The role of immune effector fibroblast subsets in treatment refractory RA


Fibroblasts are cells which form the lining of the joint. During inflammation these cells expand in number and exist as several distinct subtypes that have different roles in driving inflammation and damage depending on where these cells are located in the lining tissue. We have shown that the presence of certain subtypes of fibroblast within the joint lining is critical in determining the severity and persistence of inflammation. What is not known, is how the proportion, and type of fibroblasts within the joint lining relates to treatment response, treatment failure and the development of refractory disease.

Facts and Figures

Project Lead
A Croft
University of Birmingham
FOREUM research grant: € 200.000

Meet the Team

Project Lead

A Croft
University of Birmingham
C Buckley
University of Birmingham


To determine the role of specific subtypes of synovial fibroblasts (cells which form the lining of the joint) in the development of treatment refractory disease.


  • WP1: Fibroblast heterogeneity in refractory disease
  • WP2: Mouse in vivo studies
  • Dissemination activities: @ EWRR, EULAR, ACR


  • Ilya Korsunsky, Kevin Wei, Mathilde Pohin, ..., Christopher D. Buckley, Michael B. Brenner, Soumya Raychaudhuri. Cross-tissue, single-cell stromal atlas identifies shared pathological fibroblast phenotypes in four chronic inflammatory diseases. Med (N Y). 2022 May 26; S2666-6340(22)00184-2. doi: 10.1016/j.medj.2022.05.002. Online ahead of print
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Patient Voice

Patient participants within the Birmingham Rheumatology Research Patient Partnership (R2P2) have participated in the designing of the clinical studies within this project and will continue to do so and provide feedback on their experiences of synovial biopsy during the course of the project so we can identify ways to improve their experience. Findings of the study will be presented and discussed with the group to we can consider the implications for patients. The team will be involved in the dissemination of the research outputs from all aspects of the proposal to patient groups and the wider public and in the publication of the study results.

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