Using genetically altered mice, Yale researchers have generated a clearer picture of the origins of B cells and their involvement in autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
Published in the September 20 issue of Science, the study, led by Mark Shlomchik, M.D., associate professor of laboratory medicine at Yale School of Medicine, looked at B cells reactions to its own toxins, known as antigens. B lymphocyte cells normally produce antibodies to viruses and bacteria, which protect against infection. However, when these antibodies are directed toward the bodys own components they are called "autoantibodies," which can cause inflammation and autoimmune disease.
"B cells that react with self antigens (autoreactive B cells) are very important in the origins of these autoimmune diseases," said Shlomchik. "These B cells make autoantibodies, and also stimulate white blood cells called autoreactive T lymphocytes that destroy tissues, such as the kidney, joints and skin which are the major organs affected in Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis." In normal individuals these B cells are tightly controlled and prevented from making autoantibodies.
Karen N. Peart | EurekAlert!
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