Dysregulation of Interferon Signaling in Neurons Triggers CNS lupus
Dr. Carroll is studying why and how lupus attacks the brain and central nervous system (CNS). CNS lupus refers to neuropsychiatric issues experienced by many people with lupus, including headaches, confusion, depression, and memory and vision problems as well as seizures, strokes or changes in behavior. Dr. Carroll discovered a link between CNS lupus and a loss of “synapses”—or the connections between nerves that allow the flow of information in the brain, much like bridges allow cars to pass from one stretch of roadway to the next. Importantly, the synapse bridges that are destroyed in lupus are in a specific area of the brain that controls behavior.
A major breakthrough for understanding CNS lupus, Dr. Carroll found that an antibody that blocks interferon, a key molecule of the immune system, could prevent CNS lupus by defending these synapses from attack. With his Distinguished Innovator Award, Dr. Carroll will investigate why these particular synapses are destroyed in lupus and how shutting off interferon could protect against damage to the central nervous system.
What this study means for people with lupus
The study is transformative as it not only suggests a new approach to treatment, but also provides a mechanism for tracking the disease in people with lupus.