Uncovering novel mechanistic pathways involved in immune cell-mediated pathogenesis of autoimmune rheumatic diseases has been a consistent theme throughout my research career. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multi-organ and destructive autoimmune disease characterized by pathogenic autoantibodies. While it has been accepted that dendritic cells play an important role in the initiation of the disease, only recently have studies now implicated DCs as a major factor in the persistence of SLE. DCs from patients with SLE exhibit elevated expression of activation markers including co-stimulatory molecules and pro- inflammatory cytokines;however, the factors that are responsible for the aberrant activation is unknown. Caspase 8, an aspartic enzyme known to function in death receptor signaling, can initiate apoptosis and/or suppress necroptosis (through inhibition of RIPK1/3 signaling) in a multitude of cells. Preliminary studies show that mice lacking caspase 8 in DCs (CreCD11cCasp8flox/flox), exhibit a break in tolerance at as early as 2-3 months of age. CreCD11cCasp8flox/flox mice display splenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, dsDNA-reactive autoantibodies, glomerulonephritis, immune complex deposition in the kidney, exacerbated proteinuria levels, heightened amounts of serum pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-12, IL-1?, and IFN?/?)and early mortality. Loss of caspase 8 in DCs does not affect their survival, but they are highly activated, leading to elevated levels of activated lymphocytes in a paracrine manner. The increased activation potential of CreCD11cCasp8flox/flox DCs may be controlled by toll-like receptos 7 and 9 (TLR7/9) since caspase 8-deficient DCs display a hyper- responsiveness to TLR7/9 ligation with increased DNA binding activity of interferon regulatory factor (IRF). Additionally, blocking RIPK1 signaling dampens the TLR7/9-induced secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines in caspase 8-deficient DCs. Collectively, these data suggest that intact caspase 8 signaling in DCs is crucial for preventing and/or limiting the hyper stimulation of DCs and induction of SLE-like disease. My progress and career advancement will be monitored throughout the five-year program by an Advisory Committee, which will include my mentor and four other members, and this group has already been instrumental in helping me develop my research proposal. My long-term career goal has been to build an academic research group focused on understanding immunologic mechanisms underlying the development of rheumatic diseases, with an emphasis on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is my belief that this proposal is an ideal training vehicle for a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award, as I will become proficient in DC biology, as well as signal transduction, thereby developing my own niche in rheumatic disease as I begin to establish an independent academic career.

Public Health Relevance

Aberrant dendritic cell phenotypes are observed in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This proposal suggests that intact caspase 8 signaling in dendritic cells (DCs) is crucial for preventing and/or limiting the hyper stimulation f DCs and induction of SLE-like disease. Since patients with SLE often fail to achieve remission using current immunosuppressive therapy, relapses are common, and side effects from treatment are substantial, the ultimate objective is to utilize these research discoveries to help n the development of safer and more effective therapies for rheumatic diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Special Grants Review Committee (AMS)
Program Officer
Mancini, Marie
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Northwestern University at Chicago
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Chalmers, Samantha A; Wen, Jing; Doerner, Jessica et al. (2018) Highly selective inhibition of Bruton's tyrosine kinase attenuates skin and brain disease in murine lupus. Arthritis Res Ther 20:10
Mandelin 2nd, Arthur M; Homan, Philip J; Shaffer, Alexander M et al. (2018) Transcriptional Profiling of Synovial Macrophages Using Minimally Invasive Ultrasound-Guided Synovial Biopsies in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis Rheumatol 70:841-854
Misharin, Alexander V; Morales-Nebreda, Luisa; Reyfman, Paul A et al. (2017) Monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages drive lung fibrosis and persist in the lung over the life span. J Exp Med 214:2387-2404
MacLauchlan, Susan; Zuriaga, Maria A; Fuster, José J et al. (2017) Genetic deficiency of Wnt5a diminishes disease severity in a murine model of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Res Ther 19:166
Tsai, FuNien; Homan, Philip J; Agrawal, Hemant et al. (2017) Bim suppresses the development of SLE by limiting myeloid inflammatory responses. J Exp Med 214:3753-3773
Makinde, Hadijat M; Just, Talia B; Cuda, Carla M et al. (2017) The Role of Microglia in the Etiology and Evolution of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Shock 48:276-283
Makinde, Hadijat M; Cuda, Carla M; Just, Talia B et al. (2017) Nonclassical Monocytes Mediate Secondary Injury, Neurocognitive Outcome, and Neutrophil Infiltration after Traumatic Brain Injury. J Immunol 199:3583-3591
Dominguez, Salina; Montgomery, Anna B; Haines 3rd, G Kenneth et al. (2017) The caspase-8/RIPK3 signaling axis in antigen presenting cells controls the inflammatory arthritic response. Arthritis Res Ther 19:224
Tsai, FuNien; Perlman, Harris; Cuda, Carla M (2017) The contribution of the programmed cell death machinery in innate immune cells to lupus nephritis. Clin Immunol 185:74-85
Cuda, Carla M; Pope, Richard M; Perlman, Harris (2016) The inflammatory role of phagocyte apoptotic pathways in rheumatic diseases. Nat Rev Rheumatol 12:543-58

Showing the most recent 10 out of 17 publications