Study Identifies Molecular Associations with Cognitive Dysfunction in Lupus
In the first study of its kind led by Lupus Foundation of America Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Awardee Erik Anderson, MD, PhD, researchers have discovered an association between blood levels of tryptophan breakdown products in people with lupus and cognitive dysfunction (CD). Tryptophan breakdown is stimulated by interferon alpha (IFNα), a protein that is increased in lupus. The investigators found a potentially neurotoxic imbalance of tryptophan byproducts in SLE patients that associated with poor cognitive performance (research abstract 1). Furthermore, increased IFNα stimulated gene expression associated with an increase in this potential neurotoxic imbalance (research abstract 2).
Dr. Anderson shared, "Cognitive dysfunction is common in lupus, with a potentially devastating impact, yet we have limited understanding of causes and lack treatments. Our research found links among interferon alpha, a potential neurotoxic imbalance of tryptophan byproducts, and cognitive dysfunction in lupus patients. I'm grateful that the Lupus Foundation of America’s Gary S. Gilkeson award supports this research, and allows us to continue to investigate these associations, which will increase our understanding of cognitive dysfunction in lupus and potentially lead to therapeutic targets."
The research, led by LFA grantee Erik Anderson, MD, PhD, is an exciting step toward developing targeted therapies to prevent and treat CD in lupus. The Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award supports early career scientists committed to lupus research and aids the professional growth of fellows and clinicians for up to two years of post-fellowship work. Learn more about Dr. Anderson’s research.