Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Immune cell activity linked to worsening COPD

16.12.2009
Dendritic cell changes suggest new strategy to identify and treat debilitating lung disease

A new study links chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, with increased activity of cells that act as sentinels to activate the body's immune system.

The University of Michigan and Veterans Affairs research adds to growing awareness of the immune system's role in COPD, a serious, progressive lung disease that affects more than 12 million Americans with wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightening and other symptoms. Understanding immune factors is key if doctors are to find better ways to detect and treat the disease early when patients might benefit most, believe some COPD researchers.

Nearly all people diagnosed with COPD have emphysema or chronic bronchitis or most commonly, both conditions. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Most people with COPD are smokers or former smokers.

"We found that dendritic cells, a type of immune cell that initiates immune responses, are in the lung interacting with lymphocytes, and that these dendritic cells seem to get more active as the disease goes on. If we could alter or stop their action, perhaps we could stop the disease from progressing," says the study's senior author Jeffrey L. Curtis, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and chief of the pulmonary and critical care medicine section at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

The study appears in the December 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Lung damage occurs well before people with COPD are aware of symptoms. By the time they seek medical help, the destructive forces of chronic lung inflammation often have taken a heavy toll. Immune cells in repetitive overdrive play a key role in that inflammation response, COPD researchers increasingly believe.

Research details

Curtis and his research team analyzed the activity of dendritic cells and other immune cells in lung tissue from patients at early and more severe stages of COPD. They found that as the disease progresses, multiple types of dendritic cells located in different parts the lung produce more of a stimulatory molecule associated with increased immune system activity. They also found two significant signs of increased activity in CD4+ T cells, important immune cells that, when activated, communicate with and direct other immune cells.

"Our data suggest that CD4+ T cells are more activated in later stages of COPD," says Christine M. Freeman, the study's first author and a research investigator in internal medicine at U-M.

"This is not necessarily a good thing, because increased activation suggests that there is an inappropriate and excessive immune response taking place in the lungs of patients with severe COPD."

One strategy to help prevent COPD from worsening could be to make dendritic cells less inflammatory, says Curtis, adding that it is a significant challenge to intervene in the immune system without undermining its ability to fight infection.

Key facts about COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a leading cause of disability and killed more than 125,000 Americans over age 25 in 2005. It affects slightly more women than men.

Most people under the umbrella term COPD have emphysema or chronic bronchitis, or both. But asthma, respiratory infections, air pollutants and genetic factors also play a role.

People with emphysema suffer from severe shortness of breath that makes even simple daily tasks like dressing difficult. People with chronic bronchitis experience difficulty breathing, coughing and excessive mucus.

An estimated 40 percent of smokers get COPD. Recent research suggests the disease is more common than previously thought.

Ex-smokers remain at risk. It's common for symptoms to arise in ex-smokers even decades after they have quit smoking.

"Even if everyone in the world stopped smoking today, we would be dealing with the effects of this for 40 years," says Curtis.

Few treatments are very effective. Corticosteroids are of limited use in reducing inflammation.

People with COPD experience higher levels of depression and anxiety that those with other chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes, studies have shown.

Note: U-M has a number of COPD clinical trials now enrolling patients. For more information, see https://www.umms.med.umich.edu/engage/ or email copdresearch@umich.edu

Additional authors: Fernando Martinez, M.D., M.S.; MeiLan K. Han, Theresa M. Ames, Stephen W. Chensue, Jill C. Todt, Douglas A. Arenberg, Catherine A. Meldrum, Christi Getty, Lisa McCloskey

Funding: U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center

Patents/conflict disclosures: M.K.H. received up to $1,000 from Novartis in consultancy fees, $1,001–$5,000 for serving on an advisory board for CSL Behring, $5,001–$10,000 in lecture fees from GlaxoSmithKline, and up to$1,000 in royalties from UpToDate. J.L.C. received $10,001–$50,001 in capitation for a clinical trial from Boehringer Ingelheim.

Citation: American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, December 15, 2009, volume 180, issue 12, page 1179

Anne Rueter | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

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: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>