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Baylor study reveals role for oxidized mitochondrial DNA in lupus

Researchers at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research have discovered that the neutrophils of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients release oxidized DNA from their mitochondria that can stimulate an unwanted immune response. The study “Oxidized mitochondrial nucleoids released by neutrophils drive type I interferon production in human lupus,” which will be published online April 18 in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that targeting the pathways that lead to the accumulation of this DNA and/or facilitate its removal could be new ways to treat this chronic autoimmune disease.

Neutrophils Isolated from SLE Patients
Oxidized DNA (green) accumulates in the mitochondria (red) of neutrophils isolated from SLE patients.
Credit: Caielli et al., 2016