Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Reins and Spurs for the Immune System

16.08.2006
How Disruptions of T Cell Balance Induce Severe Intestinal Inflammation
A finely tuned equilibrium between aggressive and inhibitive immune cells ensures that the intestinal mucosa remains healthy and functional.

Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, however, have studied on mice what happens when the normal interaction between these cells is disrupted: severe intestinal inflammation, whose symptoms closely resemble human autoimmune diseases, such as Morbus Crohn or Colitis ulcerosa.

"The intestinal surfaces form a border between the insides of the human body and the outside world, and they present our immune system with a monumental task," explains Dr. Astrid Westendorf, a researcher at the Helmholtz center. "Bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens that attempt to penetrate the body must be vehemently repelled at this point," she says. "On the other hand, nutrients, as well as the body's own cells and molecules, must not induce an immune reaction. Otherwise, a severe inflammation could result which might, in the long term, cause serious damage, and in some cases, even destroy the intestinal mucosa."

Dramatic Symptoms

This is exactly what happens with so-called Villin HA-mice, which were studied by Westendorf and her colleagues. "These animals belong to a genetically altered strain that possess a molecule known as hemagglutinin, or HA, on the cells of their intestinal mucosa," she says. Westendorf injected these animals with immune cells from the blood of other mice strains that specifically produced immune cells targeting HA. The result: the immune cells attacked the intestinal surface and induced dramatic symptoms similar to those of patients with chronic intestinal inflammation.

A Surprising Tolerance

When these two strains of mice are cross-bred, however, they produce something astonishing: "The progeny have both the HA on the intestinal surface as well as the special immune cells against HA in their blood, and yet, they remain healthy," notes Westendorf. The reason for this phenomenon, known as "immune tolerance", is probably the so-called regulatory T cells, or TREG , which are specific inhibitors of the immune system that shut down other defense cells before they go too far with their attacks and cause harm to the body. "These TREG must have developed in the animals in the course of their lives," says Dr.

Westendorf. They keep the defense cells in check, most of which are the CD4+ or CD8+ type T cells, since these would otherwise attack the always present components of their own intestinal surface.

Complex Interaction

"The constant interaction between aggressive T cells and inhibiting TREG keeps the immunological balance of our intestinal mucosa intact," explains Prof. Dr. Jan Buer, work group leader at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research. "Many chronic, inflammatory intestinal ailments occur because this balance no longer functions," he says. Buer hopes that a better understanding of the processes involved could open up opportunities to selectively turn immune system responses up or down. "That," he says, "could lead to possible therapies for autoimmune diseases, like Morbus Crohn, but also tumors and infections in which the immune reaction needs to be selectively activated."

Manfred Braun | alfa
Further information:
http://www.gbf.de

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Better equipped in the fight against lung cancer
16.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

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: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>