Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Infection defense: call for support by the killer cells

10.02.2017

A few days after a viral infection, countless killer cells swarm out to track down and kill infected body cells. In this way, they are highly effective at preventing pathogens from being able to spread further. An international research team has now explained an important mechanism behind building this army. The work under the aegis of the University of Bonn is published in the journal Immunity.

Killer cells – called cytotoxic T cells in the technical jargon – are somewhat like a well-trained police dog: as long as they don’t know that an infection is currently spreading somewhere in the body, they behave peacefully. They only become active and multiply when forensics rubs a “piece of property” of the pathogen under their nose. Only then do they head out to destroy the intruder.


Once killer cells (red) get wind of an infection, they convene a kind of team of various immunocytes (green or yellow).

© AG Kastenmüller/Universität Bonn

The role of forensics is assumed by the dendritic cells. They patrol around the clock and keep a lookout for molecules that should not actually be inside the body. When they make a find, they present the foreign molecule on their surface. Then they wait for a killer cell, to which they can show their find.

However, there are a great many different killer cells in the body. Each of them specializes in a certain foreign substance and can only be activated by a specific one. It thus usually takes a little time until the right bloodhound comes across the dendritic cell. But then things happen quickly: the killer cell begins to divide rapidly. Within a couple of days, an army of special forces is thus created, which can advance towards the pathogen.

Cooperation at a cellular level

“We have investigated what has to happen so that the killer cells multiply as effectively as possible,” explains Prof. Wolfgang Kastenmüller. The scientists at the Institute of Experimental Immunology at the University of Bonn led a study involving researchers from Japan, the USA, Italy and Germany. “Until now, it was thought that contact with the dendritic cell was sufficient here. However, we were able to show that the killer cell first forms a kind of team by ordering up other cell types in a targeted way.

Immediately after instruction by a dendritic cell, the killer cell thus triggers a kind of chemical help signal. Images from a special microscope show for the first time how specialized cells of the body’s defenses then head towards it. Upon arrival, these helpers set various immune processes in motion. Only in this way is the killer cell fully activated.

This now begins to divide significantly. What’s more, the arising army differentiates itself: some cells become particularly strong, but short-lived, killers. Others, meanwhile, become a kind of memory cell, which can be activated quickly in the event of another infection.

“The killer cell thus first creates a very specific microenvironment,” emphasizes Kastenmüller. “This is essential for a coordinated and strong immune defense mechanism.” The scientists hope that their fundamental work will open up new possibilities over the long term for further improving vaccinations against viruses or tumors.

Publication: A. Brewitz et al.: CD8+ T cells orchestrate pDC – XCR1+ dendritic cell spatial and functional cooperativity to optimize priming; Immunity; DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2017.01.003

Contact:

Prof. Wolfgang Kastenmüller
Institute of Experimental Immunology
University of Bonn
Tel. +49 (0)228/28711040
E-mail: wkastenm@uni-bonn.de

Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Routing gene therapy directly into the brain
07.12.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht New Hope for Cancer Therapies: Targeted Monitoring may help Improve Tumor Treatment
01.12.2017 | Berliner Institut für Gesundheitsforschung / Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)

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: 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 >>>