In a preclinical research study, UC environmental health scientists have identified a link between cigarette smoke and activation of a specific cellular receptor (NKG2D) critical to immune system activation. They say the finding is key to understanding COPD disease progression and developing future interventional drug therapies.
“People have historically believed that if you smoke, you suppress the immune system. We’ve shown that you actually activate certain parts of the immune system and it could potentially work against you,” explains Michael Borchers, PhD, lead investigator of the study and UC assistant professor of environmental health.
Borchers and his team report their findings in the March 2009 issue of theJournal of Clinical Investigation. The study appears online ahead of print Feb. 9, 2009. It is the first study to report data defining a link between the immune system and COPD disease progression and severity.
COPD is a progressive pulmonary disease believed to be caused by long-term cigarette smoking. The irreversible and incurable condition is characterized by emphysema and severe inflammation of the lung tissue.
Previous research had suggested that immune cells (lymphocytes) contributed to chronic inflammation, a key indicator of COPD; however, it was unclear whether this caused extensive cellular damage.
For this study, Borchers’ team developed a transgenic mouse model to further examine how the immune system responds to chronic inflammation indicative of COPD. His team hypothesized that when tissue was damaged, the cells would send signals to the immune system indicating they are transformed—similar to cancer or virally infected cells—and must be destroyed.
Scientists examined molecular signaling pathways in lung tissue exposed to cigarette smoke and found a strong correlation between cellular stress signals, activation of the immune system and development of COPD-like disease.
This method was repeated and cross-referenced in tissue samples from a human cohort that included non-smokers, smokers with COPD and smokers who did not develop COPD. In patients who had never smoked, there was a complete absence of the NKG2D signal. Current and former smokers who developed the disease expressed signals that correlated with severe COPD disease.
By combining both sets of data, they determined that cigarette smoke set off a molecular chain of events resulting in activation of a specific receptor—NKG2D—in lung cells, causing the immune system to attack stressed (damaged) lung tissue.
“Our study is evidence that when the lungs are exposed to chronic damage from cigarette smoke, at some point that damage exceeds the body’s natural ability to repair tissue and can start to contribute to COPD instead of protecting against it,” Borchers says.
Borchers intends to expand this research using other genetically altered mouse models to explore the relationship between the NKG2D receptor and other immune pathways involved in of alterations in the immune system of COPD patients.
Funding for the multi-institutional study comes from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. UC thoracic surgeons Michael Reed, MD, and Sandra Starnes, MD, and investigators at the Institut Municipal d’Investigació Mèdica in Barcelona, Spain, provided tissue samples for the study.
Amanda Harper | EurekAlert!
Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital
Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences