Autoimmune Disorders


Identifying Bacteria that May Be at the Root of Autoimmune Disorders

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Martin Kriegel, M.D.,Assistant Professor of Immunobiology and Internal Medicine

An autoimmune disease called antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS) is more common in women than men, and highly prevalent in patients with other autoimmune disorders that are more common in women, such as lupus. The immune system in APS makes antibodies that lead to the formation of blood clots that can cause stroke, heart attack, deep vein thrombosis and pregnancy-related problems, such as recurring miscarriages or premature birth. While the cause of APS is unknown, patients typically are treated lifelong with anti-clotting medications with adverse side effects that include bleeding. Dr. Kriegel hypothesizes that normally benign bacteria in the digestive tract trigger the production of the harmful antibodies in APS patients. His preliminary data from laboratory work has identified a possible antibody-producing trigger among a vast array of different bacteria.

Now, in what is believed to be the first study to identify such triggers among APS patients, Kriegel will determine which bacteria may be at the root of the disease. His ultimate goal is to identify biomarkers for development of new diagnostic and treatment options to target and stop initiation of the antibodies rather than mitigating the harmful effects of antibodies after production.