Researchers in Braunschweig have tracked down a natural inhibitor mechanism in our immune system. The molecule, known as GPR83, can block over-reactions by our immune system's defenses before these damage body tissues, according to scientists at the German Research Centre for Biotechnology (GBF). GPR83 manages to do this by switching immune cells from their aggressive defense posture into a more docile mode. A breakdown of this mechanism, the researchers say, could play a role in auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Type-1 diabetes, as well as in host defense against severe infections. A summary of the findings has been published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Immunology.
A constant back-and-forth between the encouragement and inhibition of signals directs the activities of the human immune system. When bacteria or viruses enter the human organism, immune cells must be in a position to act swiftly and effectively against the invaders. That is why immune responses have the tendency to quickly accelerate into overdrive with self-amplifying mechanisms, even when the threat is minor. In the case of a false alarm, this can lead to an attack on the body's own tissue and, in turn, cause serious damage. For this reason, it is indispensable that the immune system has specific inhibitor mechanisms to subdue over-reactions.
T cells are among the most potent defenders of the immune cells, which among others things can kill infected cells. "Some T cells appear to possess a built-in blocker on their surfaces," explains GBF researcher Dr. Wiebke Hansen. "The molecule GPR83 serves as a receptor - as a kind of antenna - that responds to strong immune system over-reactions. When GPR83 is activated, the T cells do not become killers but are transformed into docile regulatory T cells - TREGs for short," says Dr. Hansen. From then on, they induce an immune tolerance by deactivating other T cells. "However, just who in the body is stepping on the brakes, and under what circumstances, still has to be clarified more thoroughly," she says.
For the Braunschweig researchers, studying the functions and impact of the GPR83 T cell inhibitor is promising. "If, at some point, we are able to find a way to stimulate GPR83 with drugs, this could be used to treat over-reactions or malfunctions of the immune system; for example, in the case of auto-immune diseases and chronic inflammations," notes the GBF work group leader, Prof. Jan Buer. By contrast, a targeted blocking of GPR83 would make the immune system more aggressive, and that, says Buer, could some day be interesting for treating severe infections, or for tumor therapy.
Manfred Braun | alfa
Microscope measures muscle weakness
16.11.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Good preparation is half the digestion
16.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences