Submission Date

4-13-2011

Document Type

Paper

Department

Biology

Adviser

Rebecca Roberts

Committee Member

Rebecca Roberts

Committee Member

Ronald Hess

Committee Member

Tony Lobo

Department Chair

Kate Goddard

External Reviewer

Stefania Gallucci

Distinguished Honors

This paper has met the requirements for Distinguished Honors.

Project Description

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a damaging autoimmune disease afflicting millions of people worldwide. Lupus is characterized by an overabundance of autoantibodies, proteins directing the immune system to destroy a person's own body, what it would normally be protecting. The molecular mechanisms, environmental influences, and genetic predispositions of Lupus are not yet fully understood. However, nine out of ten Lupus patients are women between the age of puberty and menopause, when estrogen levels are highest. The fact that women are significantly more prone to suffer from Lupus than men leads experts to believe that the sex hormone estrogen which is present at much higher concentrations in females may play a role in the initiation and progression of Lupus symptoms. This study uses a widely-accepted mouse model for Lupus and examines two important mechanisms of antigen processing and presentation: cathepsins and the presence of surface proteins on B cells involved in antigen presentation and costimulation.

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