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U of M research uncovers gene's contribution to asthma susceptibility
Date:9/23/2013

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (09/23/2013) -- New research from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has uncovered the role gene ORMDL3 plays in the disease asthma. ORMDL3, a gene recently linked to asthma susceptibility, has now been linked to the body's ability to recruit inflammatory cells during an airway allergic reaction. Study findings appear today in the journal Nature Communications.

U of M researchers including Srirama Rao, Ph.D., (P. Sriramarao), CVM professor in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and associate dean for research, as well as professor in the U of M Medical School's Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, has identified a function of how ORMDL3 regulates the recruitment of inflammatory cells to airways, thus causing airway inflammation, in a mouse model.

Sung Gil Ha, Ph.D., a CVM post-doctoral fellow and the study's lead author, and colleagues have identified factors that up-regulate the ORMDL3 gene in specific white blood cells such as eosinophils during allergic asthma. Eosinophils are white blood cells intended to help protect the body from parasites; however, in the case of certain types of inflammation including exposure to allergens, instead of providing protection, they can cause tissue damage leading to asthma or other allergic disorders.

Not much is known about the function of ORMDL3 in asthma. By silencing or over-expressing ORMDL3 in eosinophils, the group has identified molecules regulated by the gene. These molecules enable eosinophils to congregate in airways where they cause allergic inflammation.

When turning the ORMDL3 gene off, researchers found lower levels of integrins expressed on the surface of eosinophils, meaning a decreased ability of eosinophils to migrate and cause inflammation in the airways.

"While exciting, our finding is just one piece of the puzzle," said Rao. "The more we understand abou
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Contact: Miranda Taylor
tayl0551@umn.edu
612-626-2767
University of Minnesota Academic Health Center
Source:Eurekalert

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