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 Vanishing capillaries
23.03.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>