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We study the role that ion channels play in the development and persistence of the chronic autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE affects about 1.5 million Americans, predominantly women, and is characterized by a broad variety of clinical symptoms such as glomerulonephritis and central nervous system impairment. We have shown that human T lymphocytes present with a characteristic defect in potassium channel behavior that contributes to the hyperactivity of SLE T lymphocytes. This finding opens the possibility of targeting ion channels for new therapeutic intervention. We are currently studies the role that ion channels play in the hyperactivity of T lymphocytes of SLE patients with a focus on their chemotactic and cytotoxic capabilities. To this goal we are utilizing humanized mouse models of lupus nephritis.
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