David Stephen Pisetsky

David Stephen Pisetsky

Professor of Medicine

Studies in my laboratory concern the immunological properties of DNA as related to two main topics: 1) the induction of anti-DNA responses in systemic lupus erythematosus; and 2) the stimulation of innate immunity by bacterial DNA. These topics are closely linked since we have established novel disease models in which lupus-like illness can be induced in normal mice by bacterial DNA under conditions in which mammalian DNA is inactive. This model has been useful in elucidating mechanisms of DNA antigen drive in autoimmunity.

To pursue these studies, our laboratory conducts investigations in the following areas: 1) specificity of anti-DNA for epitopes on mammalian and bacterial DNA; 2) molecular analysis of murine mononclonal anti-DNA antibodies; 3) histopathological analyses of DNA-immunized mice; 4) in vitro analysis of proliferation, antibody production and cytokine expression in human and murine immune cells; and 5) analysis of DNA binding to cell surface molecules on B cells, T cells and macrophages. Results of these studies have allowed identification of at least two structural motifs that are immunoactive. We are also exploring the impact of chemical modifications of the DNA backbone.

In addition to work on the immunology of DNA, I am also involved in clinical trials related to new immunomodulatory agents in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis as well as serological markers of disease activity.

The areas of research for which I am known nationally are anti-DNA antibodies, systemic lupus erythematosus and immunological properties of DNA. I have written textbook chapters and reviews on all these subjects.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor of Medicine
  • Professor of Immunology
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
  • Member of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute

Contact Information

  • Office Location: VA Med Ctr, 508 Fulton St, Durham, NC 27705
  • Office Phone: (919) 286-6835
  • Email Address: david.pisetsky@duke.edu


  • Yale University School of Medicine, 1974
  • Yale University School of Medicine, 1974
  • M.D. Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, 1973
  • Ph.D. Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, 1972

