Rheumatology Research Unit
The Rheumatology Research Unit (RRU) results from a partnership between the Instituto de Medicina Molecular/Lisbon Medical School and the Rheumatology Department of the Santa Maria Hospital. Basic scientists and clinicians work together promoting translational research and clinical excellence in the field of Rheumatology.
Our specific research aims are the study of the pathogenesis of inflammatory joint diseases (Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Spondyloarthropaties and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and bone disorders in order to characterize potential tools for early diagnosis and prognosis and potential targets for novel therapies.
Ongoing research projects are devoted to the study of neutrophils, monocytes and B cells in very early arthritis, to the analysis of the effects of inflammation on atherogenesis in RA and SLE and to the relevance of TNF polymorphisms in the prognosis and pharmacogenetics of several joint diseases. We are also involved in research of bone quality in cooperation with Instituto Superior Técnico. All these research efforts are based on a dual approach which includes human samples and animal models of rheumatic diseases. Finally, we are involved in clinical trials, development of registries (in collaboration with the Portuguese Society of Rheumatology) and epidemiological studies, in providing services to the community, including expertise advisory to governmental institutions and in postgraduate teaching.
» Research Areas
» Group Leader
» Research Team
João Eurico Fonseca
MD (1992) and PhD (2004) in Medicine - Rheumatology, Lisbon School of Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Assistant Professor at the Lisbon School of Medicine, University of Lisbon
Rheumatologist, Santa Maria Hospital, Lisbon
» Ongoing Research Projects
2010-2012 An assessment of bone mineral and organic phases in an osteoporosis mice model and their influence on the mechanical properties of bone (European Calcified Tissue Society /Servier Fellowship).
2010-2014 Response to anti-TNF treatment biomarkers in Rheumatoid Arthritis (ref. HMPS-ICS/SAU-ICT/002/2010).
2012-2014 Differences in osteoclastic activity between rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis (Private funding).
2011-2013 Clinical, serological and genetic predictors of evolution, outcome and response to treatment in Portuguese patients with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (Private funding).
2011-2013 Collaboration in “A National Genome Wide Association Study to Predict the Response to Anti-TNF Treatment in Rheumatoid Arthritis” (Private funding).
2012-2015 How inflammation early affects bone's nano-properties at arthritis onset (Private funding).
2012-2015- Coupling of atherosclerosis progression and bone disturbances in rheumatoid arthritis. (Private funding).
» Science and Society Activities
Sociedade Portuguesa de Reumatologia
Serviços de Reumatologia, Hospital Egas Moniz , Hospital Garcia Orta e HUC
Serviços de Ortopedia e Pediatria, Hospital Santa Maria Departamento de Imunologia da Faculdade de Ciências Médicas
Unidades de Imunologia Celular e de Biologia Celular do Sistema Imunológico, IMM
Centro de Estatística e Aplicações, Universidade de Lisboa
Departamento de Mecânica, Instituto Superior Técnico
Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Universidade de Coimbra
Broad Institute and Brigham Women Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Centre for Rheumatology, University College London, London, UK
Department of Medicine, Helsinki University, Helsinki, Finland
Amsterdam Academic Medical Centre
2011 Participation on Health Innovation & Technology Transfer Showcase/ Workshop "Investigação de translação e transferência de tecnologia na área da Saúde", Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal
2011 The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles and The Portuguese First Lady, Maria Cavaco Silva, visited IMM and RRU, mediated by APOROS (National Association against Osteoporosis).
2011 Participation in TV and radio programs
2009 Cientistas ao Palco - Noite dos investigadores 2009 - "O Restaurante IMM"
2007-2009 Ciência Viva Projects
» Selected Publications
2012 Bolsa de Investigação Sociedade Portuguesa de Reumatologia/ MSD 2011 (was awarded to Elsa Sousa)
2010 Senior Clinical Award, Harvard Medical School- Portugal Program ( was awarded to Helena Canhão)
2010 ECTS/Servier award 2010 ( was awarded to Saba Abdulghani)
2009 Bial Prize for Clinical Medicine 2008 (was awarded to João Eurico Fonseca, Helena Canhão, Maria José Santos, Ana Filipa Mourão, Elsa Sousa, Joana Caetano Lopes, Rita Moura, Pamela Weinmann, José Alberto Pereira da Silva, Jaime Branco and Mário Viana Queiroz)
2005 EULAR Young Investigator Award from European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR),(was awarded to João Eurico Fonseca)
» Useful Links
Cascão R, Vidal B, Raquel H, Neves-Costa A, Figueiredo N, Gupta V, Fonseca JE, Moita LF. (2012) Effective treatment of rat adjuvant-induced arthritis by celastrol. Autoimmun Rev. Mar 3.
