One Step Closer to Unlocking Lupus Mystery
But whether the lack of Dnase1 actually leads to disease, or simply makes
the disease worse for those who already have it, is difficult for experts to
It also is unknown what causes people to lack Dnase1. Several possibilities
are under investigation, says study author Tarik MÃ¶rÃ¶y, PhD, a professor of
cell biology at the Institut fÃ¼r Zellbiologie in Essen, Germany. "There may
be a loss of the Dnase1 gene" which sparks production of the enzyme, he
says. "Or we may inherit a Dnase1 gene that is less effective in producing
the enzyme. Environmental factors that inhibit Dnase1 activity in the [blood]
is also a possibility."
The researchers also examined blood samples of 10 patients with kidney
disease. Four of them had lupus, and tests showed significantly decreased
Whether or not treating lupus patients with Dnase1 will be effective still
remains to be seen. Animal experiments have shown good results, but the outcome
was less optimistic with actual lupus patients. The form of Dnase1 available
leaves the body almost immediately, which makes it less effective for
MÃ¶rÃ¶y feels that Dnase1 might have a better effect if used early on in the
disease or to prevent it rather than in patients with full-blown lupus.
But the study evidence is not definitive, and even if the scientists are
correct, lupus is too complex a disease to have just one cause. "It's right
now still in the stage of hypothesis and conjecture, which is based on
suggestive evidence but I wouldn't go so far as to say its proven yet,"
- Lupus is a complex disorder that affects multiple parts of the body when
the immune system attacks the body's own cells.
- New research shows that levels of a substance, called Dnase1, responsible
for cleaning up debris from dead cells, is lower among lupus patients, compared
- It is not known yet whether treating patients with this Dnase1 can
effectively fight or slow this disease.