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

show a predisposition to atherosclerosis.

Using laboratory mice as an experimental model, the researchers were able to show that pDCs contribute to early steps in the formation of athersclerotic lesions in the blood vessels. Stimulation of pDCs causes them to secrete large amounts of interferons, proteins that strongly stimulate inflammatory processes. The protein that induces the release of interferons is produced by immune cells that accumulate specifically at sites of inflammation, and mice that are unable to produce this protein also have fewer plaques. Stimulation of pDCs in turn leads to an increase in the numbers of macrophages present in plaques. Macrophages normally act as a clean-up crew, removing cell debris and fatty deposits by ingesting and degrading them. However, they can also "overindulge", taking up more fat than they can digest. When this happens, they turn into so-called foam cells that promote rather than combat atherosclerosis. In addition, activated, mature pDCs can initiate an immune response against certain molecules found in atherosclerotic lesions, which further exacerbates the whole process.

The stimulation of pDCs provides the link between atherosclerosis and autoimmune diseases. "The pDCs themselves are stimulated by the self-antigens that set off the autoimmune reactions which result in conditions like psoriasis and SLE," says Dring. Indeed, it is well known that the secretion of interferons by activated pDCs contributes to the genesis of a number of autoimmune diseases

"The newly discovered involvement of pDCs in the development of atherosclerosis establishes a direct link between this disorder and autoimmune reactions, and reveals why the stimulation of pDC that is characteristic of autoimmune diseases contributes to the progression of atherosclerosis," says Weber. "The findings also suggest new approaches to the treatment of chronic inflammation that could be useful for a whole range of diseases."


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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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