Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic immune-mediated demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that is a leading cause of disability in young adults. While cellular and molecular immune targets are highly promising for the development of MS therapeutics, specific mechanisms by which the immune system coordinates attacks within the brain and spinal cord remain unclear. Dendritic cells (DCs) are a special class of immune cells distributed throughout the body that coordinate immune responses and are regarded as critical for the initiation and maintenance of autoimmune diseases. DCs have been identified from studies on MS and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), as crucial organizers of immune responses during neuroinflammation. Our goal is to identify the molecular features of DCs that promote inflammatory changes during EAE. We have examined DCs for their expression pattern of micro-RNAs – small fragments of genetic material that regulate the function of individual cells and are highly amenable to therapeutic intervention. We identified a micro-RNA signature of DCs during EAE and plan to test whether specific micro-RNAs regulate entry of DCs into the nervous system during disease. We will also examine the relation between the micro-RNA signatures of DC and microglia, immune cells that reside within the CNS. Exploring this mechanism of CNS injury mediated by DCs will pinpoint potential targets for therapy, leading to opportunities for the development of a possible micro-RNA-based treatment for patients with MS.
Hope Center Investigators
Pilot project teams include Hope Center faculty members and others. For more about Hope Center faculty on this team, click below.
This pilot project is made possible by the Danforth Foundation Challenge Endowment.