Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Monocytes have many faces


When the immune system mobilizes its troops, antigen-presenting cells play an important role. They can emerge from white blood cells (monocytes) that circulate in the blood. An international research team under the leadership of the University of Bonn has now taken a closer look at these important helpers. The research revealed that the monocyte-derived cells are not identical descendants, but rather a very diverse mixture. This finding is important for the further development of tailor-made immunotherapies for combating tumor cells. The scientists now present their findings in the renowned journal "Immunity".

For more than two decades, monocyte-derived dendritic cells (moDCs) have been obtained from patients' blood for immunotherapy to treat various cancers, for example melanoma, lung or colon cancer. It was assumed that these therapeutically used cells are identical to dendritic cells. Dendritic cells have become known as the most potent antigen-presenting cells. They recognize foreign structures of invaders, pick them up and present them to other immune cells to strengthen the targeted defense.

In the lab (from left): Dr. Branko Cirovic, Jil Sander, Prof. Dr. Joachim Schultze and Dr. Andreas Schlitzer at the LIMES-Institute of University of Bonn.

© Photo: Barbara Frommann/Uni Bonn

Immunotherapy is effective only for a small proportion of patients

“Only a small proportion of patients respond to therapy with moDCs, whilst very little effect is seen in the vast majority of patients”, says Dr. Andreas Schlitzer, Emmy-Noether-Group Leader at the Life and Medical Sciences (LIMES) Institute of the University of Bonn.

Using the latest high-tech methods, Prof. Dr. Joachim Schultze and Dr. Schlitzer together with their colleagues from the LIMES Institute, the Institute of Innate Immunity of University Hospital Bonn, the cluster of excellence ImmunoSensation at University of Bonn, from Stanford University (USA) and the Singapore Immunology Network (Singapore) researched the properties of these special cells.

Using human blood, the scientists extracted monocytes which they transformed into a large variety of antigen-presenting cells and analyzed using state-of-the-art methods. What is the activity of different genes of different moDCs? How is their metabolism? Which messengers and stimulants do they respond to? It became clear that there is a huge variety of moDCs.

“Using state-of-the-art computer-assisted models, we were able to show that moDCs differ from dendritic cells and present a mixture of cells with very diverse properties and functions”, explains lead author Jil Sander from the LIMES Institute. “MoDCs have an extraordinarily large plasticity, enabling them to tailor their response to pathogens, tumors or endogenous danger signals. This ability is fine-tuned by specific gene regulation”, adds second lead author Dr. Susanne V. Schmidt from the Institute of Innate Immunity of University Hospital Bonn. They most closely resemble immune cells that occur in inflammation.

The wide variety of different moDCs could explain why moDCs activate the immune system against the tumor cells only in some patients. “Our results are the basis for tailoring moDCs for the patients, thereby significantly improving cancer immunotherapy”, says Prof. Schultze from the LIMES Institute.

Time aspect is crucial for cell differentiation

Additionally, the research team achieved important results for basic research. “The time aspect had been largely ignored so far in the differentiation of monocytes”, says Dr. Schlitzer. Depending on how long the substance, for example interleukin 4, acted on the cells, the moDCs could be very different. The researchers agree that the potential of monocyte-derived dendritic cells is underestimated.

Publication: Cellular differentiation of human monocytes is regulated by time-dependent IL4 signalling and NCOR2, Immunity, DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2017.11.024

Media contact:

Dr. Andreas Schlitzer
University of Bonn
Tel. +49(0)228/7362847

Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Development and Fast Analysis of 3D Printed HF Components

19.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one

19.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus

19.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>