Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MSU researchers make new discoveries on what does and doesn't affect immune system

06.02.2008
Scientists know that a number of factors can affect the body's immune system: poor diet, certain steroids, chronic stress. Now researchers at Michigan State University have discovered that an appetite-controlling hormone also affects the immune system, while natural versions of certain steroids do not.

Both studies are reported in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"These two studies, while not directly related, show that the neuroendocrine system plays a big role in both the immune system and obesity," said Pamela Fraker, MSU professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and lead scientist for both projects. "MSU is one of the few places studying the relationship between metabolism, the immune system and the neuroendocrine system."

A new role for leptin

One MSU research team discovered that leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, supports white blood cell production in the body, enhancing immune function. This is the first time leptin's effect on the immune system has been demonstrated.

Scientists have long known that leptin helps control how much a person eats as well as how quickly the body burns energy.

"Many investigators have been trying to unlock the key to obesity for years," said Fraker. "The more fat a person has, the more leptin there is in the bloodstream. In obese people, it seems that the body becomes leptin-resistant -- the signals get jammed. So giving obese people leptin doesn't help them lose weight."

The MSU scientists were examining ob/ob mice (genetically programmed to have non-functional leptin) and db/db mice (genetically programmed to have non-functional leptin receptors), giving them supplemental leptin to study its effects. While causing the mice to eat less, the big surprise was leptin's effect on the immune system. The mice that were given leptin had double the number of B cells, a type of white blood cell produced in bone marrow that fights infection by making antibodies.

"This is a brand new role for leptin," said Fraker. "It appears that most obese people may be somewhat immunosuppressed. This finding shows us that the body's resistance to leptin plays a role in that, too."

To further study leptin's effect on the immune system, Fraker and her colleagues are planning a study on morbidly obese people who will be having gastric bypass surgery. While the outcome of the surgery is highly successful for most people, mortality rates can range from 2 to 10 percent, which is significant.

"Infection from poor wound healing, which is the result of reduced immune function, is one reason people die from the surgery," Fraker said. "We're going to measure people's immune function before and after surgery to see how much it improves, as well as how fast it improves."

Other members of this research team are MSU scientists Louis King, research assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and Kate Claycombe, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition.

Naturally-produced steroids don't inhibit immune system

While corticosteroids, such as prednisone, reduce inflammation, they also inhibit the body's immune system -- a person taking prescription steroids is more susceptible to infection. Another MSU research team found that corticosteroids produced naturally in the body don't have this same immunosuppressive effect.

The human body secretes corticosteroids when it's under stress, both psychological and physical, and these steroids are responsible for the "fight-or-flight response" in humans and other animals. Cortisol (also called hydrocortisone) is the most abundant corticosteroid in the body. These steroids' anti-inflammatory effects are well-known and pharmaceutical companies have been making versions of them for about 20 years. But people taking steroids are warned that cuts and bruises may be slow to heal because of steroids' effects on the immune system.

Fraker and her team's discovery that the naturally-produced versions of the steroids don't affect the immune system like the pharmacological versions is the first time this has been observed.

"With the pharmacological versions of steroids, you lose some immune function," Fraker explained. "With the natural versions, you retain neutrophil [a type of white blood cell] function. It may be worthwhile for pharmaceutical companies to investigate synthesizing natural versions of the steroids."

Pam Fraker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young
22.11.2017 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Penn study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos
21.11.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>