The rheumatic diseases are autoimmune processes, which by definition involve aberrations in the immune system. Studies investigating various aspects of immune responses are therefore of potential relevance to furthering the understanding of the pathophysiology of the rheumatic diseases and developing new therapeutic approaches. This includes studies of the immune cells in rheumatic diseases such as JRA, RA, Kawasaki disease and dermatomyositis, as well as studies of the basic biology of cells comprising the immune system, such as macrophages, monocytes, lymphocytes and dendritic cells.

The technology provided by the core is fundamental to the study of the biology of cells of the immune system. The core allows analysis of cell phenotypes at a single cell level as well as for isolation of specific subpopulations of immune cells for further study. The core has been instrumental in furthering research relevant to rheumatic diseases. Flow cytometry analysis can identify specific cell populations in small samples such as synovial fluids and synovial tissues. Given the very small amounts of fluid often obtained from the joints of children with arthritis, this is judged to be a particularly important component of the center. Importantly, the technical expertise and equipment provided through this core have significantly advanced studies involving gene expression analyses in the rheumatic diseases and underlying basic mechanisms of the pathology of autoimmune diseases.

The Integrative Cell Phenotyping and Morphology Core (ICPMC) will provide technical expertise, assistance and equipment to investigators in the research base whose studies require single cell analysis. Expertise and assistance will be provided by core personnel in the following areas:

  • Cell surface phenotype analysis
  • Intracellular cytokine analysis
  • Cell cycle analysis
  • DNA index analysis
  • Apoptosis analysis
  • Gene expression analysis (green fluorescent protein, β-galactosidase)
  • Calcium flux analysis
  • Cell sorting
  • Antigen-specific T cell analysis
  • Morphological cell phenotyping

In addition, the core will facilitate the acquisition, analysis and storage of immunophenotyping data, maintain standards and quality control for immunophenotyping procedures, and assist in the development of new techniques as needed.