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Lupus mouse kidney glomerulus (yellow) with tubules (white)

Barnas Lab

Type III Interferon in Autoimmune Disease

Type I interferon production from nucleic acid-sensing pathways drives systemic lupus erythematosus pathogenesis according to current dogma. However, type III interferons (IFN-λ) can stimulate a similar gene expression profile utilizing a unique receptor. IFN-λ is detected in the blood, kidneys, and skin of lupus patients. The contribution of IFN-λ to lupus and lupus nephritis pathogenesis is currently unknown. The objective of this project is to identify which innate interferon pathways are dominant in the human renal microenvironment of lupus nephritis.

Immunohistochemistry and laser microdissection of patient renal biopsies will be used to assess in situ protein and RNA expression of innate interferons and their gene signatures. One working hypothesis is that nucleic acid sensors, IFN-α, and IFN-λ stimulate innate interferon production in human renal tubule epithelial cells to promote lupus pathogenesis.

Long-term goals include establishing the functional role of IFN-λ in lupus and the renal microenvironment including its contribution to renal fibrosis and end-stage kidney disease. Understanding how innate interferon pathways interconnect will allow for their therapeutic calibration for improved lupus patient outcome as well as in other autoimmune and viral diseases.

Jennifer Barnas, M.D., Ph.D.

Jennifer Barnas, M.D., Ph.D.
Principal Investigator


Barnas JL and Ritchlin CT. Etiology and Pathogenesis of Psoriatic Arthritis. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2015 Nov; 41(4):643-63.

Simpson-Abelson MR, Loyall JL, Lehman HK, Barnas JL, Minderman H, O’Laughlin KL, Wallace PK, George TC, Peng P, Kelleher RJ, Odunsi K, Bankert RB. Human Ovarian Tumor Ascites Fluids Rapidly and Reversibly Inhibit T Cell Receptor-Induced NF-kB and NFAT Signaling in Tumor-Associated T Cells. Cancer Immunity. 2013 July 15.

Bankert RB, Balu-Iyer SV, Odunsi K, Schultz LD, Kelleher RJ, Barnas JL, Simpson-Abelson MR, Parsons R, Yokota SJ. Humanized Mouse Model of Ovarian Cancer Recapitulates Patient Solid Tumor Progression, Ascites Formation, and Metastasis. PLoS One. 2011 Sep; 6(9): e24420.

Barnas JL, Simpson-Abelson MR, Brooks SP, Kelleher RJ, Bankert RB. Reciprocal Functional Modulation of the Activation of T Lymphocytes and Fibroblasts Derived from Human Solid Tumors. Journal of Immunology. 2010 Aug; 185(5): 2681-2692.

Barnas JL, Simpson-Abelson MR, Yokota S, Kelleher RJ, and Banker RB. T cells and Stromal Fibroblasts in Human Tumor Microenvironments Represent Potential Therapeutic Targets. Cancer Microenvironment. 2010 Dec; 3(1): 29-47.View Publications

Contact Us

  Barnas Lab
601 Elmwood Ave/Box 695
Rochester, NY 14642