The Researchers Summary:
Pediatric systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a prototypic autoimmune disease in which the immune system causes damage to multiple organs, including the skin, joints, and kidneys, and less often the heart, lung, liver and brain. Antibodies are involved in the disease; however other immune cells, T cells, also play an important role. T cells directly infiltrate targeted organs and help produce autoantibodies instead of inhibiting their production. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are newly-identified DNA-like molecules that can effect immune cell responses by blocking expression of target genes. Altered miRNAs have been identified in adult autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and SLE. These abnormalities have not been studied in response to medications used to treat SLE, correlated to arthritis in SLE patients, or examined in pediatric SLE. We hypothesize that the miRNA are altered in pediatric SLE similar to adult SLE. Altered miRNAs will correlate to disease activity and treatments, including presence of arthritis and treatment with steroids.
Although it is known adult SLE immune cells display multiple altered miRNAs, these findings are not yet validated in children. The proposed work will accomplish this validation, but also has the potential to find novel aberrant miRNAs. Identified miRNAs could reveal specific targets for treatment, biomarkers of disease activity or inherent defects of pediatric SLE. This will significantly advance knowledge of both the field of miRNAs and immunology of pediatric SLE. Moreover these findings may have special importance for prognosis and treatment of pediatric onset SLE and pediatric arthritis.