A new study has shown that restoring the balance of a protein in blood may be a promising treatment option for systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease.
The protein, CXCL5, helps to regulate the immune system through neutrophils, a type of white blood cell. In patients with lupus, the immune system which normally protects them against infections, paradoxically attacks their healthy tissues and organs, making them inflamed.
Researchers from the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) discovered that CXCL5 levels in the blood of patients with lupus were significantly lower than healthy individuals, suggesting that the protein may be a reason for lupus activity. Similar results were found in mice models of lupus.
Additionally, the team found that weekly injections of CXCL5 to mice with severe lupus restored CXCL5 balance, and improved survival from 25 percent to over 70 percent at 10 weeks. There was improved kidney function and reduced lupus activity compared to saline-treated mice. When CXCL5 was given together with cyclophosphamide (a conventional potent immunosuppressive treatment for lupus), CXCL5 seemed to prevent the toxic side effects of cyclophosphamide, enabling the mice to survive up to two years.