Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common autoimmune disease characterized by a chronic inflammation of peripheral joints (arthritis). This inflammation causes swelling of the joints, pain and inflammatory-triggered degenerative changes in the joint structure. If persistent, the inflammation can result in systemic comorbidities, affecting, for example, the cardiovascular system or the bone. In recent years, research has focused on the later inflammatory stages of rheumatoid arthritis and studied mainly the signaling pathways contributing to the end-stage inflammation during this disease.

onset of rheumatoid arthritis

Our DFG research group FOR2886 aims to unravel the causes of RA and seeks to understand early events contributing to the onset of inflammation. The main focus here is to understand the influence of the natural bacterial flora or the microbiome as well as a number of environmental factors (including nutrition and salt consumption) on our immune system and in particular their impact on immune tolerance. In addition, we aim to address why a a subset of patients displaying a prototypic and RA-specific autoimmune response remain asymptomatic for years, while others suffer from an early and aggressive onset of disease. A better understanding of the causative molecular and cellular relationships would not only enable new, more effective and individualized therapeutic strategies, but above all, for the first time, open up options for curing this disease. Accordingly, we will conduct a first study applying a sequential combination of several therapeutic protein molecules (biologics) aiming to reprogram the (auto-)immune response in RA patients.


It is well known that a healthy, fiber-rich diet improves our well-being and strengthens our intestinal flora. What is new is that the morning cereal also has a positive influence on the disease process of rheumatoid arthritis. The working group around Prof. Dr. Mario Zaiss explained at the Long Nig...

The exact causes of chronic inflammatory joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis are still poorly understood. A team of researchers around Prof. Gerhard Krönke has now chosen a new approach to better understand the underlying mechanisms. Stephan Culemann and Dr. Anika Grüneboom (Internal Medicin...

A well-balanced intestinal microbiome is an important regulator of bone density in the body. Changes in the composition of bacteria in the gut can increase bone loss in certain diseases (e.g. osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis). Conversely, this process can be partially prevented and positively in...

At very summery temperatures our first meeting of the research group took place. In this get-together, the new doctoral students were introduced and the first progress of the projects was presented. Many thanks to all who helped and gave lectures, we are looking forward to the cooperation!

The first meeting of our DFG research group FOR2886 PANDORA will take place on 25.07.2019 at the Nikolaus-Fiebiger-Center in Erlangen. At this kick-off meeting, the first results of the projects and the new project members will be presented to facilitate further cooperation within the team.

Prof. Dr. med. Gerhard Krönke