According to study results published in the Journal of Immunology, chronic exposure to staph bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) may be a risk factor for lupus. Mayo Clinic researchers found that mice exposed to low doses of a staph protein developed a lupus-like illness, including the development of autoantibodies and kidney disease. The staph protein (staphylococcal enterotoxin) activated T and B lymphocytes which played a role in the lupus-like illness.
Other autoimmune diseases in humans, including psoriasis, Kawasaki disease, and granulomatosis with polyangiitis, have been linked to carrying staph bacteria. Going forward, researchers will need to see if their findings in mice also apply to humans and whether the staph protein causes or exacerbates lupus in people genetically predisposed to lupus.
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