Autophagy: A new concept in autoimmunity regulation and a novel therapeutic option

Srinivasa Reddy Bonam, Fengjuan Wang, Sylviane Muller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Nowadays, pharmacologic treatments of autoinflammatory diseases are largely palliative rather than curative. Most of them result in non-specific immunosuppression, which can be associated with broad disruption of natural and induced immunity with significant and sometimes serious unwanted injuries. Among the novel strategies that are under development, tools that modulate the immune system to restore normal tolerance mechanisms are central. In these approaches, peptide therapeutics constitute a class of agents that display many physicochemical advantages. Within this class of potent drugs, the phosphopeptide P140 is very promising for treating patients with lupus, and likely also patients with other chronic inflammatory diseases. We discovered that P140 targets autophagy, a finely orchestrated catabolic process, involved in the regulation of inflammation and in the biology of immune cells. In vitro, P140 acts directly on a particular form of autophagy called chaperone-mediated autophagy, which seems to be hyperactivated in certain subsets of lymphocytes in lupus and in other autoinflammatory settings. In lupus, the “correcting” effect of P140 on autophagy results in a weaker signaling of autoreactive T cells, leading to a significant improvement of pathophysiological status of treated mice. These findings also demonstrated ex vivo in human cells, open novel avenues of therapeutic intervention in pathological conditions, in which specific and not general targeting is highly pursued in the context of the new action plans for personalized medicines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-32
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
StatePublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoinflammatory diseases
  • Autophagy pathways
  • Modulators of autophagy
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Therapeutic peptides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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