The published research has helped to advance medical understanding of how the body defends against disease and heals itself.
The study also reveals that the same protein, Properdin –discovered only half a century ago- can also harm internal organs under certain circumstances.
Lack of the protein in the human body has previously been linked to susceptibility to meningitis.
But the new findings by Dr Cordula Stover, of the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Leicester assign hitherto unappreciated importance to this protein of the immune defence.
Her work, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), is published in the form of two papers in the Journal of Immunology. It is being published in print on May 15.
Dr Stover, a Lecturer in Immunology, said: “I have a broad interest in immune mechanisms of health and disease, though recently, I have focused on a particular component of the first line immune defence, a protein called Properdin.
“Properdin deficiency in families, though rare, predisposes people to develop meningococcal meningitis, usually with poor outcome of the infection.
“I hypothesised that the importance of Properdin extends beyond this particular infectious disease, and that indeed it is an important player in health generally, and that its importance becomes apparent in conditions involving both acute and chronic states of inflammation.
“I was most delighted to obtain funding from the MRC to investigate this.”
Now two of Dr Stover’s papers, published in the Journal of Immunology, demonstrate that Properdin plays a significant role in the survival of conditions relating to surgical perforation of the gut and activation of the immune system by wall components of bacteria.
In conditions relating to multi-organ dysfunction, a complication which can occur in response to severe sepsis, Properdin however aggravates organ damage.
Dr Stover added: “So far, the system Properdin is a part of - the so-called complement system - is classified as a first line, innate, acutely effective immune activation mechanism.
“My work shows that the activity of Properdin extends beyond the acute phase and, importantly, that Properdin is stepping onto the stage as an important player in different inflammatory conditions.
“As the worldwide burden of chronic inflammatory disease increases, it is of practical relevance to understand the contribution of this immune protein.”
· The history of Properdin extends about 50 years with the first significant biochemical characterisations made in the USA, however, subsequently, the UK has contributed tremendously with the characterisation of the Properdin gene and structural modelling of the Properdin protein.
Deep stimulation improves cognitive control by augmenting brain rhythms
04.04.2019 | Picower Institute at MIT
Black nanoparticles slow the growth of tumors
04.04.2019 | Technische Universität München
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...
Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.
Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...
Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna
A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences
18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences