Glucocorticoids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs effective in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. However, their clinical use is limited due to profound systemic side effects, including muscle wasting, osteoporosis and heart disease. To deliver their clinical effects, glucocorticoids depend on the enzyme 11β-HSD1 which locally activates them within target tissues and mediates both the positive anti-inflammatory actions and negative systemic side effects of glucocorticoids.
Claire’s PhD research aims to understand the role of steroid metabolism in macrophages, key immune cells in the initiation, maintenance and resolution of inflammation. She is currently studying the importance of 11β-HSD1 in macrophage inflammatory polarisation and function, and in paracrine signalling with stromal cells such as fibroblasts, with the aim to target glucocorticoids more effectively.