Immune Checkpoint Deficiencies in Large Vessel Vasculitis

Dr. Weyand has a special interest in tissue-damaging immune responses in rheumatoid arthritis and large vessel vasculitis. She and her collaborators have established several preclinical models of autoimmune inflammation, including a chimera model in which human synovial tissue and human blood vessels are engrafted into immunodeficient mice. In these model systems, Dr. Weyand’s research team has defined the role of T cells and dendritic cells in deviating from protective to destructive immunity. Over the last decade, she has devoted special emphasis to the remodeling of the immune system with aging, how chronic disease ages the immune system, and how aged immune cells cause inflammation. This studies have identified molecular defects in metabolic programming and in DNA damage responses that render T cells tissue-invasive and pro-inflammatory. In recent work, she and her team have implicated defects in immuno-protective checkpoints in the breakdown of the arterial wall immunoprivilege, connecting the overall threshold setting of the immune system to organ-specific autoimmune disease.