The ability to easily make large numbers of these cells opens the door to improved treatment and a better understanding of autoimmune diseases such as type1 diabetes and arthritis, Medical College of Georgia researchers say.
T cells are components of the immune system designed to attack invaders such as bacteria and viruses; regulatory T cells are a small subset that prevents the cells from also attacking body tissue.
Research published in the August issue of Nature Methods shows that, given the option, phospholipase D, which typically mixes with water, prefers alcohol. It’s an apparently lethal choice for the signaling molecule that, in turn, also kills T cells that need phospholipase D to survive. Previously, it was unknown whether regulatory T cells required the molecule.
“What we have found is that if you block this enzyme, almost all T cells die after three days but the regulatory T cells can survive,” says Dr. Makio Iwashima, MCG immunologist and the study’s corresponding author. “After three days, we give them some food to grow and, in one week, you get about 90 percent pure regulatory cells.”
The approach worked with laboratory-grade alcohol, called butanol, as well as beverage-grade ethanol.
Normally, regulatory T cells constitute about 2-5 percent of all T cells, Dr. Iwashima says. Isolating them is doable but a long, expensive process.
When researchers gave some of the regulatory T cells to a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease, the symptoms, including dramatic weight loss, went away. Animals showed no classic signs of inflammation, just a significant increase in regulatory cells.
MCG researchers have obtained funding from the Arthritis Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to see if the cell therapy will work as well in animal models for arthritis and type 1diabetes.
“Our prediction and our hope is that we can restore balance,” says Dr. Iwashima. The usual 5- to 95-percent ratio of regulatory cells to non-regulatory T cells is lost in those with autoimmune disease, he says. However, too many regulatory cells also can be a problem, he says, noting that cancer patients have higher levels of regulatory cells.
Regulatory T cell therapy also resolved symptoms in a model of graft versus host disease, a problem for some bone marrow transplant patients when immune cells from the donor start attacking. This finding indicates a potential role for helping transplant patients keep new organs, the researchers say.
Dr. Iwashima has an Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation grant to pursue alcohol’s potential for helping isolate desirous regulatory cells. However, he cautions that his research findings are not a green light for patients with autoimmune disease to drink because of the negative health effects of regular alcohol consumption.
Dr. Iwashima and his colleagues believe the best way to optimize cell percentages is to do what the body does. In fact, they already are searching for an endogenous substance that interferes with phospholipase D.
“Ultimately, that is the most natural way, if we can find the compound in our bodies that can do the job,” Dr. Iwashima says. He theorizes that this natural substance helps destroy non-regulatory T cells when the body gets too many, say after fighting a big infection, and that it may not work well enough in people with autoimmune disease.
The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Other contributors include lead author Dr. Nagendra Singh, postdoctoral fellow; Dr. Yoichi Seki, postdoctoral fellow; Maniko Takami, research assistant; Dr. Babak Babah, postdoctoral fellow; Dr. Phil R. Chandler, principal research scientist; Dr. Davood Khosravi, former postdoctoral fellow; Dr. Xiangjian Zheng, former graduate student; Mayuko Takezaki, research associate; Dr. Jeffrey R. Lee, associate professor; Dr. Andrew L. Mellor, director, MCG Immunotherapy Center; and Dr. Wendy B. Bollag, professor.
Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences