Prof LAU Chak Sing

Porf CS Lau

Head of Department
Chief of Service (Medicine), Queen Mary Hospital
Daniel C K Yu Professorship in Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology
Chair of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology

  • MBChB MD (Hons) FRCP (Edin, Glasg, Lond) FHKCP FHKAM (Medicine)
Research Profile
  • Role of dendritic cells in SLE pathogenesis
  • Molecular regulatory mechanisms of dendritic cells functions
  • Mechanistic studies of cellular immuno-dysregulation in SLE
  • Evaluation of the clinical outcome of SLE

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease that affects predominantly young females and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Immunologically, SLE is characterized by a loss of tolerance to self-antigens, T and B cell activation, and increased autoantibody production. Immune complex mediated vasculitis and specific antibody directed organ damage account for many of the clinical manifestations, however, the etiology of SLE remains unclear. Our team has identified abnormalities in various peripheral immune cell compartments in lupus patients. SLE patients, particularly those with active disease, show an increased apoptosis in conjunction with a decreased bcl-2 expression in the lymphocytes, in comparison with healthy individuals. In addition, SLE macrophages are deficient in removing apoptotic cells. It is proposed that the increased load of apoptotic cells provides additional 'fuel' for dendritic cells (DCs) activation and leads to the development of SLE. DCs are professional antigen presenting cells with important immune-regulatory functions. Our recent work has identified phenotypic and functional abnormalities in both the myeloid (m-) DCs and plasmacytoid (p-) DCs in peripheral blood of lupus patients. In particular, lupus pDCs have enhanced ability to induce T cell proliferation and more importantly, have enhanced ability to produce type-I interferon - a cytokine that is generally considered to have central involvement in SLE development. Our on-going work focuses on studying the microRNA regulatory mechanisms that mediate pDC abnormality in SLE pathogenesis. Using the established NZB/W F1 lupus model, we also study the cellular interaction of DCs with other immune cells such as Th17 cells, regulatory T and B cells in order to elucidate their respective roles in the disease development.

SLE research

Histo-pathological features of lupus nephritis in NZBW F1 mice

Selected Publications
  • Chan VS, Tsang HH, Tam RC, Lu L, Lau CS. B-cell-targeted therapies in systemic lupus erythematosus. Cell Mol Immuno, 2013; 10:133-42
  • Mak A, Isenberg DA, Lau CS. Global trends, potential mechanisms and early detection of organ damage in SLE. Nature Reviews Rheumatology, 2013; 9(5): 301-310
  • Chan VS, Nie YJ, Shen N, Yan S, Mok MY, and Lau CS. Distinct roles of myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells in systemic lupus erythematosus. Autoimmun Rev, 2012; 11: 890-7.
  • Yiu KH, Tse HF, Mok MY, Lau CS. Ethnic differences in cardiovascular risk in rheumatic disease: focus on Asians. Nat Rev Rheumatol, 2011; 7(10):609-18
  • Jin O, Kavikondala S, Mok MY, Sun L, Gu JR, Fu R, Chan A, Yeung J, Nie YJ, Lau CS. Abnormalities in circulating plasmacytoid dendritic cells in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Res Ther 2010; 12(4): R137
  • Mok MY, Lau CS. The burden and measurement of cardiovascular disease in systemic sclerosis. Nature Reviews Rheumatology 2010; 6(7): 430-434
  • Nie YJ, Mok MY, Chan GCF, Chan A, Lie AWK, Lau CS. Phenotypic and functional abnormalities of bone marrow-derived dendritic cells in systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Res Ther 2010; 12(3): R91
  • Nie YJ, Lau CS, Lie AK, Chan GC, Mok MY. Defective phenotype of mesenchymal stem cells in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus 2010; 19(7): 850-9
  • Mok MY, Wu HJ, Lo Y, Lau CS. The relation of interleukin 17 (IL-17) and IL-23 to Th1/Th2 cytokines and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus. The Journal of Rheumatology 2010; 37(10): 2046-2052
  • To CH, Mok CC, Tan SS, Ying KY, Wong RW, Lau CS. Prognostically distinct clinical patterns of systemic lupus erythematosus identified by cluster analysis. Lupus 2009; 18(14): 1267-1275
  • Lau CS, Mak A. The socioeconomic burden of SLE. Nature Reviews Rheumatology 2009; 5(7): 400-404
  • Reid DM, Devogelaer JP, Saag K, Roux C, Lau CS, Reginster JY, Papanstasiou P, Ferreira A, Hartl F, Fashola T, Mesenbrink P, Sambrook P. Zoledronic acid and risedronate in the prevention and treatment of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (HORIZON): a multicentre, double-blind, double-dummy, randomized controlled trial. Lancet 2009; 373(9671): 1253- 1263
  • Mak A, Cheak AAC, Tan JYS, Su HC, Ho RCM, Lau CS. Mycophenolate mofetil is as efficacious as but safer than cyclophosphamide in the treatment of proliferative lupus nephritis: a meta-analysis and meta-regression. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2009; 48(8): 944-952
  • Jin O, Kavikondala S, Sun L, Fu R, Mok MY, Chan A, Yeung J, Lau CS. Systemic lupus erythematosus patients have increased number of circulating plasmacytoid dendritic cells, but decreased myeloid dendritic cells with deficient CD83 expression. Lupus 2008; 17(7): 654-62
  • Ng MW, Lau CS, Chan TM, Wong WHS, Lau YL. Polymorphisms of the toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) gene with systemic lupus erythematosus in Chinese. Rheumatology 2005; 44(11): 1456-7
  • Mok CC, Ying KY, Tang S, Leung CY, Lee KW, Ng WL, Wong RWS, Lau CS. Predictors and outcome of renal flares after successful cyclophosphamide treatment for diffuse proliferative lupus glomerulonephritis. Arthritis Rheum 2004; 50(8): 2559-68
  • Ren Y, Tang J, Mok MY, Chan AWK, Wu A, Lau CS. Increased apoptotic neutrophils and macrophages and impaired macrophage phagocytic clearance of apoptotic neutrophils in systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum 2003; 48(10): 2888-97
  • Mok CC, CTK Ho, KW Chan, CS Lau, RWS Wong. Outcome and prognostic indicators of diffuse proliferative lupus glomerulonephritis treated with sequential oral cyclophosphamide and azathioprine. Arthritis Rheum 2002; 46(4): 1003-13
  • Ip WK, Lau YL, Chan SY, Mok CC, Chan D, Lau CS. Mutations of the mannose binding lectin gene and rheumatoid arthritis in southern Chinese. Arthritis Rheum 2000; 43(8): 1679-87


Grant Record
General Research Fund, HKRGC: The role of regulatory microRNAs in plasmacytoid dendritic cell functions in systemic lupus erythematosus immunopathogenesis. 2013-2015 (PI)
  • Seed Fund, Stem cell and Regenerative Medicine Consortium, HKU: Immunogenicity of hESC and iPSC-derived grafts using a humanized mouse model. 2011-12 (Co-PI)
  • Seed Fund for Basic Research, HKU: Characterisation of the features and functional changes of bone marrow dendritic cells in systemic lupus erythematosus. 2010-12 (PI)
  • Lupus UK: East of Scotland Lupus Nurse and the setting up of a nationwide systemic lupus erythematosus registry. 2009-2012 (Co-PI)

Key Offices
  • Chief of Service (Medicine), Queen Mary Hospital
  • Head of Department (Medicine), The University of Hong Kong
  • President, Hong Kong Academy of Medicine
  • Past President (2006-2008), Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology