Researchers have found a way to selectively block the ability of white blood cells to crawl toward the sites of injury and infection when such mobility drives disease, according to a study published today in The Journal of Experimental Medicine. The results suggest a new treatment approach for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis, and for conditions made worse by misplaced inflammation, like atherosclerosis, stroke and transplant rejection, researchers said.
Where a single-celled amoeba moves to find food, human cells migrate as part of complex bodily functions like immunity. Disease-fighting cells for instance move toward bacteria and cells infected with viruses, which they target for destruction. Unfortunately, the same cells can mistakenly attack the bodys own cells or drive inflammation too far, worsening the problem they rushed in to solve.
A team of researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center has been studying proteins called integrins that enable T cells, a major subset of immune cells, to migrate. The integrin-related mechanisms described for the first time in the current paper suggest a way to shut down only those T cells currently in the act of disease-related migration, while leaving in place reserves needed in the likely event that another infection occurs during treatment. Making the mechanistic discoveries possible was a successful effort by the team to capture on video the first detailed images of fast-migrating T cells and the behavior of key proteins related to migration, which had been tagged with fluorescence. Twelve videos of T cells, and their key migration proteins, in action are part of the publication and are available online.
There are many cases where it would be incredibly useful to precisely block integrin activation, and thus T cell migration, said Minsoo Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology within the David H. Smith Center fo
|Contact: Greg Williams|
University of Rochester Medical Center