Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Important breakthrough in research on the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of asthma

19.08.2010
Scientists in Mainz publish new discoveries in asthma research

Scientists at the University Medical Center Mainz have taken a further step towards improving our understanding of how asthma develops. These new findings show that the gene-regulating molecule "IRF4" plays a key role in the development of T helper 9 cells , which can play a major part in the development of this chronic, inflammatory illness of the respiratory tract.

The findings were proven for the first time in research carried out by the work group led by Dr. Tobias Bopp and Professor Dr. Edgar Schmitt from the Institute for Immunology, which was recently published in the internationally renowned journal "Immunity".

Over the past 100 years, asthma has developed from a relatively rare lung disease into an epidemic. Around 300 million people suffer from asthma worldwide. Between five and ten percent of the German population suffer from asthma. And twice as many men suffer from the illness than women. We know that allergic immune reactions can contribute significantly to the development of asthma. Hyperreactive Th cells, which form part of the body's own immune system, play a major role in the manifestation of this illness.

Different T cells carry out various tasks in the body's immune defense: Cells with a helper function known as T helper (Th) cells produce various cytokines that enable the different immune defense cells to communicate with each other, which in turn helps them launch a coordinated attack on pathogens or even tumour cells. However, if these cells react disproportionately to harmless substances, they can also cause disease. T helper cells can be divided into several sub-groups, including Th9 cells. These Th9 cells were characterized in two phases: They were described for the first time in 1994 as interleukin (IL)-9-producing T helper cells by Professor Schmitt, and finally became known as Th9 cells in 2008.

"Until now, only evidence was provided for the existence of Th9 cells and the crucial importance of IL-9 in the pathogenesis of asthma. However, as other cells beside T cells can produce IL-9 the major source of this cytokine was far from being definitive. To enable targeted therapeutic intervention, however, it was necessary to uncover the basic molecular mechanism underlying the development and function of IL-9-producing Th9 cells. Our analyses finally showed that IRF4 – a molecule that plays a key role in the regulation of genes – is essential for the development and function of Th9 cells," explain Dr. Tobias Bopp and Professor Dr. Edgar Schmitt from the Institute for Immunology.

The functional studies were carried out mainly on mice. The starting point was the observation that T cells in mice missing an intact IRF4 molecule do not develop into Th9 cells and are therefore unable to produce significant quantities of IL-9. As IL-9 is responsible for a variety of different asthma symptoms, the scientists led by Dr. Tobias Bopp and Professor Dr. Edgar Schmitt investigated to what extent IRF4 and consequently Th9 cells contribute to development and manifestation of asthma. These experiments showed that a failure in Th9 development prevents IRF4-deficient mice from asthma. Transfer of Th9 cells led to reappearance of asthma symptoms in such mice confirming the importance of this Th-subpopulation for the induction of asthma.

Professor Dr. Hansjörg Schild, Director of the Institute for Immunology, stresses how important basic research is for the development of new therapeutic strategies: "Asthma has been on the increase for decades in industrial countries. The discovery of Dr. Tobias Bopp and Professor Dr. Edgar Schmitt could provide the first step to improve existing therapeutic treatments but we still have a long and arduous journey ahead." The next step of the research process is to screen substances, among them naturally occurring molecules/agents, that suppress the production of IL-9 to develop innovative approaches for the treatment of asthma.

This view is also shared by Scientific Director of the University Medical Center Mainz, Professor Dr. Dr. Reinhard Urban: "Immunological illnesses are playing an ever greater role in our society. It is therefore only logical that the researchers in the University Medical Center should focus on the basic cellular mechanisms and use their results to help improve treatment for patients."

Original publication:
Valérie Staudt et al., “Interferon-Regulatory Factor 4 Is Essential for the Developmental Program of T Helper 9 Cells”, Immunity (2010), doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2010.07.014
Publication in Immunity: online on July 29, 2010, in print on August 29, 2010
(download: http://www.cell.com/immunity/newarticles).
Contact
Dr. Tobias Bopp
Institute for Immunology
Phone +49 (0)6131 17-6175, Fax +49 (0)6131 17-6260
E-Mail: boppt@uni-mainz.de, Homepage: http://www.immunologie-mainz.de
Press contact
Tanja Rolletter, Press officer,
Phone +49 (0) 6131 17-7424, Fax +49 (0)6131 17-3496, E-Mail: pr@unimedizin-mainz.de

Caroline Bahnemann | idw
Further information:
http://www.cell.com/immunity/newarticles
http://www.immunologie-mainz.de

Further reports about: IL-9 IRF4 Immunology T cells T helper cells Th9 cellular mechanism immune defense immunity

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism
19.01.2018 | Weill Cornell Medicine

nachricht Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system
17.01.2018 | Duke University Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | 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

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>