Basophils ― immune cells that are activated in allergy and parasitic infections ― contribute to the development of lupus, suggests a study published online in this week's Nature Medicine. The findings support future clinical trials aimed at blocking certain immune cells or antibodies as a therapy for patients with lupus.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder. One of the hallmarks of the disease is the formation of antibodies that recognize and attack the body's own cells, leading in some cases to kidney disease.
Juan Rivera and colleagues found that a certain subset of self-reactive antibodies, IgE, is increased in the blood serum of a mouse model of lupus. The IgE stimulated basophils which supported further production of self-reactive antibodies that can attack the kidney. The scientists found that depletion of basophils or IgE reduced self-reactive antibody formation and protected mice from kidney damage. Similar observations were made in lupus patients, as increased IgE and activation of basophils are associated with the severity of disease and kidney damage.