Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Superantigens could be behind several illnesses

29.11.2010
Superantigens, the toxins produced by staphylococcus bacteria, are more complex than previously believed, reveals a team of researchers from the University of Gothenburg in an article published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications. Their discovery shows that the body’s immune system can cause more illnesses than realised.

“Superantigens have a real talent for disrupting the body’s immune system,” says Karin Lindkvist from the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Cell- and Molecular Biology, one of the authors of the article. “If you’re infected with bacteria that secrete superantigens, your immune system will respond so strongly that it’ll make you ill. Our study shows that superantigens activate the immune system in more ways than previously thought.”

We are all exposed daily to various types of foreign organism that can harm us. The human body has therefore developed cells whose role it is to “kill” and remove all foreign invaders that find their way in – the immune system.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become increasingly common with the more widespread use of different types of antibiotics. Yellow staphylococci (Staphylococcus aureus) are one of the most common bacteria in the world around us, with most children and adults carrying them at some point. One strain, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), has developed resistance to penicillin and other penicillin-like antibiotics that are normally used to treat infections caused by staphylococci. Staphylococci can cause a variety of conditions such as long-term wound infections and abscesses, and can also lead to food poisoning.

The toxins produced by staphylococci are also known as superantigens. A normal viral infection will trigger the activation of around 0.0001% of the body’s natural killer cells (T cells), which is enough to destroy the virus. However, contracting bacteria that secrete superantigens leads to the activation of 5-20% of the body’s T cells. Such a strong immune response will often result in illness, which generally involves fever and extreme nausea. Superantigens are also well-known for causing toxic symptoms, as in toxic shock syndrome. There is also some speculation as to whether superantigens can cause autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

“By investigating how superantigens activate the immune system via its T cells, we’ve been able to show that they bind to more than one part of the T cell receptor,” says Lindkvist. “This is an important discovery for our understanding of superantigens’ biological function, and for the future development of a vaccine against superantigens. We haven’t yet looked at whether other superantigens can activate T cells in the same complex way, but it’s reasonable to assume that they can.”

In addition to Karin Lindkvist, the research team behind the discovery comprises Maria Saline, Karin Rödström, Gerhard Fischer, Vladislav Orekhov and Göran Karlsson, all from the University of Gothenburg.

The study The structure of superantigen complexed with TCR and MHC reveals novel insights into superantigenic T cell activation has been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Fur further information, please contact:
Karin Lindkvist, Department of Cell- and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg
Tel.: +46 (0)31 786 39 12
E-mail: karin.lindkvist@gu.se

Helena Aaberg | idw
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms1117
http://www.gu.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Show me your leaves - Health check for urban trees
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht Liver Cancer: Lipid Synthesis Promotes Tumor Formation
12.12.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>