Scientists from the Department of Neuroimmunology and the Institute for Multiple Sclerosis Research (IMSF), the latter founded by the Hertie Foundation, have developed a technology that has allowed them to track several previously unexplained phenomena in multiple sclerosis (MS). A research team headed by Prof. Alexander Flügel could employ fluorescent proteins to make visible the individual steps in the process that sparks off a destructive autoimmune disease in the brain.
A T lymphocyte is activated after contact with a phagocytic cell. Each picture shows a different time-point in a video recording of the interaction between the two cells.
Source: umg/imsf göttingen
An autoreactive T lymphocyte, here in contact with a microglia cell, is activated deep within inflamed nervous tissue.
Source: umg/imsf göttingen
Autoimmune diseases are caused by a specific type of immune cell, namely T lymphocytes, which attack the body's own tissue. In multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, brain-reactive T lymphocytes invade the nervous tissue and cause inflammatory reactions there which can lead to serious and sometimes permanent damage, for example motor deficits and sensibility dysfunctions.
Known facts: T lymphocytes cannot recognize brain tissue by themselves. To do their destructive work T lymphocytes need help. Apparently central nervous systems cells give away important information about the identity of brain tissue.
The rudimentary order of events behind this process was also known: unsuspecting helper cells offer the "blind” T lymphocytes fragments of the relevant brain tissue proteins on specialized carrier proteins, so-called MHC molecules. The T lymphocytes can sense these fragments with special feelers and then can recognize brain tissue. Ultimately it is this recognition of brain tissue that is the deciding factor for the development of an autoimmune disease, because it activates immune cells which then set an alarm program into motion that leads to the release of nerve-damaging neurotransmitters and antigens.
Unclear up until now was: Exactly which nervous system cells render this fatal aid? Where exactly in brain tissue does the activation takes place? In which phase of brain tissue inflammation is the recognition process significance to the disease manifestation?
Stefan Weller | Uni Göttingen
Further reports about: > IMSF > MHC > Medical Wellness > Multiple Sklerose > Neuroimmunology > T lymphocyte > autoimmune disease > brain cell > brain tissue > central nervous system > fluorescent signals > immune cell > inflammatory reaction > infrared-fluorescent proteins > multiple sclerosis > nervous system > nervous tissue > protein fragment > scavenger cells
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