Researching the Role of Sex Hormones in Lupus
Women are more likely to develop lupus than men, however, the disease is often more severe in men. Previous research suggests that testosterone promotes inflammatory responses while estrogen does not. So, what is the connection between testosterone (male hormone), estrogen (female hormone) and lupus?
Lupus Foundation of America Gina M. Finzi Student Summer Fellowship Award recipient, Jessica Jones, set out to investigate the role of sex hormones in lupus. To determine what drives female predisposition towards autoimmunity, Jones explored plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) and myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), and how they function differently in men and women. pDCs function in a rich estrogen environment and MDSCs are driven by testosterone.
Jones looked at how hormonal signaling induces hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from both men and women to develop into either pDCs or MDSCs. While results are not yet in, Jones is excited about the outcome which could help to clarify the role of sex hormones in lupus.
“Understanding how sex and sex hormones act to drive the higher frequency of females among lupus patients compared to males is an important step towards developing more targeted and personalized therapies,” said Jones. “The Gina M. Finzi Student Summer Fellowship Award has given me the opportunity to investigate this exciting and important area of research, and I am hopeful it will lead to further advances in how we care for lupus patients, both men and women!”
The Gina M. Finzi Student Summer Fellowship Award is a grant program that connects students with leading scientists in the lupus field to advance lupus research and contribute to future therapies, prevention strategies and educational programs. Jones will continue to work on this study through June of 2021 at the Cleveland Clinic. She feels “privileged” to be working towards new lupus treatments and looks forward to supporting people with lupus through medical treatment and investigational research. Learn more about Jones and her research efforts.