Dutch Arthritis Society project funded!

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Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting up to 1/1000 children in Western countries. Like many autoimmune diseases, it is caused by a loss of tolerance whereby inappropriately active T cells in the joint help to generate a perpetuating inflammatory environment. Peripheral tolerance mechanisms regulating T cell function are essential to maintain immune homeostasis, and their deregulation can result in autoimmunity. Our unpublished observations demonstrate that effector T cells from the synovial fluid of JIA patients are resistant to induction of anergy, one of the peripheral mechanisms to maintain tolerance. Preliminary work by Enric Mocholi in the Coffer Lab has revealed that blocking autophagosome formation induces anergy in both peripheral blood healthy and JIA synovial fluid CD4+ T cells. We hypothesise that inhibition of autophagosome formation may provide a novel approach for controlling JIA, bearing in mind that this might also be applicable to other related (auto)immune diseases. With funding from ReumaNederland we are looking forward to taking this translatable work forward in 2019.