Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Previously unknown immune cell may help those with Crohn's and colitis

The tonsils and lymphoid tissues in the intestinal tract that help protect the body from external pathogens are the home base of a rare immune cell newly identified by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The researchers indicate that the immune cells could have a therapeutic role in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Their report will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Nature and is currently available through advanced online publication.

"These cells have an anti-inflammatory effect," says the article's lead author Marina Cella, M.D., research associate professor of pathology and immunology. "In the gut, we have beneficial bacteria, and it's important that the body does not recognize them as something detrimental and start an inflammatory reaction, which could ultimately promote tissue damage and inflammatory or autoimmune diseases such as IBD. The cells we've discovered are important for keeping such harmful inflammatory processes in check."

The cells are a type of natural killer (NK) cells, which are white blood cells classically known to eliminate tumor cells and cells infected by viruses. Because of their killer tendencies, NK cells are carefully controlled and don't act until they receive the right signal.

Some of the signals that activate the newly discovered cells are the same signals that turn on a different immune cell with strong inflammatory properties that can promote cell death and tissue damage if chronically active. But the anti-inflammatory cells, termed NK-22 cells, that the Washington University researchers discovered have the opposite effect — they promote cell proliferation and wound healing.

"That finding suggests that these cells play a role in maintaining a balance in the immune system between inflammatory processes and anti-inflammatory processes," says coauthor Jason Mills, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and immunology and of developmental biology. "They make sure that factors that turn up inflammation can be counteracted by the coordinated activation of anti-inflammatory effects."

The NK-22 cells are part of the innate immune system, which reacts quickly to invading pathogens. The researchers found that in response to immune signals warning of foreign invaders, the cells produce copious quantities of a compound called IL-22, which is why the researchers chose to name them NK-22 cells.

"NK-22 cells are already present in the mucosal tissue of the gastrointestinal tract, and as soon as they see a pathogen, they react," Cella says. "That is a great advantage to the body because it produces a protective response in the very first hours of pathogenic attack."

Now that immunologists know NK-22 cells exist and what immune factors influence them, they may be able to capitalize on them to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases, the researchers say.

"Diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease result from a defect in the intestine's protective barrier," says senior author Marco Colonna, M.D., professor of pathology and immunology. "If we can develop methods to culture NK-22 cells, we may be able to use them to promote healing and protect the gastrointestinal tract."

Gwen Ericson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

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...

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

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>