Researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech have discovered how abscisic acid, a natural plant hormone with known beneficial properties for the treatment of disease, helps fight inflammation. The results (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/210882970), which are published in the November 2010 Journal of Biological Chemistry, reveal important new drug targets for the development of treatments for inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases.
The scientists had reported some of the key molecular events in the immune system of mice that contribute to inflammation-related disease, including the involvement of a specific molecule found on the surface of immune cells involved in the body's fight against infection (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21068720). They have now gone one step further and revealed the mechanism by which the natural drug abscisic acid interacts with this protein, known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma, to block inflammation and the subsequent onset of disease.
"In previous work, our research group demonstrated that abscisic acid has beneficial effects on several conditions and diseases including obesity-related inflammation, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease," said Josep Bassaganya-Riera, associate professor of immunology at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, leader of the Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Group in the institute's CyberInfrastructure Division, and principal investigator of the study. "One idea for how abscisic acid reduces inflammation in these instances is that it binds to a special region of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma, a binding site known as the ligand-binding domain where the drug would be expected to latch on to and exert its effect. Our results show that this is not the case an
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