with a vaccine, according to findings reported by a team that includes Duke Medicine scientists.

Newly identified immune receptor may activate B cells in autoimmunity

December 18, 2013
A newly identified immune protein influences each person's response to vaccines and risk for autoimmune diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis, according to a study published today by researchers from the School of Medicine ...

Mutation drives viral sensors to initiate autoimmune disease

January 26, 2012
A new study uses a mouse model of a human autoimmune disease to reveal how abnormal regulation of the intracellular sensors that detect invading viruses can lead to autoimmune pathology. The research, published online on ...

Vitamin D supplements may benefit lupus patients

October 16, 2012
A new clinical study published in BioMedCentral's open access journal Arthritis Research and Therapy provides preliminary evidence that vitamin D supplementation could be considered an immunomodulatory agent for systemic ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover key driver of atopic dermatitis

January 17, 2018
Severe eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is driven by an allergic reaction. In their latest study, researchers at La Jolla Institute reveal an important player that promotes ...

Who might benefit from immunotherapy? New study suggests possible marker

January 16, 2018
While immunotherapy has made a big impact on cancer treatment, the fact remains that only about a quarter of patients respond to these treatments.

Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system

January 16, 2018
system, which enables these deadly skin cancers to grow and spread.

How the immune system's key organ regenerates itself

January 15, 2018
With advances in cancer immunotherapy splashing across headlines, the immune system's powerful cancer assassins—T cells—have become dinner-table conversation. But hiding in plain sight behind that "T" is the organ from ...

Immunosuppressive cells in newborns play important role in controlling inflammation in early life

January 15, 2018
New research led by The Wistar Institute, in collaboration with Sun Yat-sen University in China, has characterized the transitory presence of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in mouse and human newborns, revealing ...

Memory loss from West Nile virus may be preventable

January 15, 2018
More than 10,000 people in the United States are living with memory loss and other persistent neurological problems that occur after West Nile virus infects the brain.

0 comments

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.