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Nottingham scientists identify trigger in cat allergy
Date:3/9/2011

"This is a great example of where Asthma UK's research funding is leading to a better understanding of asthma which could ultimately benefit thousands of people with both asthma and allergies."

Allergy is a disorder caused by the body's immune system reacting to usually harmless substances found in the environment, known as allergens. Believing itself under attack, the immune system produces a molecule called IgE, which eventually leads to release of further chemicals (including histamine) by certain immune cells which together cause an inflammatory response and the classic symptoms of allergy itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose and wheezing.

The Nottingham work, recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, has focused on the role of the mannose receptor (MR), a receptor found on the surface of dendritic cells. These cells are among the first cells in the immune system that come into contact with allergens.

The team recently found that the MR binds to a wide range of allergens and plays an important role in the allergic response to house dust mite allergens. In their latest study they looked at the contribution of MR to allergy caused by a major cat allergen called Fel d 1.

They were able to prove that MR is needed for the body to recognise Fel d 1 as a potential foreign invader and for the production of IgE against Fel d 1. The discovery shows that MR plays a pivotal role not only in recognising allergens but also in provoking the body's allergic response to them.


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Contact: Emma Thorne
emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-595-15793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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