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Research Offers Clues to Impact of Lupus on Immune System

Regulatory B cells becoming pro-inflammatory instead of protective

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TUESDAY, March 8, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have gained new insight into systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) which they hope will lead to new therapies, or help guide current treatment choices. The research was published online March 8 in Immunity.

The findings are based on blood samples from nearly 100 healthy volunteers and 200 patients with SLE.

The team found that SLE patients seemed to have an imbalance among three types of immune cells: B cells that produce antibodies; regulatory B cells that help suppress excessive immune responses; and plasmacytoid dendritic cells that produce interferon-alpha. Essentially, there is a lack of anti-inflammatory B cells, which leads to overproduction of interferon-α. That, in turn, boosts that number of antibody-producing B cells and suppresses the division and appearance of regulatory B cells, according to the researchers.

The findings could help in developing new SLE therapies, senior researcher Claudia Mauri, Ph.D., told HealthDay. Mauri is a professor of immunology at University College London. "We will continue to work to develop new [treatment] strategies that harness the anti-inflammatory B cells in patients with SLE," she said.

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