Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

In surprise finding, blood clots absorb bacterial toxin

10.12.2013
Blood clots play an unexpected role in protecting the body from the deadly effects of bacteria by absorbing bacterial toxins, researchers at the University of California, Davis, have found. The research was published Dec. 2 in the journal PLoS ONE.

"It's a significant addition to the short list of defenses that animals use to protect themselves against toxin-induced sepsis," said Peter Armstrong, professor of molecular and cellular biology at UC Davis and senior author on the paper.

Even with modern antibiotics, septic shock from bacterial infections afflicts about 300,000 people a year in the U.S., with a mortality rate of 30 to 50 percent. Septic shock is caused by Gram-negative bacteria, which release a toxin called lipopolysaccharide or endotoxin. In small amounts, lipopolysaccharide triggers inflammation. When infections with these bacteria get out of hand, lipopolysaccharide courses through the bloodstream, causing catastrophic damage to organs and tissues.

These toxins cause disease in a variety of animal species — lipopolysaccharide is also toxic to both horseshoe crabs and lobsters, separated from humans by hundreds of millions of years of evolution. In humans and other mammals, blood clots quickly form from a mix of specialized blood cells and protein fibers. Arthropods like horseshoe crabs and lobsters can also form clots in response to injury, with a different mix of cells and proteins.

Clots protect and help to seal wounds, prevent blood or body fluids from leaking out and form a physical barrier that entangles and blocks bacteria from entering the body. The new study shows that they also actively soak up lipopolysaccharide, reducing its release from the wound site into the body, where it could cause disease or even death.

Armstrong's laboratory had previously developed fluorescent labels to show that a lipopolysaccharide-like molecule is present in chloroplasts, structures inside cells of green plants that carry out photosynthesis and are thought to be descended from bacteria. As he also studies the role of blood clots in resisting infections, Armstrong decided to test the same techniques on blood clots that had been exposed to bacteria or to bacterial lipopolysaccharide. The fluorescent probes lit up the clots, showing that the clot fibers bound lipopolysaccharide to their surfaces.

"I was ecstatic," Armstrong said. "It was one of those moments that makes the rest of the slogging worthwhile."

Armstrong and colleagues Margaret Armstrong at UC Davis and Frederick Rickles at George Washington University looked at clots of blood, or its equivalent, from humans, mice, lobsters and horseshoe crabs. In all four species, they found that fluorescently tagged lipopolysaccharide was bound to the fibers of the blood clot. The toxin was too tightly attached to be readily removed by chemical treatments that remove weakly bound macromolecules from proteins.

During a sabbatical leave in the laboratory of Dr. Bruce Furie at Beth Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard University, Armstrong was also able to film clots in blood vessels of live mice and showed that these in vivo clots took up lipopolysaccharide in real time. These in vivo experiments, he said, confirm the bench-top observations and offer new insights into the pathology of sepsis.

One of the deadly consequences of septic shock is disseminated intravascular coagulation, when blood clots form rapidly throughout the body. But the new results suggest that on a small and local scale, this might be part of a protective mechanism against sepsis — these intravascular clots can soak up quantities of lipopolysaccharide from the blood. They also show that rather than being a simple physical barrier, blood clots play an active and dynamic role in protecting the body from infections.

Parts of the research were carried out at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. The work was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has been one place where people are bettering humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the state capital, UC Davis has more than 33,000 students, over 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget of nearly $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Media contact(s):
Peter Armstrong, Molecular and Cellular Biology, (530) 752-1565, pbarmstrong@ucdavis.edu

Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533, ahfell@ucdavis.edu

Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nesting aids make agricultural fields attractive for bees
20.07.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht The Kitchen Sponge – Breeding Ground for Germs
20.07.2017 | Hochschule Furtwangen

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>