The published research has helped to advance medical understanding of how the body defends against disease and heals itself.
The study also reveals that the same protein, Properdin –discovered only half a century ago- can also harm internal organs under certain circumstances.
Lack of the protein in the human body has previously been linked to susceptibility to meningitis.
But the new findings by Dr Cordula Stover, of the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Leicester assign hitherto unappreciated importance to this protein of the immune defence.
Her work, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), is published in the form of two papers in the Journal of Immunology. It is being published in print on May 15.
Dr Stover, a Lecturer in Immunology, said: “I have a broad interest in immune mechanisms of health and disease, though recently, I have focused on a particular component of the first line immune defence, a protein called Properdin.
“Properdin deficiency in families, though rare, predisposes people to develop meningococcal meningitis, usually with poor outcome of the infection.
“I hypothesised that the importance of Properdin extends beyond this particular infectious disease, and that indeed it is an important player in health generally, and that its importance becomes apparent in conditions involving both acute and chronic states of inflammation.
“I was most delighted to obtain funding from the MRC to investigate this.”
Now two of Dr Stover’s papers, published in the Journal of Immunology, demonstrate that Properdin plays a significant role in the survival of conditions relating to surgical perforation of the gut and activation of the immune system by wall components of bacteria.
In conditions relating to multi-organ dysfunction, a complication which can occur in response to severe sepsis, Properdin however aggravates organ damage.
Dr Stover added: “So far, the system Properdin is a part of - the so-called complement system - is classified as a first line, innate, acutely effective immune activation mechanism.
“My work shows that the activity of Properdin extends beyond the acute phase and, importantly, that Properdin is stepping onto the stage as an important player in different inflammatory conditions.
“As the worldwide burden of chronic inflammatory disease increases, it is of practical relevance to understand the contribution of this immune protein.”
· The history of Properdin extends about 50 years with the first significant biochemical characterisations made in the USA, however, subsequently, the UK has contributed tremendously with the characterisation of the Properdin gene and structural modelling of the Properdin protein.
Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin
24.01.2017 | Carlos III University of Madrid
Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis
23.01.2017 | Massachusetts General Hospital
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine