Understanding the role of dendritic integrins in autoimmunity

Disease - Rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr Vicky Morrison

Organisation - University of Glasgow

Type of grant - Career Development Fellowship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £452,258

Start date - 1 March 2015

Reference - 20848

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The immune system must be tightly controlled to prevent it from attacking the body’s own tissues. When this control is lost, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can develop. A specialised cell type called dendritic cells are responsible for controlling and coordinating the immune system. Dendritic cells have proteins on their surface, called integrins which control the activity of the cell and allows them to communicate with other types of cells. This research aims to determine the role of these dendritic integrins in the development of arthritic disease.

Why is this research important?

Dendritic integrins are known to be involved in the prevention of autoimmunity, but their exact role in this process is not well understood. Understanding the how dendritic cells are controlled by integrins is important not only to advance the knowledge of the causes of RA, but also for improving the understanding of the basic functions of immune cells.

This research will be conducted using mice which have altered dendritic integrin proteins. It is likely that some parts of the integrin protein are more important than others in the control of the immune system so this research will help to identify which these important parts are. Once the important parts of the protein are identified, more work can then be done to understand their role in autoimmune disease.

How will the findings benefit patients?

This research will enhance our knowledge of how arthritis starts and develops. Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis have a very complex mechanism leading to the clinical signs which patients experience, and understanding these mechanisms is important in the work to find a cure.