Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Newly Discovered B Cells Suggest Why Women Suffer More Autoimmune Disease

Researchers at National Jewish Health have discovered a type of cell that may contribute to autoimmune disease. The findings also suggest why diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis strike women more frequently than men.

The cells, a subset of immune-system B cells, make autoantibodies, which bind to and attack the body’s own tissue. The researchers report in the August 4, 2011, issue of the journal Blood, that they found higher levels of these cells in elderly female mice, young and old mice prone to autoimmune disease, and humans with autoimmune diseases. National Jewish Health has applied for a patent for a method to treat autoimmune disease by depleting these cells.

“We believe these cells could be useful in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases, and may help us understand general mechanisms underlying autoimmunity,” said senior author Philippa Marrack, PhD, Professor of Immunology at National Jewish Health and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system begins attacking its own tissues rather than external pathogens. Several autoimmune diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, afflict women anywhere from two to 10 times as often as they do males. Although sex hormones are known to play a role in autoimmune disease, other factors are involved in these gender differences.

The research team came across the new cells when they were examining differential expression of X-chromosome genes in healthy male and female mice. They discovered a previously undescribed type of B cell, which expressed the cell-surface protein CD11c. The protein is an integrin, which helps cells attach to other cells or to an extracellular matrix. The researchers are not certain what role integrin might play in autoimmunity or if it is merely a marker for another mediator of autoimmunity.

These cells increase as healthy female mice age, but remain at constant low levels in healthy male mice. As a result, the researchers named the cells Age-associated B Cells or ABCs. The researchers also found higher levels of ABCs in young and old mice that are prone to autoimmune disease. They could detect the elevated ABC levels before any disease developed and even before autoantibodies appeared, suggesting a role for these cells in early detection of disease.

The researchers also found an almost identical type of cell in the blood of many human autoimmune patients. In women with rheumatoid arthritis the presence of these cells increased with age.

ABCs in mice produce antibodies against chromatin, the combination of proteins and DNA that make up chromosomes in the cell nucleus. When they depleted the ABCs in mice, autoantibody levels fell, suggesting a potential treatment for autoimmune diseases. National Jewish Health has applied for a patent on the method of depleting the cells to treat autoimmune disease.

The researchers also found that activation of these cells requires stimulation of TLR7, a cell-surface receptor involved in innate immune responses. The gene for TLR7 is located on the X chromosome. Women have two X chromosomes, men an X and a Y chromosome. Normally one copy of the X chromosome in women is silenced so that it does not produce excess protein. But the silencing is not always complete, and women commonly express elevated levels of some X-chromosome genes.

“Not only do these cells appear more frequently in females, their activation depends on a gene of which women have two copies and men only one,” said Anatoly V. Rubtsov, PhD, first author and postdoctoral fellow at National Jewish Health. “This could help us understand why women suffer many autoimmune diseases more often than men.”

William Allstetter | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>