From left to right: William Rounds, Nancy Monson, Ann Ligocki, Sara Ireland.
Our laboratory has been focused on translational research for over 10 years. Our focus has been on the autoimmune disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Specifically, we have investigated the impact of B cells on MS and the mouse model of MS (Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis). Most recently, we have demonstrated that:
1. B cell depletion results in a decreased activation state of Th17 cells in mice (PloSOne, 2011), which underscores the role of inflammatory B cells in the pathogenesis of EAE.
2. B cells drive T cell proliferation and IFNgamma production in response to brain antigens (EJI, 2010), which may be related to our observation that B cells from MS patients are hyper-responsive to co-stimulation (Autoimmunity, 2012).
3. The pattern of antibody genes expressed by B cells from the cerebrospinal fluid of MS patients can help us identify patients that will develop MS in the future with >90% accuracy (JNI, 2009). B cells that express these genes are also highly enriched in the brain lesions of MS patients (JNI, 2010).
We are currently finding ways to harness these discoveries to help us diagnose patients and guide decisions in therapy.