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Scripps research team sheds light on immune system suppression
Date:10/17/2008

The work was reported in the October 16 issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

The study described the suppression of this immune response in mice infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, pointing to potential new avenues for the development of drug treatments for immunosuppressive diseases in humans.

"It's the first demonstration that a virus causes suppression of the interferon response in vivo," says the paper's senior author Michael Oldstone, a Scripps Research professor and a pioneer in immune system studies. "This model explains how a secondary infection can be caused by a normal virus infection and this provides the guide for what to do and where to look in human diseases, which are of course more difficult."

Mammals have two main ways to fight off infections. Adaptive immune responses are those that involve the production of antibodies and T lymphocytes that attack specific infections. In contrast, innate immune responses are genetically encoded and are generally the same regardless of infection type. One key component of the innate immune system is interferon, which plays a range of roles including direct antiviral effects, activating innate natural killer cells and adaptive T lymphocytes, which destroy a wide range of infectious invaders.

To better understand this system, the Scripps Research team, spearheaded by Elina Zuniga, formerly a postdoctoral fellow in the Oldstone lab who is now assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, worked with mice infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, a model Oldstone describes as a Rosetta Stone for understanding viral pathogenesis and immune system recognition of foreign substances like microbes and viruses. The researchers found that the virus suppressed the mouse immune system by interacting with immune cells known as plamacytoid dendritic cells, which are key producers of one of two critical groups of interferons, known as typ
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Contact: Keith McKeown
kmckeown@scripps.edu
858-784-8134
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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