Immunologists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg have demonstrated that ILC2, a group of rare lymphoid cells, play a key role in the development of inflammatory arthritis. ILCs have several functional similarities to T-cells and are important agents of our congenital immune system. The FAU researchers’ findings could form the basis for new approaches for treating rheumatoid arthritis. The findings have now been published in the renowned journal ‘Cell Reports’.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory joint conditions. In contrast to osteoarthritis, where patients’ joints degenerate, the symptoms of arthritis such as overheating, swelling and redness, occur in flare-ups and are frequently caused by disturbances in the immune system.
The disease mainly affects the fingers and toes, but also knees, shoulders and hip joints. Around one percent of the population suffer from the condition and women are three times more likely to suffer from it than men. Treatment usually focuses on easing pain and slowing down the progression of the disease as there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis.
Rare immune cell regulates arthritis
Immunologists at FAU have now proven that ILC2, a rare form of lymphocyte, plays a key role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Although ILCs, so-called ‘innate lymphoid cells’, do not have the T cell and B cell receptors nor cell type markers that are otherwise typical for lymphocytes, they are pivotal in defending the human body from pathogens.
They are often the ‘first aiders’ who alarm the immune system before the actual immunisation begins. ‘From earlier research, we know that ILC2 can initiate the suppression of chronic inflammation by producing the cell signal molecule IL-9’, says project manager Dr. Mario Zaiss from the Department of Medicine 3 – Rheumatology and Immunology at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen. ‘In our current study, we specifically examined the role of ILC2s in the early stage of rheumatoid arthritis’.
ILC2 only helps before the onset of the disease
Firstly, Zaiss and his colleagues were able to demonstrate that the number of ILC2 in the peripheral blood and in the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis is significantly higher than in healthy people. Laboratory tests confirmed the regulatory function of ILC2.
When the researchers reduced the number of these immune cells genetically, this exacerbated the progression of the disease later on, while increasing the number of ILC2 during therapy significantly reduced the arthritis. The researchers, however, cannot hold out any hope that they will be able to cure patients who already have inflammatory arthritis through targeted enrichment of ILC2.
‘There is no doubt that ILC2 has a regulatory effect during the early stage of arthritis,’ explains Mario Zaiss. ‘However, any treatment must start before the onset of the disease – transferring ILC2 later on does not improve symptoms.’
Further research is set to find safe methods of increasing the number of ILC2 in the body in a targeted manner. Researchers must also find new and reliable methods of detecting signs of arthritis before the onset of the disease as this is the only time when these rare lymphocytes can be used as a treatment.
Dr. Mario Zaiss
Phone: +49 9131 8543212
Doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.06.005 ‘Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cells Attenuate Inflammatory Arthritis and Protect from Bone Destruction in Mice’ in Cell Reports
Dr. Susanne Langer | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
'Flamenco dancing' molecule could lead to better-protecting sunscreen
18.10.2019 | University of Warwick
Synthetic cells make long-distance calls
17.10.2019 | Rice University
A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)
It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...
Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.
The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...
Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.
Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...
A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.
The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...
Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...
02.10.2019 | Event News
02.10.2019 | Event News
19.09.2019 | Event News
18.10.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.10.2019 | Medical Engineering
18.10.2019 | Physics and Astronomy