The incidence of many autoimmune diseases is higher in women than in men. This bias is thought to be a result of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, including exposure to sex hormones. This concept is supported by the fact that many women are between the ages of 15 and 40 when diagnosed with autoimmune diseases.
Our laboratory (established at the Institute in 2007) focuses on the effects of sex hormones on the immune system during initiation/progression of lupus-like disease in mice. Spontaneous mouse models of autoimmunity includes the New Zealand hybrid ((NZB x NZW)F1) mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This proven model of SLE develops several manifestations similar to those seen in human patients. Of particular interest is the fact that predominantly female (NZB x NZW)F1 mice develop the disease. Thus, this model is extremely useful for studies investigating the interrelationship of sex hormones and autoimmunity.
Our studies aim to identify the molecular and cellular signatures associated with early lupus-like disease characteristics, such as hypergammaglobulinemia and anti-nuclear autoantibody production. Our goal is to identify new biomarkers/biosignatures for early detection of disease. In addition, we are specifically investigating whether sex hormones are involved in the control of type I interferon production/signaling, as we and others have previously described how manipulating levels of type I interferons in female lupus-prone mice can alter disease incidence and kinetics.
Abhishek Trigunaite, graduate student, CSU
Laura Davison, graduate student, Molecular Medicine, CCLCM
Joana Dimo, undergraduate student, CSU
Andrés Alberto, undergraduate student, CSU
Lauren Liegl, undergraduate student, BWU
Dr. Xiaoxia Li, Dept. of Immunology, Cleveland Clinic
Dr. Damir Janigro, Dept. of BME, Cleveland Clinic
Dr. Philippa Marrack, Dept. Immunology, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO
Dr. Chandra Mohan, University of Houston, Houston, TX