The Lu Lab studies the immune circuit in autoimmune and musculoskeletal conditions to understand how the immune system acts in tissue injury and protection. Upon injury or infection, the affected tissue sends signals to lymphoid tissues such as lymph nodes, which are the sites of T and B cell activation. T and B cells are recruited to lymph nodes and become activated, causing lymph node swelling, and then migrate from the lymph nodes to the affected tissue to control the infection or otherwise protect the tissue. Reduced activity of this circuit can result in an inability to fight infection, while overactivation of this circuit can result in autoimmune and inflammatory disease, where the immune cells destroy healthy tissue. Dysfunction at any point in circuit can lead to disease, and we aim to better understand the circuit in order to better treat diseases such as lupus, scleroderma, and musculoskeletal conditions in children and adults.
We study the immune circuit from a number of perspectives, including 1) lymph node vascular-stromal microenvironment that controls T and B cells in autoimmune and musculoskeletal conditions, 2) Langerhans (immune) cell protection of the skin in lupus photosensitivity ( a skin sensitivity to sunlight), 3) lymphatic dysfunction in disease, and 4) the role of immune cells in tissue repair and regeneration in fibrosis.
Our work has the potential to provide more insight into fundamental mechanisms of health and disease and to lead to better treatment of rheumatic, immune, and musculoskeletal conditions.