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Rutledge, HR; Jiang, W; Yang, J; Warg, LA; Schwartz, DA; Pisetsky, DS; Yang, IV, Gene expression profiles of RAW264.7 macrophages stimulated with preparations of LPS differing in isolation and purity., Innate Immunity, vol 18 no. 1 (2012), pp. 80-88 [10.1177/1753425910393540] [abs].
  • Distler, JHW; Akhmetshina, A; Dees, C; Jüngel, A; Stürzl, M; Gay, S; Pisetsky, DS; Schett, G; Distler, O, Induction of apoptosis in circulating angiogenic cells by microparticles., Arthritis and Rheumatism, vol 63 no. 7 (2011), pp. 2067-2077 [10.1002/art.30361] [abs].
  • Ullal, AJ; Reich, CF; Clowse, M; Criscione-Schreiber, LG; Tochacek, M; Monestier, M; Pisetsky, DS, Microparticles as antigenic targets of antibodies to DNA and nucleosomes in systemic lupus erythematosus., Journal of Autoimmunity, vol 36 no. 3-4 (2011), pp. 173-180 [10.1016/j.jaut.2011.02.001] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS; Gauley, J; Ullal, AJ, Microparticles as a source of extracellular DNA., Immunologic Research, vol 49 no. 1-3 (2011), pp. 227-234 [10.1007/s12026-010-8184-8] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS, Platelet microparticles: making blood a bad humor., The Journal of rheumatology, vol 38 no. 4 (2011), pp. 590-592 [10.3899/jrheum.101359] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS, The role of HMGB1 in efferocytosis: when the dead go unburied. Focus on "HMGB1 inhibits macrophage activity in efferocytosis through binding to the alphavbeta3-integrin"., American journal of physiology. Cell physiology, vol 299 no. 6 (2010), pp. C1253-C1255 [10.1152/ajpcell.00397.2010] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS; Ullal, AJ, The blood nucleome in the pathogenesis of SLE., Autoimmunity Reviews, vol 10 no. 1 (2010), pp. 35-37 [10.1016/j.autrev.2010.07.007] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS, Charlie's List., Annals of internal medicine, vol 153 no. 5 (2010) [10.7326/0003-4819-153-5-201009070-00012] [abs].
  • Gauley, J; Pisetsky, DS, The release of microparticles by RAW 264.7 macrophage cells stimulated with TLR ligands., Journal of leukocyte biology, vol 87 no. 6 (2010), pp. 1115-1123 [10.1189/jlb.0709465] [abs].
  • Ullal, AJ; Pisetsky, DS, The release of microparticles by Jurkat leukemia T cells treated with staurosporine and related kinase inhibitors to induce apoptosis., Apoptosis, vol 15 no. 5 (2010), pp. 586-596 [10.1007/s10495-010-0470-3] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS, HMGB1: a dangerous player in lupus pathogenesis., The Journal of rheumatology, vol 37 no. 4 (2010), pp. 689-691 [10.3899/jrheum.091459] [abs].
  • Ullal, AJ; Pisetsky, DS; Reich, CF, Use of SYTO 13, a fluorescent dye binding nucleic acids, for the detection of microparticles in in vitro systems., Cytometry, vol 77 no. 3 (2010), pp. 294-301 [10.1002/cyto.a.20833] [abs].
  • Grundtman, C; Bruton, J; Yamada, T; Ostberg, T; Pisetsky, DS; Harris, HE; Andersson, U; Lundberg, IE; Westerblad, H, Effects of HMGB1 on in vitro responses of isolated muscle fibers and functional aspects in skeletal muscles of idiopathic inflammatory myopathies., The FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, vol 24 no. 2 (2010), pp. 570-578 [10.1096/fj.09-144782] [abs].
  • Beyer, C; Pisetsky, DS, The role of microparticles in the pathogenesis of rheumatic diseases., Nature Reviews Rheumatology, vol 6 no. 1 (2010), pp. 21-29 [10.1038/nrrheum.2009.229] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS; Vrabie, IA, Antibodies to DNA: infection or genetics?, Lupus, vol 18 no. 13 (2009), pp. 1176-1180 [10.1177/0961203309106492] [abs].
  • Su, K-Y; Pisetsky, DS, The role of extracellular DNA in autoimmunity in SLE., Scandinavian Journal of Immunology, vol 70 no. 3 (2009), pp. 175-183 [10.1111/j.1365-3083.2009.02300.x] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS; Rönnblom, L, Systemic lupus erythematosus: a matter of life and death., Arthritis and Rheumatism, vol 60 no. 6 (2009), pp. 1567-1570 [10.1002/art.24531] [abs].
  • Gauley, J; Pisetsky, DS, The translocation of HMGB1 during cell activation and cell death., Autoimmunity (Informa), vol 42 no. 4 (2009), pp. 299-301 [abs].
  • Crowley, SD; Vasievich, MP; Ruiz, P; Gould, SK; Parsons, KK; Pazmino, AK; Facemire, C; Chen, BJ; Kim, H-S; Tran, TT; Pisetsky, DS; Barisoni, L; Prieto-Carrasquero, MC; Jeansson, M; Foster, MH; Coffman, TM, Glomerular type 1 angiotensin receptors augment kidney injury and inflammation in murine autoimmune nephritis., Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol 119 no. 4 (2009), pp. 943-953 [10.1172/JCI34862] [abs].
  • Reich, CF; Pisetsky, DS, The content of DNA and RNA in microparticles released by Jurkat and HL-60 cells undergoing in vitro apoptosis., Experimental Cell Research, vol 315 no. 5 (2009), pp. 760-768 [10.1016/j.yexcr.2008.12.014] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS, Microparticles as biomarkers in autoimmunity: from dust bin to center stage., Arthritis Research and Therapy, vol 11 no. 6 (2009) [10.1186/ar2856] [abs].
  • Pisetsky, DS; Lipsky, PE, Microparticles as autoadjuvants in the pathogenesis of SLE., Nature Reviews Rheumatology, vol 6 no. 6, pp. 368-372 [10.1038/nrrheum.2010.66] [abs].