Researchers at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute (VGTI) at Oregon Health & Science University have demonstrated how certain white blood cells literally eat virus-infected cells while fighting disease at the microscopic level. The research not only helps provide a clearer understanding of the body's immune system, it also offers hope of a new method for gauging vaccine effectiveness. The research is published in the current edition of the journal Nature Medicine.
CD8+ T-cells are specialized white blood cells that serve an important role in the body's immune system. The cells attack and destroy disease "invaders" such as viruses in the body. Previous studies indicated that T-cells may consume parts of cells with which they interact, but this new research shows this can happen in response to a systemic viral infection.
"If you use a fluorescent dye to stain infected cells, you can literally watch T-cells consume membranes and outer surfaces of diseased cells. As they destroy and cannibalize the fluorescently labeled cells, they become labeled with the fluorescent dye themselves," explained Mark Slifka, Ph.D., a researcher in the VGTI who led the research. Slifka is also a scientist in the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and holds a concurrent appointment in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine.
"While we don't fully understand why this happens, one possibility is that the T-cell consumes virus-infected cells to fuel itself in the continued fight against an ongoing infection. It's sort of like invaders that pillage their defeated foe's supplies and then continue the fight."
The way in which Slifka and his colleague, Carol Beadling, made this discovery was quite serendipitous. The researchers were studying the interactions between virus-specific T-cells and fluorescently labeled infected cells when they noticed that the T-cells also began to glow with the fluorescent dye. Further investigation revealed that the CD8+ T-cells, often referred to as "killer" T-cells, were literally ingesting parts of the virus-infected cells that they were attacking.
Slifka and Beadling's findings follow a discovery by David Parker, Ph.D., a professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine. Parker and his colleague, Scott Wetzel, noted a similar behavior in CD4+ T-cells, often called "helper" T-cells, which are less aggressive T-cells but also an important aspect of the immune system.
"Another interesting finding for our lab is that in some ways, T-cells can be picky eaters," explained Slifka. "Although they will destroy almost any infected cell, they prefer to eat certain types of cells but not others. For instance, we noted that CD8+ T-cells consumed other white blood cells such as infected B-cells, but they were not fond of eating infected fibroblasts, a type of cell found in connective tissue. They're sort of like a 5-year-old who loves to eat cookies, but refuses to eat their brussels sprouts."
The researchers believe that these findings may be useful as a method for determining a vaccine's effectiveness during the process of immunization. Measuring the levels at which CD8+ T-cells respond to and consume a candidate vaccine could likely determine whether that vaccine is effective in educating the body's immune system as to what diseases to look for.
Jim Newman | EurekAlert!
Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal
22.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology