Principal Investigator: Laura Piccio, MD, PhD (WUSTL Neurology)
Co-Investigator: Marina Cella, MD (WUSTL Pathology & Immunology)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a highly debilitating disease of the central nervous system that affects millions of people worldwide. In MS patients, immune cells (that normally fight viruses and bacteria) are attacking components of their own body in the central nervous system. This “autoimmune” attack is believed to be mainly orchestrated by white blood cells called lymphocytes, a specific type of immune cells. Lymphocyte auto-reactive responses can be counter-regulated by other immune cells, including some white blood cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDCs). Our preliminary data show that PDCs exert a protective role in an animal model of MS. The aim of this project is to determine whether and how PDCs in MS patients lose their protective affect. Our studies will indicate if selective manipulation of this cell type could be suitable to ameliorate or cure MS.