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Dendritic cells protect against acute pancreatitis
Date:11/22/2011

NYU Langone Medical Center researchers have discovered the novel protective role dendritic cells play in the pancreas. The new study, published in the November issue of journal Gastroenterology, shows dendritic cells can safeguard the pancreas against acute pancreatitis, a sudden dangerous swelling and inflammation of the pancreas gland.

"Our study findings demonstrate that an abundance of dendritic cells are needed in the pancreas for normal, healthy pancreatic function, especially when there are high levels of inflammation caused by acute pancreatitis," said senior author George Miller, MD, assistant professor, Departments of Surgery and Cell Biology at NYU Langone Medical Center. "The study shows that dendritic cells can alleviate cellular stress caused by severe inflammation."

In the new study, researchers found high levels of dendritic cells in the pancreas can protect the organ from acute pancreatitis damage while low levels of dendritic cells in the pancreas are associated with exacerbated pancreas injury including pancreatic necrosis, complete pancreas cell and tissue death.

The pancreas is a vital hormone and enzyme-producing gland assisting in the human body's digestion and absorption of food. However, the gland can become inflamed leading to acute pancreatitis, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, severe cases can lead to pancreatic necrosis. Its two percent overall mortality rate jumps to 10 to 30 percent in patients with pancreatic necrosis. The disorder results in 200,000 hospital admissions and two billion dollars annually in medical expenses in the United States.

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic, developing over time. It's caused by gallstones, alcohol abuse, or medications. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and current treatments include hospitalization, medication, restricted diet or surgery. Pancreatitis can be reduced or prevented with removal of the gall
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Contact: Lauren Woods
lauren.woods@nyumc.org
212-404-3555
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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