RG13: Musculoskeletal Immune-Regulation

The goal of RG13 is to decipher the role of (mis)communication between immune cells and tissue microenvironment in the development of rheumatic diseases - Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Spondyloarthropaties (SpA) and Systemic Lupus Erithematosus (SLE) and ageing changes in musculoskeletal system.

The group comprises a fundamental research group (H Soares) and a clinical team (F Pimentel-Santos) based in Rheumatology of University Hospital in Lisbon (CHLO-HEM). The best way to provide new insights is to study directly the pathological processes in human patients. Using tissue samples from patients we are pursuing how biological variables such as genetic background, gender/sex, infectious agents, autoimmunity, and tissue microenvironment impinge on the signalling and metabolic circuitry of immune cells.

We have established an interdisciplinary approach combining: clinical, bioinformatics, cellular and molecular immunology and cutting-edge microscopy working withinfour main research lines:

  1. Identification of biomarkers using transcriptomics and proteomics methods to establish new therapeutic and diagnostic algorithms to improve clinical practice;
  2. Investigate the role of muscle tissue as a promoter of inflammatory rheumatic diseases;
  3. Elucidate the tissue protective mechanisms that counter-regulate inflammatory T cells, including reprogramming inflammatory T cells to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis;
  4. Identify the molecular mechanisms in the female bias of chronic inflammatory diseases.


A better knowledge of the complex interactions between genetic, immunological and environmental factors will lead to the ultimate goal: to develop new approaches allowing for patient stratification and to identify novel therapeutic targets towards precision therapies.


Keywords: Pathogenic T cell subsets; Tissue microenvironment; B-cell compartments; Immune reprogramming


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