HealthDay News — Scientists have gained new insight into systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) which they hope will lead to new therapies, or help guide current treatment choices. The research was published online March 8 in Immunity.

The findings are based on blood samples from nearly 100 healthy volunteers and 200 patients with SLE.

The team found that SLE patients seemed to have an imbalance among 3 types of immune cells: B cells that produce antibodies; regulatory B cells that help suppress excessive immune responses; and plasmacytoid dendritic cells that produce interferon-alpha. Essentially, there is a lack of anti-inflammatory B cells, which leads to overproduction of interferon-α. That, in turn, boosts that number of antibody-producing B cells and suppresses the division and appearance of regulatory B cells, according to the researchers.

The findings could help in developing new SLE therapies, senior researcher Claudia Mauri, PhD, told HealthDay. Mauri is a professor of immunology at University College London. “We will continue to work to develop new [treatment] strategies that harness the anti-inflammatory B cells in patients with SLE,” she said.

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