The following is a description of a study from one of the many researchers that our organization has funded.

The role of estrogen receptors in B cell mediated autoreactivity

Christine Grimaldi, Ph.D.
Columbia University
New York, New York
Dr. Grimaldi’s study focuses on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease caused by the production of autoantibodies that mediate tissue damage in target organs, such as the kidney. The autoreactive B cells that secrete autoantibodies are generated in healthy individuals; however, they do not cause disease because the healthy immune system is able to regulate these cells. Dr. Grimaldi will study how the autoreactive B cells of SLE patients bypass the surveillance mechanisms of the immune system.

Since SLE affects females almost 10 times more frequently than males, it has been widely speculated that estrogen plays a role in disease progression. To learn more about the effects of estrogen in SLE patients, Dr. Grimaldi has been treating mice with estrogen. The data accumulated have shown that an increase in estrogen induces a lupus-like disease in mice, indicating that elevations of estrogen levels are sufficient to alter the regulation of autoreactive B cells. Her ANRF study will focus on estrogen receptors, trying to determine the effects of different receptors on the survival and activation of autoreactive B cells. This may have important clinical applications: selective estrogen receptor modulators could be developed to counteract the estrogen receptor identified as integral for progression of SLE.

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