Platelets are involved in clot formation. However, they have multiple effects. Notably, they are involved in immune system regulation, participating in the control of infections, and may complicate auto-immune diseases and cancers. Abnormal platelet count (thrombocytopenia and thrombocytosis) reflect disease severity in many condition and therefore can be used as a biomarker of disease severity in patients acutely admitted to hospital for medical conditions.
In our research we studied complex chemical processes and genetic (DNA) changes in blood cells (B and T lymphocytes) in patients with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). A relationship between changes in these chemical processes with disease activity was found, probably explaining part of the pathogenesis of the diseases and opening new ways for treatment strategies.
Autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP) is a rare form of inflammation of the pancreas. It carries a higher risk for metabolic and infectious complications, related to glycaemic derangements and biliary strictures or immunosuppressive treatment, respectively. Moreover, AIP is prone to relapse, requiring multiple courses of glucocorticoids that might exacerbate diabetes. Yet, to date there are only scant data on predictors of disease relapse, while data related to risk factors for long-term metabolic and infectious complications are absent.
My project aims at retrospectively identifying baseline disease-related or treatment-related features that are related to long-term outcomes (in terms of disease activity and infectious and metabolic complications). Once recognized, these putative predictors will be tested and employed in a prospective fashion, and ultimately will provide a huge step forward to a more tailored treatment approach.