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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Linking the immune system to the central nervous system: a role for antibodies and Fcγ receptors in neuronal damage.

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There are a growing number of diseases with CNS involvement that affect young people, including systemic lupus erythematosis. The aetiology of the neurological symptoms in lupus is poorly understood, but a role for anti-neuronal antibodies and compromised BBB has been suggested. In this project we investigate the role of microglia and Fc receptors in antibody mediated neuronal damage.

Systemic lupus erythematosis (Lupus) is an autoimmune mediated disease, where organ damage can be initiated by antibody immune-complex binding to Fc receptors. Up to 75%of patients develop neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as depression and memory loss, causing reduction in quality of life and increased mortality. Suggested mechanisms underlying these neurological symptoms include vasculopathy, local production of cytokines, and direct interaction of auto-antibodies with neurons. One class of antibody that cause neuronal damage agonistic NMDA receptor (NMDA-R) antibodies. Systemic injection of these antibodies induce damage in the hippocampus, which results in memory deficits, but this only occurs when the BBB has also been disturbed, for example following a systemic infection. The objective of this project is to investigate the additional role of microglia in antibody-mediated neuronal damage in lupus.

Funding

This work is an innovation project, funded by the Wessex Medical Trust (2009-2011).

Related research groups

Biomedical Sciences
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