In findings that could have implications for autoimmune disorders and drug-resistant bacterial infections, researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have identified a key protein involved in the appropriate shut-down of inflammation following an immune response to invading pathogens.
Published in the April 28, 2005 issue of the journal Nature, the study in mice and lab cultures of immune cells called macrophages showed that a protein called I-kappa-B kinase alpha (IKKa) is responsible for terminating an inflammatory response before it can damage cells and organs.
Senior author Michael Karin, Ph.D., UCSD professor of pharmacology, explained that IKKa is part of a sophisticated two-punch system that maintains a proper inflammatory response. While it is well known that IKKa’s sister protein, IKK beta (IKKb), initiates the inflammatory response, little was known about the mechanism for stopping the response before it injures tissue, such as the damage that occurs in chronic bacterial and parasitic infections like tuberculosis and leprosy, or in autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Sue Pondrom | EurekAlert!
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