Microbiology researcher awarded lupus grant

UAB researcher will study the possible connection between cholesterol and kidney function in lupus patients.

Janusz Kabarowski, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Microbiology at UAB, is one of 12 researchers nationwide to receive a 2012 Novel Research Grant from the Lupus Research Institute and S.L.E. Lupus Foundation.

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As a group, the grants fund research into the reasons lupus turns the body’s immune system against itself and new ways to treat it. With his grant, Kabarowski will attempt to determine if high-density lipoprotein — or good cholesterol — can protect the kidneys of lupus patients against attack by immune cells and related inflammation.

HDL long has been studied for its ability to counter the inflammation caused when low-density lipoprotein  — or bad cholesterol — builds in the lining of blood vessels. His work will examine the value of raising HDL levels in lupus and changing HDL to provide more powerful protection against inflammation.

“We’re investigating whether anti-inflammatory properties of HDL known to protect the heart can stem the immune system’s assault on other organs as part of autoimmune disease,” said Kabarowski. “If so, therapies increasing HDL could be a new treatment approach for lupus nephritis. I am excited and honored that the foundations chose to support this work.”

Specifically, Kabarowski and colleagues will measure the severity of lupus, inflammation and end-stage kidney disease in groups of mice with normal HDL levels, high HDL levels or HDL deficiency. He will also test effects of an oral drug that mimics the effect of a major protein component of HDL, apolipoprotein A-I, in lupus-prone mice.

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