Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UCLA scientists identify novel pathway for T-cell activation in leprosy

Finding may help develop new treatments for infectious diseases, cancer

UCLA researchers pinpointed a new mechanism that potently activates T-cells, the group of white blood cells that play a major role in fighting infections.

Published March 25 online in Nature Medicine, the team specifically studied how dendritic cells, immune cells located at the site of infection, become more specialized to fight the leprosy pathogen known as Mycobacterium leprae. Dendritic cells, like scouts in the field of a military operation, deliver key information about an invading pathogen that helps activate the T-cells in launching a more effective attack.

It was previously known that dendritic cells were important for a strong immune response and the number of such cells at an infection site positively correlated with a robust reaction. However, until now it was poorly understood how dendritic cells become more specialized to address specific types of infections.

The researchers found that a protein called NOD2 triggers a cell-signaling molecule called interleukin-32 that induces general immune cells called monocytes to become specialized information-carrying dendritic cells.

"This is the first time that this potent infection-fighting pathway with dendritic cells has been identified, and demonstrated to be important in fighting human disease," said the study's first author Mirjam Schenk, postdoctoral scholar, division of dermatology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

In conducting the study, scientists used monocytes taken from the blood of healthy donors and leprosy patients and incubated the cells with the pathogen M. Leprae or specific parts of the mycobacteria, known to trigger NOD2 and TLR2, both associated with immune system activation.

Scientists wanted to investigate how these proteins might trigger mechanisms that turn on different immune receptors that recognize specific parts of the microbe in an infection. The NOD2 interleukin-32 pathway was the most effective and caused monocytes to develop into dendritic cells that carry critical information about the pathogen to the T-cells.

The team studied the gene expression profiles of the protein-triggered pathways and then also examined how the monocytes of leprosy patients responded to NOD2. Scientists found that NOD2 worked to induce moncytes to dendritic cells in tuberloid leprosy, a milder infection that is more easily contained. The NOD2 pathway was inhibited and could not be activated in lepromatous leprosy, which is more serious and causes widespread infection throughout the body.

"We were surprised to find the high potency of the dendritic cells in triggering certain specific T-cell responses, which may be useful in developing new therapeutic strategies for infectious diseases and cancer," said senior investigator Dr. Robert Modlin, UCLA's Klein Professor of Dermatology and chief of dermatology at the Geffen School of Medicine.

Leprosy, one of the world's oldest known diseases, is a chronic infectious disease that affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, the upper respiratory tract and the eyes and can lead to disfigurement of the hands, face and feet. In 2008, approximately 249,000 new cases of leprosy were reported worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Modlin adds that leprosy is a good model to study immune mechanisms in host defense since it presents as a clinical spectrum that correlates with the level and type of immune response of the pathogen.

The next stage of research will involve trying to further understand how to manipulate the innate immune system to induce a potent immune response in human infections and possibly for cancer immunotherapy as well.

The study was funded by the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (Grant numbers: RO1s AI022553, AR040312 and AI047868.)

Additional authors include: Stephan R Krutzik, Peter A Sieling, Delphine J. Lee, Rosane M. B. Teles, and Maria Teresa Ochoa from the Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Genhong Cheng, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Evangelia Komisopoulou and Thomas G. Graeber, Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, Institute for Molecular Medicine, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, California NanoSystems Institute, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA; Euzenir N. Sarno, Department of Mycobacteriosis, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Thomas H. Rea, Department of Dermatology, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California and Soohyun Kim, Department of Biomedical Science and Technology, Konkuk University, Seoul Korea.

Rachel Champeau | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>