Dutch research has demonstrated that lipids from the parasite schistosoma can inhibit human immune responses. This property makes the lipids interesting for a possible new treatment of diseases such as asthma and diabetes where the immune system responds inappropriately.
During her doctoral research, Desiree van der Kleij discovered that lipids from the parasite schistosoma steer the development of the immune system in a certain direction. Cells from the innate immune system, so-called dendritic cells, respond to these lipids. During this response these cells can initiate the development of so-called regulatory T-cells. These regulatory T-cells subsequently suppress the activity of other cells in the immune system.
The researcher discovered that one of the lipids with this steering effect on dendritic cells contains a fatty acid that does not occur in humans. She also demonstrated that this specific lipid of the parasite activates a specific receptor on dendritic cells. Once the receptor had been blocked, it was found that regulatory T-cells no longer developed after dendritic cells had been stimulated with the parasite lipid.
Lydie van der Meer | NWO
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