Clues to autoimmune origins of lupus in precursor cells

Clues to the autoimmune origins of lupus systemic lupus erythematosus are in precursor cells, say researchers. Precursor cells are stem cells that are committed to forming a specific kind of new blood cell. We also refer to precursor cells as blast cells or simply blasts.

The researchers, from Emory University, University of Alabama, Johns Hopkins University, NYU School of Medicine, University of Rochester, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, wrote about their study and findings in the journal Immunity.

It appears that DN2 cells are the precursor cells to the plasmablasts that produce autoreactive antibodies. Autoreactive antibodies are the ones that act against the organism that produced them. Autoreactive antibodies are specifically the ones that cause so much trouble for lupus patients.

During an infection, plasmablasts are an important source of antibodies that help destroy viruses and bacteria. However, in the bodies of patients with lupus, plasmablasts and B cell subsets persist in ways they shouldn’t.

In general, we can think of B cells as a library of blueprints for various antibodies/weapons, and plasmablasts as weapons factories.

We need a better understanding of where the problem plasmablasts come from; in other words, their precursor cells. These precursor cells might provide clues on how to target the plasmablasts. If we can target them, we may subsequently be able to control the disease.

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