Two LRI-funded Studies Offer New Answers on What Goes Wrong in Lupus Immune System

As the only organization solely dedicated to funding the most novel, creative new science in lupus and autoimmunity, the LRI has the unique privilege of witnessing the progression of its innovative research from inception through its evolution to improving patient care. Important fundamental discoveries from two LRI-funded studies were recently shared with the scientific community through publication in highly-prestigious peer-reviewed journals to help advance the field of lupus research.

What first triggers the lupus immune system to turn on the body’s own cells and tissues? Daniel Stetson, PhD (University of Washington, Seattle) is exploring his theory that lupus begins when cells mistake their own genetic material (DNA) for a virus and alert the immune system to attack it. His latest findings published in Immunity show how this happens in mice with autoimmune disease. Although at an early stage, this research could lead to new approaches to treat or even prevent lupus.

Why are people with lupus 50 times more likely to have heart disease than the average person? Steven Bensinger, VMD, PhD (University of California, Los Angeles) has shown that a protein (liver-X-receptor) best known for controlling cholesterol-levels is also essential to prevent lupus in mice. So defects in this protein could perhaps cause lupus and, at the same time, increase a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Bensinger has recently discovered an unexpected role for liver-x-receptor proteins in preventing an excess accumulation of cells that cause inflammation in tissues. These findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, help to explain how liver x receptor keeps autoimmune disease at bay – insight that could inform the development of new lupus therapies.


Lupus Research Institute: We’re Closing in on the Causes,

Going for the Cure


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