Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Immune cells in the liver take a ride

05.04.2005


Scientists at New York University School of Medicine viewing the actual journey of immune cells in the liver have found that these cells travel in the liver’s blood vessels with surprising speed and agility.



It is the first time that the movement of live immune cells called natural killer T (NKT) cells has been seen in the liver, according to a study published in the April 5, 2005, issue of the Public Library of Science, an open-access, online journal.

NKT cells are the guardians of the liver. They patrol the liver for foreign molecules on bacteria and viruses and once they find the interlopers, they alert the immune system to their presence. They are also thought to play a role in disposing of damaged cells, and in scouting for tumors.


Led by Dan R. Littman, M.D., PhD., professor of pathology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and Michael L. Dustin, Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, the study analyzed over a period of hours the movement of NKT cells and their response to foreign protein, or antigen, in mice.

The study revealed a number of surprises. First, the NKT cells did their work almost entirely within the blood vessels of the liver. Previously, conventional theory held that these cells were forced from the blood into the tissues, where they did their specialized work. "This is the first example of a system in which a cell’s surveillance for antigen is intravascular rather than within a tissue," says Dr. Littman.

Second, the NKT cells appeared to have the agility of a pro athlete. The cells moved and changed directions quickly, sometimes traveling against the direction of flowing blood, no mean feat.

The researchers were able to trace the movement of the cells, by replacing a gene called CXCR6 with a gene for green fluorescent protein, which glows and makes the cells visible under a microscope. The researchers used a technique called intravital fluorescence microscope imaging to observe the behavior of the glowing cells in live mice.

The study showed that the cells were undisturbed by the rapid blood flow, latching on to the vessels, then moving in random patterns in search of infected cells. "Despite the force of the directional blood flow, the cells were able to hold their own, moving and changing direction, sometimes passing each other within a single blood vessel," explains Dr. Dustin.

In another part of the study, the researchers injected a foreign molecule. Here again, the cells behaved like athletes. They abruptly stopped and remained still, signaling that they had found the antigen and were ready to undertake their next task of alerting the immune system.

And there was yet another surprise. Drs. Littman and Dustin had expected that replacing the CXCR6 gene would directly affect the movement of the NKT cells. The CXCR6 gene encodes a receptor molecule on the surface of cells that is involved in cell movement and attraction. Replacement of the gene, which renders the cells receptor-deficient, should inhibit their ability to cling to the vessels, thereby directly inhibiting their movement.

But the researchers found that the replacement of the gene did not affect the movement of NTK cells, they hung on and patrolled for invaders just as well as cells with the gene. However, their survival rate was reduced, leading the scientists to surmise that the gene was somehow involved directly in a survival mechanism.

Dr. Littman explains the experiments so far have been artificial because the antigen was injected. The next step is to determine the kinds of pathological situations in which the cells become activated.

Dr. Dustin says his laboratory now is investigating a mouse model for liver fibrosis, triggered by bile duct obstruction, to see how cells with CXCR6 move under various conditions. "There is also significant interest in studying the way in which NKT cells respond to antigen so that they might be used in tumor vaccines," he says.

Pamela McDonnell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyumc.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>