Advances in Science Identify Cells to Target in Lupus Research and Therapy
Researchers identified differences in neutrophil biology that are responsible for some of the symptoms of lupus. Neutrophils are the most common type of white blood cells in the body and act as the immune system’s first responders in fighting infection. However, using cutting-edge laboratory procedures, scientists have been able to distinguish a particular variety of neutrophil cells that play an important role in lupus disease development. These cells, known as mature low-density granulocytes (LDGs), cause blood vessel damage and contribute to lupus symptoms like decreased kidney function and high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Mariana Kaplan, M.D., Chief of the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and Lupus Foundation of America Medical-Scientific Advisory Council member and her research team made the discovery. By comparing LDGs in the blood of people with lupus and healthy individuals, they found the genes in the mature LDGs (the LDGs in the later stages of their life cycle) were more active in those with lupus and associated with greater blood vessel damage.
Identifying drugs that target this specific neutrophil group could provide more selective therapies for people with lupus and allow clinicians to address premature vascular disease, the number one cause of death in people with lupus. Further studies into neutrophils may also provide useful clinical biomarkers, enabling clinicians to more closely monitor or more aggressively treat people with lupus with higher numbers of mature LDGs in their blood. Learn about how lupus affects white blood cells.