Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis May Involve A Form Of Sudden, Rapid Aging Of The Immune System

09.10.2009
Studies in laboratory mice and humans suggest that the immune system ages prematurely and malfunctions

Premature aging of the immune system appears to play a role in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to research scientists from the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and Sheba Medical Center in Israel.

A study published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine shows that CD4+ T cells, which grow and mature in the thymus before entering the bloodstream, are reduced in number in patients who have ALS as the thymus shrinks and malfunctions. Theoretically, devising therapies to support or replace these cells could be a strategy in treating the disease.

The research was led by Michal Schwartz, Ph.D., a visiting professor at the Center of Neuroimmunology and Neurogenesis in the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai and professor of neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.

The findings are consistent with evidence collected over a decade by Schwartz’s group suggesting that a well-functioning immune system plays a pivotal role in maintaining, protecting and repairing cells of the central nervous system. Studies conducted in animals have shown that boosting immune T-cell levels may reduce symptoms and slow progression of certain neurodegenerative diseases.

Results from the current study suggest that premature aging of the immune system and thus a decrease in protection from immune T cells could contribute to the aggressive and rapid progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which attacks motor neurons – nerve cells responsible for muscle strength and voluntary movements. The researchers found that thymic malfunction occurs simultaneously with motor neuron dysfunction, both in laboratory mice bred to mimic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and in humans suffering from the disease.

Motor neurons extend from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles of the body. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis damages motor neurons in the spinal cord, leading to their death, the inability to control muscle action, and the wasting away of muscle tissue. About 5,600 people are diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis each year. Up to 10 percent of cases are inherited because of certain gene mutations but the majority occur in the general population with no known cause.

Life expectancy varies greatly but generally ranges from two to five years after diagnosis. More than half of patients survive more than three years, and about 5 percent live 20 years, according to the ALS Association. The disease has been known to spontaneously stop progressing, and in rare cases, the symptoms have actually reversed. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is often referred to as Lou Gehrig disease in recognition of the baseball great whose career with the New York Yankees was cut short by the disease in 1939. He died two years later.

The thymus gland, where immune cells called T lymphocytes mature before entering the bloodstream, normally reaches its peak in size and production in childhood. It then slowly shrinks, becoming virtually nonexistent in the elderly, but the lifespan of newly produced T cells ranges from three to 30 years.

This study found that the thymus glands of mice and patients with the disease undergo accelerated degeneration. In addition to using laboratory tests that provide a noninvasive measure of thymic function, the researchers performed imaging scans on three relatively young patients and found no evidence of thymic remnants. Additional studies showed that patients with the disease had dramatically reduced numbers of five genes that are known to support immune responses. Patients also were found to have a significant deficiency of another gene that may make T cells susceptible to a process that causes cell death.

“If T-cell malfunction is confirmed to be a contributing factor to ALS, as we propose, therapeutic strategies may be aimed at overcoming this deficiency through rebuilding, restoring or transplanting the thymus,” said Schwartz, the journal article’s senior author.

The study was supported by the Israeli ALS Research Association, the Israeli Academy of Science, the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, and the Marciano Family Foundation.

Citation: The Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, “Thymic Involution in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis,” published online July 24, 2009.

Sandy Van | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Further information:
http://www.csmc.edu/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>