Researchers Discover Potential Genetic Trigger of Lupus and Sjögren's


Well-Known Member
Researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) have uncovered a potential genetic trigger of systemic autoimmune disease. The study, the culmination of more than 10 years of research and published online in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology in June, discovered virus-like elements within the human genome linked to the development of two autoimmune diseases: lupus and Sjogren's syndrome.

Researchers studied kidney biopsy samples from 24 patients with lupus nephritis and salivary gland tissue from 31 patients with Sjogren's syndrome and compared them to healthy tissue.

"Our findings support the hypothesis that L1 retroelements, perhaps along with other virus-derived genomic elements, may contribute to the development of autoimmune disorders characterized by high levels of type 1 interferon," she said. "Although it may not be the only cause, it's intriguing to think that virus-derived elements in our own genome are either quiet and don't cause any trouble, or they get stirred up and contribute to disease."

Further studies are needed to elucidate the role of both exogenous and endogenous viruses in the development of autoimmune disease, Dr. Crow said. Gaining a better understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms could offer the possibility of developing new and better treatments for lupus and other autoimmune conditions in the future.


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
The idea that virus-like elements in our genome of all things may spur autoimmune diseases is both fascinating and makes sense given the viral trigger that seems to be able to set autoimmune diseases. Does a viral attack spur the release of old virus-like genomic elements?

My mother died of Sjogren's - its of real interest to me personally and genomically..

It's a little weird too, to think that our genes may be producing transcripts that the immune systems thinks are viruses..Yuck...

"We hypothesized that virus-like DNA sequences inherent in our own genomes or the RNA transcripts they produce might be driving the production of interferon and contributing to disease," said Dr. Crow, chair, Department of Medicine, and Benjamin M. Rosen Chair in Immunology and Inflammation Research at HSS. "Our genomes are packed with sequences derived from viruses that were inserted many thousands of years ago, and these virus-like sequences can move around, causing genetic mutations and contributing to the evolution of our genomes. We hypothesized that they sometimes generate virus-like RNA sequences that can be detected by the immune system."

Thanks for the post.



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There is sojern in my family too I wonder what is the prevalence of that kind in family members of cfsers.


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
There is sojern in my family too I wonder what is the prevalence of that kind in family members of cfsers.
You know hopefully we will find that out either with the CDC Multi-site study or with the genetic study the Bateman-Horne Institute is doing. I remember very early going to a doctor and when I told her that my mother died of Sjogren's she said - well there you have it - that's why you have ME/CFS.


Well-Known Member
Interesting, my autoimmune disease is possibly going to progress (1/3 of people with my dx progress to a specific defined CTD) - to sjogrens or lupus most likely (with scleroderma or mixed as a possible alternative- I think they feel RA is unlikely- but can't be sure). I wonder if this is more related to my CFS or ME than I thought?


Well-Known Member
Wow, just reading this post. So important. Just spoke with person who has lupus and daughter is diagnosed with fibro. We had many cases of autoimmune disorders in families with FMS/CFS in support group. My grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis. There is asthma/ allergies throughout my family.

Very interesting. My CFS / immunologist doc told me he thinks we are all related - HLA B27 folks. ( He is double board certified - internal medicine/ infectious disease/ professor at local university) He also told me ( when I asked) that he thinks we have had viruses that came from sources "off planet" introduced to our human population. I asked if this was accidental or intentional. He said, " I don't know. I don't know."

I have lived long enough to see some pretty strange things. A shock to someone who is degreed in biology, always believed in the scientific method , began original research in high school in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh, got a letter of commendation from the CDC for isolating a new species of Pasteurella, taught science, etc etc. Just saying this so I hope you can appreciate that I am not totally ' off my rocker.'

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