Moura RA, Graca L, Fonseca JE.(2012) To B or Not to B the Conductor of Rheumatoid Arthritis Orchestra. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. Jun 21.
Polido-Pereira J, Rodrigues AM, Canhão H, Saraiva F, da Silva JA, Fonseca JE (2012) Primary biliary cirrhosis in a rheumatoid arthritis patient treated with rituximab, a case-based review. Clin Rheumatol. Feb,31(2):385-9.
Cascão R, Polido-Pereira J, Canhão H, Rodrigues AM, Navalho M, Raquel H, Mourão AF, Resende C , Fonseca JE, Moita LF (2012) Caspase-1 is active since the early phase of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Clin Exp Rheumatol. Jan-Feb,30(1):144.
Moura RA, Cascão R, Perpétuo I, Canhão H, Vieira-Sousa E, Mourão AF, Rodrigues AM, Polido-Pereira J, Queiroz MV, Rosário HS, Souto-Carneiro MM, Graca L, Fonseca JE (2011) Cytokine pattern in very early rheumatoid arthritis favours B-cell activation and survival. Rheumatology (Oxford) 50(2):278-82.
Caetano-Lopes J, Lopes A, Rodrigues A, Fernandes D, Perpétuo I, Monjardino T, Lucas R, Monteiro J, Konttinen YT, Canhão H, Fonseca JE (2011) Upregulation of inflammatory genes and downregulation of sclerostin gene expression are key elements in the early phase of fragility fracture healing. PLoS One. 11;6(2):e16947.
Santos MJ, Fernandes D, Caetano-Lopes J, Perpetuo IP, Vidal B, Canhao H, Fonseca JE. (2011) Lymphotoxin-α 252 A>G polymorphism: a link between disease susceptibility and dyslipidemia in rheumatoid arthritis? J Rheumatol. 38(7):1244-9.
Polido-Pereira J, Vieira-Sousa E, Fonseca JE (2011) Rheumatoid arthritis: What is refractory disease and how to manage it? Autoimmun Rev. 10(11):707-13.
Carmona-Fernandes D, Santos MJ, Perpétuo IP, Fonseca JE, Canhão H (2011) Soluble receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand/osteoprotegerin ratio is increased in systemic lupus erythematosus patients. Arthritis Res Ther. 25; 13(5): R175.
Moura RA, Weinmann P, Pereira PA, Caetano-Lopes J, Canhão H, Sousa E, Mourão AF, Rodrigues AM, Queiroz MV, Souto-Carneiro MM, Graça L, Fonseca JE.(2010) Alterations on peripheral blood B cell subpopulations in very early arthritis patients. Rheumatology (Oxford).49(6):1082-92
Caetano-Lopes J, Nery AM, Canhão H, Duarte J, Cascão R, Rodrigues A, Perpétuo I, Abdulghani S, Amaral PM, Sakaguchi S, Konttinen YT, Graça L, Vaz MF, Fonseca JE.(2010) Chronic arthritis leads to disturbances in the bone collagen network. Arthritis Res Ther, 12: R9
Cascão R, Rosário HS, Souto-Carneiro MM, Fonseca JE.(2010) Neutrophils in Rheumatoid Arthritis: more than simple final effectors. Autoimmun Rev.9 (8):531-5
Mourão AF, Amaral M, Caetano-Lopes J, Isenberg D.(2009) An analysis of joint replacement in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus 18, 1298-1302
Caetano-Lopes J, Nery AM, Henriques R, Canhão H, Duarte J, Amaral PM, Vale M, Moura RA, Pereira PA, Weinmann P, Abdulghani S, Souto-Carneiro M, Rego P, Monteiro J, Sakagushi S, Queiroz MV, Konttinen YT, Graça L, Vaz MF, Fonseca JE.(2009) Chronic arthritis directly induces quantitative and qualitative bone disturbances leading to compromised biomechanical properties. Clin Exp Rheumatol., 27: 475-82
Abdulghani S, Caetano-Lopes J, Canhão H, Fonseca JE.(2009) Biomechanical effects of inflammatory diseases on bone-rheumatoid arthritis as a paradigm. Autoimmun Rev., 8: 668-71
Mourão AF, Caetano-Lopes J, Costa P, Canhão H, Santos MJ, Pinto P, Brito I, Nicola P, Cavaleiro J, Teles J, Sousa A, Gomes JM, Branco J, da Costa JT, Pedro JG, de Queiroz MV, Fonseca JE.(2009) Tumor necrosis factor-alpha -308 genotypes influence inflammatory activity and TNF-alpha serum concentrations in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. J Rheumatol., 36: 837-42