Neuro-immune regulation and central nervous impact on rheumatic diseases


Chronic pain and fatigue are major and severe symptoms in several rheumatic diseases, often reported by the patients to cause significant distress and reduction of quality of life. We recently published data indicating that joint inflammation in both RA and experimental arthritis affects the central nervous system (CNS), and in RA, these mechanisms seem to be related to fatigue (see publication list below). Our general research focus is the impact of inflammation on CNS and cerebral symptoms, with a special focus on central nervous mechanisms of pain regulation. For the latter, ongoing clinical studies using imaging techniques (such as fMRI, documented in studies of CNS pain processing) are combined with quantitative sensory pain testing, and the effects of biologic therapy on pain processing are investigated. Moreover, as a part of a EU funded project, pain and fatigue patterns in early RA patients are combined with proteomic analyses, for identification and validation of biological markers for generalized pain. A similar approach will also be used for mapping of neuro-markers in SLE with cerebral manifestations. In a translational approach, we also investigate the impact of arthritis on CNS, with a specific focus on central mechanisms of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, known to be important for neuro-immune regulation in several inflammatory conditions (Borovikova, Nature 2000). Increased knowledge in bidirectional neuro-immune pathways may lead to novel therapeutic strategies of immune suppression and fatigue/pain regulation both in RA and other inflammatory diseases and pain conditions.


Selected publications

Lampa J, Westman M, Kadetoff D, Agréus A, Le Maître E, Gillis-Haegerstrand C, et al. Peripheral inflammatory disease associated with centrally activated IL-1 system in humans and mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2012 Jul;109(31):12728-33.

Kadetoff D, Lampa J, Westman M, Andersson M, Kosek E. Evidence of central inflammation in fibromyalgia-increased cerebrospinal fluid interleukin-8 levels. J. Neuroimmunol. 2012 Jan;242(1-2):33-8.

Westman M, Saha S, Morshed M, Lampa J. Lack of acetylcholine nicotine alpha 7 receptor suppresses development of collagen-induced arthritis and adaptive immunity. Clin. Exp. Immunol. 2010 Oct;162(1):62-7.

Westman M, Engström M, Catrina A, Lampa J. Cell specific synovial expression of nicotinic alpha 7 acetylcholine receptor in rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Scand. J. Immunol. 2009 Aug;70(2):136-40.

Carlens C, Brandt L, Klareskog L, Lampa J, Askling J. The inflammatory reflex and risk for rheumatoid arthritis: a case-control study of human vagotomy. Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2007 Mar;66(3):414-6.