Van Steendam Katleen

Katleen Van Steendam 

phone: ++32 9 264 83 56
fax: ++32 9 220 66 88


Dysregulated adaptive immunity in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis


The immune system is a complex network of cells, proteins and tissues that protects multicellular organisms against invading pathogens. A crucial point of the immune response is the ability to distinguish between self and non-self. Dysregulation of this process can lead to pathological conditions such as autoimmunity. During autoimmune reactions, self-antigens are recognized as non-self and a T and/or B cell immune response is initialized. The best known dysregulation of the adaptive immune response in autoimmune diseases is the production of autoantibodies.

Two autoimmune diseases in which autoantibodies are present are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic sclerosis (SSc).

In RA, we analyse the T cell response to citrullinated proteins and also focus on the relevant antigens for the production of antibodies against citrullinated antigens. Therefore, we focus on the immune complexes in serum and synovial fluid of RA patients. Citrullinated vimentin was found as important antigen. In SSc, we analyse the different techniques to detect ANA in SSc. Therefore, routine techniques such as indirect immunofluorescence and line-immunoassay, as well as timeconsuming techniques such as protein radio-immunoprecipitation, Western blotting and RNA-immunoprecipitation are used. Attention is also paid to new reactivities.