Research group Marie Wahren-Herlenius

Pathogenesis of the rheumatic autoimmune disease Sjögren's syndrome and congenital heart block - for development of prevention, diagnostics and therapy

Description of the project

Autoimmune disorders are a major cause of disease and disability, affecting around 5% of the population. We study the molecular and clinical pathology of the rheumatic autoimmune condition Sjögren’s syndrome, and the autoantibody mediated congenital heart block that may develop in the fetus of pregnant women with Sjögren’s syndrome.

Our projects aim at specifying key steps in generation of the autoimmune inflammation in both mother and child, and to identify immunologic components relevant to the tissue destruction. Our research is performed with a translational approach and involves both basic molecular studies, analysis in experimental models and clinical investigations. Generated data are important for developing preventive strategies, diagnostic assays and novel therapy.

Overall aim

By studying the underlying factors such a genetics and triggering environmental factors and the resulting pathogenic autoimmune process in Sjögren's syndrome and congenital heart block we hope to develop prevention, novel diagnostics and therapeutic appraoches.

The research group

Marie Wahren-Herlenius, professor, gruppledare

Alexander Espinosa, Docent, Team leader

Hanna Brauner, MD, PhD, Team leader (Team Brauner)

Vijole Ottosson, PhD, labmanager

Lauro Meneghel, postdoc

Malin Hedlund, postdoc

Diego Pulgarin, postdoc

Andrea Scheffschick, postdoc (Team Brauner)

Sina Fuchs, postdoc (Team Brauner)

Gudny Ella Thorlacius, doktorand

Johannes Mofors, MD, doktorand

Albin Björk, MD, doktorand

Tilen Trselic, doktorand

Julia Nenonen, MD, doktorand (Team Brauner)

André Rudolph, MD, student

Stina Salomonsson, PhD, affilierad forskare

Aurélie Ambrosi, PhD, affilierad forskare

Marika Kvarnström, MD, PhD, affilierad forskare

Marie Fischer, MD, PhD, affilierad forskare

Amanda Skog, PhD, affilierad, Biobanksansvarig koordinator

Five selected publications

H1N1 vaccination in Sjögren's syndrome triggers polyclonal B cell activation and promotes autoantibody production.
Brauner S, Folkersen L, Kvarnström M, Meisgen S, Petersen S, Franzén-Malmros M, et al
Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2017 Oct;76(10):1755-1763

Clinical associations and expression pattern of the autoimmunity susceptibility factor DIORA-1 in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome.
Aqrawi LA, Mentlein L, Meneghel L, Björk A, Thorlacius GE, Ivanchenko M, et al
Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2018 12;77(12):1840-1842

European families reveal MHC class I and II associations with autoimmune-mediated congenital heart block.
Kyriakidis NC, Kockum I, Julkunen H, Hoxha A, Salomonsson S, Meneghel L, et al
Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2018 09;77(9):1381-1382

Comorbidity and long-term outcome in patients with congenital heart block and their siblings exposed to Ro/SSA autoantibodies in utero.
Mofors J, Eliasson H, Ambrosi A, Salomonsson S, Skog A, Fored M, et al
Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2019 05;78(5):696-703

Sonesson SE and Wahren-Herlenius M.
Surveillance of congenital heart block in highly specialised care.
Lancet Rheumatology 2020;2:e203-204.