Bacterial Amyloids from Biofilms Break Tolerance in Lupus
Bacterial biofilms are bacterial communities that are abundant in the human microbiome but also found in chronic infections such as ear or urinary tract infections. Dr. Gallucci proposes that protein fragments known as curli, which are produced by bacterial biofilm infections, may trigger the onset of lupus (as well as subsequent flares in the disease), and the production of anti-curli antibodies by immune system may participate and be a measure of disease activity. Using mice with lupus and samples from lupus patients, her study will research whether: 1) exposure to curli-expressing bacteria stimulate the development of lupus symptoms, 2) these bacterial infections can be used as therapeutic targets to decrease inflammation and prevent flares, 3) curli antibodies can be used as biomarkers for the disease.
What this study means for people with lupus
Dr. Gallucci’s study will explore whether infections affecting the entire body caused by bacteria that typically live harmoniously on the skin, gut, respiratory tract, etc., can trigger lupus initially and if they cause flares as the disease progresses. If so, the next step will be to explore implications for treating and possibly preventing this devastating disease.