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The long arm of the dendritic cell
Date:4/4/2012

Individuals who suffer from autoimmune diseases also display a tendency to develop atherosclerosis the condition popularly known as hardening of the arteries. Clinical researchers at LMU, in collaboration with colleagues in Wrzburg, have now discovered a mechanism which helps to explain the connection between the two types of disorder. The link is provided by a specific class of immune cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). pDCs respond to DNA released from damaged and dying cells by secreting interferon proteins which stimulate the immune reactions that underlie autoimmune diseases. The new study shows that stimulation of pDCs by a specific DNA-protein complex contributes to the progression of atherosclerosis. The findings may have implications for new strategies for the treatment of a whole spectrum of conditions that are associated with chronic inflammatory reactions.

Atherosclerosis is a major cause of death in Western societies. The illness is due to the formation of insoluble deposits called atherosclerotic plaques on the walls of major arteries as a consequence of chronic, localized inflammation reactions. By reducing blood flow, the plaques can provoke heart attacks and strokes. A class of immune cells called dendritic cells plays a crucial role in facilitating the development of these plaques. The term refers to a heterogeneous cell population that makes up part of the immune system. Among the cell types represented in this population are the so-called plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC), but their potential significance for atherosclerosis had not been explored until now. A group of researchers led by Dr. Yvonne Dring in Professor Christian Weber's department at LMU, together with a team supervised by Privatdozentin Dr. Alma Zernecke of Wrzburg University, has now shown how pDCs promote the development of atherosclerosis - and explained why patients with autoimmune disorders, such as psoriasis or systemic lupus erythematodes (SLE),
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Contact: Dr. Kathrin Bilgeri
kathrin.bilgeri@lmu.de
49-892-180-6938
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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