How does aberrant innate immune activation damage the microvasculature of the brain?

Year of award: 2019


  • Dr David Hunt    

    University of Edinburgh

Project summary

A healthy brain requires an excellent blood supply. This blood supply depends on a network of tiny capillaries, which are fragile and easily damaged. Damage to these small blood vessels can cause brain disease. Finding out what damages these vessels could help to prevent such diseases.

We have shown that the immune molecule interferon can damage the small blood vessels of the brain. Interferon is produced by the immune system to fight viruses, but the body can produce high levels of it when the immune system malfunctions. We will identify how and why damage to the small blood vessels occurs.

Our findings will help to determine if we can prevent brain damage in immune diseases where interferon levels are high for many years, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, an immune disease which affects millions of people worldwide.