Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to examine individual cells and their activity directly in the tissue.
Using a calcium sensor shows that the calcium concentration in T cells (green) changes when it interacts with dendritic cells (red) [top]. The activation of the T cell (red) can be illustrated by the migration of the NFAT signal protein (green) from the cell plasma to the cell nucleus [bottom].
© MPI of Neurobiology
The development of new microscopes and fluorescent dyes in recent years has brought this scientific dream tantalisingly close. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried have now presented not one, but two studies introducing new indicator molecules which can visualise the activation of T cells. Their findings provide new insight into the role of these cells in the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS). The new indicators are set to be an important tool in the study of other immune reactions as well.Inflammation is the body’s defence response to a potentially harmful stimulus. The purpose of an inflammation is to fight and remove the stimulus – whether it be disease-causing pathogens or tissue. As an inflammation progresses, significant steps that occur thus include the recruitment of immune cells, the interactions of these cells in the affected tissue and the resulting activation pattern of the immune cells. The more scientists understand about these steps, the better they can develop more effective drugs and treatments to support them. This is particularly true for diseases like multiple sclerosis. In this autoimmune disorder cells from the body’s immune system penetrate into the central nervous system where they cause massive damage in the course of an inflammation.
ContactDr. Stefanie Merker
Nature Medicine, May 12, 2013
Dr. Stefanie Merker | Max-Planck-Institute
Further reports about: > Max Planck Institute > Medicine > Nature Medicine > Neurobiology > T cell activation > T cells > autoimmune disease > bodily function > calcium level > cell activation > cellular process > central nervous system > fluorescent dyes > immune cell > immune system > individual cells > multiple sclerosis > nerve cell > nervous system
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