The Animal Model Program provides the following expertise and services:
Dr. Kristine Kuhn’s clinical and research interests are related to spondyloarthritis with a special emphasis for those with overlapping Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). Research has shown that 30-50% of patients with spondyloarthritis will develop bowel inflammation and about 50% of patients with IBD develop disease outside of the intestines that affects their eyes, skin, and joints, which prompts consultation with a rheumatologist. Treatment options for patients with IBD-associated arthritis are extremely limited compared to what is available to those with rheumatoid arthritis.
The overarching hypothesis of Dr. Kuhn’s research program is that specific microbe-mucosal interactions influence the generation of systemic inflammation and the autoimmune diseases spondyloarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This pathogenic process develops through stimulation of locally-generated proteins, metabolites, or cells in the correct genetic setting. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that autoimmune disease may result from microbial-mucosal interactions. Microbial dysbiosis occurs in new onset seropositive rheumatoid arthritis and in established spondyloarthritis; however, the causal relationship between microbiota and disease is unknown. Dr. Kuhn’s lab aims to identify these causal relationships to understand disease pathogenesis and to reveal novel treatment targets in these diseases.