David Stephen Pisetsky, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine
Professor of Immunology
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Member of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute
Campus mail VA Med Ctr, 508 Fulton St, Durham, NC 27705
Phone (919) 286-6835
Email address david.pisetsky@duke.edu

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.

Education and Training

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


Pisetsky, David S., and Peter E. Lipsky. “Role of Antinuclear Antibody Determinations in Classification Criteria for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Comment on the Article by Leuchten et al.” Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 71, no. 5 (May 2019): 696. https://doi.org/10.1002/acr.23559.

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Pisetsky, David S., Diane M. Spencer, Peter E. Lipsky, and Brad H. Rovin. “Response to: 'Lack of standardization of ANA and implications for drug development and precision medicine' by Mahler.” Ann Rheum Dis 78, no. 5 (May 2019): e34. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2018-213399.

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Mobarrez, Fariborz, Elisabet Svenungsson, and David S. Pisetsky. “Microparticles as autoantigens in systemic lupus erythematosus.” Eur J Clin Invest 48, no. 12 (December 2018): e13010. https://doi.org/10.1111/eci.13010.

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Putterman, Chaim, David S. Pisetsky, Michelle Petri, Roberto Caricchio, Alan H. B. Wu, Ignacio Sanz, Jim C. Oates, et al. “The SLE-key test serological signature: new insights into the course of lupus.” Rheumatology (Oxford) 57, no. 9 (September 1, 2018): 1632–40. https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/key149.

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Stamm, Tanja Alexandra, Klaus Peter Machold, Daniel Aletaha, Farideh Alasti, Peter Lipsky, David Pisetsky, Robert Landewe, et al. “Induction of sustained remission in early inflammatory arthritis with the combination of infliximab plus methotrexate: the DINORA trial.” Arthritis Res Ther 20, no. 1 (August 9, 2018): 174. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13075-018-1667-z.

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Pisetsky, David S., Diane M. Spencer, Peter E. Lipsky, and Brad H. Rovin. “Assay variation in the detection of antinuclear antibodies in the sera of patients with established SLE.” Ann Rheum Dis 77, no. 6 (June 2018): 911–13. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2017-212599.

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