A team of cell biologists, toxicologists and molecular bioscientists at UC Davis has published a study connecting thimerosal with disruptions in antigen-presenting cells known as dendritic cells obtained from mice. The study provides the first evidence that dendritic cells show unprecedented sensitivity to thimerosal, resulting in fundamental changes in the immune systems ability to respond to external factors. The study was published online today and will be available in the July print edition of Environmental Health Perspectives, the peer-reviewed scientific publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
"This is the first time that thimerosal has been shown to selectively alter the normal functions of dendritic cells," said Isaac Pessah, a toxicologist with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, director of the Childrens Center for Environmental Health and Disease Prevention and senior author of the study. "Dendritic cells play pivotal roles in overcoming viral and bacterial invaders by coordinating the immune systems overall combat response." One dendritic cell can activate as many as 300 T-cells – white blood cells that help find and kill external agents that attack the immune system – making them the most effective immune system activators.
The study shows how intricate connections between calcium channels in dendritic cells change when exposed to thimerosal.
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