Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Potential cause of arthritis discovered


Carbohydrate activates body’s defenses, causing inflammation

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) have shown that certain types of naturally occurring carbohydrates in the body may cause rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating, painful disease affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Although there have been promising advances in treating the symptoms of arthritis, the exact causes of arthritic inflammation, swelling, and destruction of the joints has remained elusive. Now, researchers at BWH have for the first time associated carbohydrates present naturally in the body with this disease.

Dr. Julia Ying Wang, the lead BWH researcher in the study, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at HMS, has extensively examined the role of carbohydrates in diseases and infections. She will present her recent findings on arthritis at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting, to be held from August 18th through August 22nd, at the Hynes Convention Center and surrounding hotels.

Wang began wondering whether a particular class of carbohydrates, known as glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), triggered an immune response in the body. GAGs are naturally present as a major component of joint cartilage, joint fluid, connective tissue, and skin. In collaboration with Michael H. Roehrl, M.D., from HMS, Wang studied the effects GAGs had on mice, who subsequently experienced arthritic symptoms, including swelling, inflammation, and joint damage.

"This study shows that rheumatoid arthritis may result from the body’s mishandling of its own carbohydrates that, under normal circumstances, would not be interpreted as a threat," said Wang. "We found that inflammatory cells that accumulate in arthritic joints attach themselves directly to the glycosaminoglycans. This accumulation of cells leads to painful inflammation and swelling in the affected tissue."

In addition to their work with mice, Wang and Roehrl also examined human tissue taken from arthritis patients. They discovered the same type of glycosaminoglycan-binding cells in the human tissue. This is the first direct demonstration of such cells in humans and animals.

"It leads us to believe that rheumatoid arthritis may be an unusual immune response," added Wang.

Given her findings, Wang said subsequent research would most likely focus on the development of drugs aimed at stopping the growth, expansion, or adhesion of immune cells that react to glycosaminoglycans. Wang will continue to investigate carbohydrates and how they affect the body’s immune system.

"This research is extremely promising," said John Mekalanos, Professor and Chairman of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at HMS. "This study also suggests plausible models for how bacterial infection might trigger arthritis and how we might go about reversing this debilitating conditions with new therapies." Mekalanos added, "We are clearly a step closer to understanding the causes of a disease that has left the medical community with unanswered questions and many patients with discomfort and pain."

Wang will speak on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 1:50 p.m. in the Sheraton Boston, Republic B. For more information about the American Chemical Society meeting, contact Charmayne Marsh at 617-351-6879 or 202-872-4445.

BWH is a 716-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare System, an integrated health care delivery network. Internationally recognized as a leading academic health care institution, BWH is committed to excellence in patient care, medical research, and the training and education of health care professionals. The hospital’s preeminence in all aspects of clinical care is coupled with its strength in medical research. A leading recipient of research grants from the National Institutes of Health, BWH conducts internationally acclaimed clinical, basic and epidemiological studies.

This release is being issued simultaneously by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Chemical Society.

Charmayne Marsh, Jeff Ventura | EurekAlert!
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

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>