Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers uncover biological rationale for why intensive lupus treatment works

27.07.2010
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have uncovered the biological rationale for why large doses of corticosteroids given repeatedly over several weeks may help individuals with lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects more than 1 million people in the U.S.

Unlike the anabolic steroids athletes sometimes use illegally to bulk up muscle, corticosteroids are routinely used to treat inflammation in lupus patients. The drugs, however, can cause undesirable side effects including weight gain and acne when taken over long periods of time.

In a study published in a recent issue of Nature, researchers at UT Southwestern and other institutions show in blood cells that giving very high doses of intravenous corticosteroids early and frequently in the course of the disease is more effective at killing the cells that drive lupus than giving the standard limited intravenous steroids followed by high doses of oral corticosteroids over a period of months. The cells used came from lupus patients as well as from animal models of lupus.

"By giving the very high dose early and frequently in the course of the disease, we could actually end up using much less steroids in the long run," said Dr. Marilynn Punaro, professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and co-author of the study. "This finding suggests that by doing so, we might be able to get the disease under control more quickly and patients might experience fewer long-term side effects."

Dr. Punaro, who treats patients at Children's Medical Center Dallas and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, said her team often uses this treatment plan – referred to as pulse steroids – with lupus patients because they've found it can be more effective than standard treatment at maintaining control of the disease.

The standard treatment involves giving very high doses of steroids intravenously for only a few days. Most physicians then transition to a high oral dose and gradually reduce the amount of steroids to the lowest level at which the drugs are still effective.

Lupus is a debilitating autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissue and organs, including the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood and skin. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans have the disease, which affects all age groups. It is 10 to 15 times more likely in adult women than adult men.

The immune system of lupus patients is dysfunctional, causing inflammation throughout the body. In this study, researchers used the blood cells to investigate why the standard treatment might be less effective in halting the inflammation.

They found that pulse doses of intravenous steroids kill off the cells – called plasmacytoid dendritic cells – producing interferon alpha, a protein that promotes this inflammation. Oral corticosteroids given at much lower doses did not have this effect.

"Now we have the biological rationale for why pulsing is often more effective than standard therapy," said Dr. Tracey Wright, assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and another study co-author.

Dr. Punaro, director of the pediatric rheumatology division at UT Southwestern, said the team hopes that this study will lead to recommendations on ways to treat lupus patients more effectively.

"If the patient receives very high doses of pulse steroids during the induction period, when steroid-sparing long-term drugs – which take a while to work – are being ramped up to an effective level, then our experience has been that we end up using fewer steroids overall," Dr. Punaro said. "Steroids are probably always going to be a short-term fix because they work quickly and powerfully, but we hope that this information will enable physicians to be smarter about how they use steroids."

The next step, she said, is to use the paper's scientific rationale as the basis for a clinical trial comparing patients who receive the more intensive therapy with those getting standard therapy.

Dr. Virginia Pascual, former director of the pediatric rheumatology division at UT Southwestern, contributed to the study. Researchers from Dynavax Technologies Corp. were lead and senior authors of the paper; researchers at Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, the National Institutes of Health and Institut Curie in Paris also contributed to the investigation.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Alliance for Lupus Research and the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/pediatrics to learn more about UT Southwestern's clinical services in pediatrics.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/home/news/index.html

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews

Kristen Holland Shear | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>