Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Combating Age-related Immune-response Decline: Protein Found To Stimulate Production Of T-cells

Date:
July 23, 2008
Source:
University of Montreal
Summary:
Scientists have identified a protein that stimulates the production of T-cells, the white blood cells involved in the recognition and the elimination of infectious agents. The discovery could help to combat age-related declines in immune response.

A team of Canadian and Finnish scientists has identified a protein able to stimulate the production of T-cells, the white blood cells involved in the recognition and the elimination of infectious agents. The discovery by researchers of the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) at the Universitι de Montrιal in Canada and the University of Oulu in Finland could help to combat age-related declines in immune response.

Thanks to the work of Dr. Claude Perreault and his team, which identified the properties of a protein called Wnt4, it is now possible to envision news ways to reverse the age-related decline of the immune system. "Thymic atrophy is a major public health problem," said Dr. Perreault.

"It compromises the efficacy of vaccination and weakens the resistance to common viruses, for instance to the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is responsible each year for the hospitalization of more than 150,000 people in the U.S. This is due to the fact that 'old' T cells are not equipped to face the threat of new foreign bodies, whether they are viruses or tumours."

The atrophy of the thymus, a small gland at the base of the neck where T cells mature, is one of the most obvious signs of the age-related decline of the immune system. This decline becomes significant towards the age of 50. It is caused not only by a decreased output of T cells from the thymus, but also by a decreased ability to recognize new antigens. The result is an increased susceptibility to infection as well as a lowered resistance to the immunosuppressive effects of chemotherapy.

Wnt4 protein stimulates white blood cells

By inducing an overproduction of the Wnt4 protein in the cells of the mouse immune system, Dr. Perreault and his collaborators were able to observe the stimulatory effect this protein exerts on the development of white blood cells. Using molecular markers that are specific to the different stages of cell maturation, IRIC researchers determined that elevated levels of Wnt4 led to a marked increase in the number of white blood cell progenitors, and of immature T cells in the thymus in particular.

Conversely, they found that deletion of the Wnt4 gene and lack of the corresponding protein was associated with a decrease in the number of T cell progenitors in the thymus.

After showing that Wnt4 could stimulate thymopoiesis, the name given to the production of T cells in the thymus, Dr. Perreault and his team sought to understand the mode of action of the protein. Isabelle Louis, a graduate student, and Dr. Krista Heinonen, a postdoctoral fellow, analyzed the changes in gene activity triggered by exposure to

Wnt4. Results were conclusive: Wnt4 increases the number of T cell progenitors by inducing the expression of genes involved in cell survival. IRIC researchers also showed that Wnt4 does not mediate these changes in gene expression through the intracellular pathway normally activated by members of the Wnt family, i.e. stabilization of a signalling protein called b-catenin, but rather through an alternative pathway involving members of the JNK family of proteins. The IRIC team is now investigating ways to capitalize on its discovery to develop new therapeutic agents.

The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Cancer Institute of Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Louis et al. The Signaling Protein Wnt4 Enhances Thymopoiesis and Expands Multipotent Hematopoietic Progenitors through β-Catenin-Independent Signaling. Immunity, 2008; 29 (1): 57 DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2008.04.023

Cite This Page:

University of Montreal. "Combating Age-related Immune-response Decline: Protein Found To Stimulate Production Of T-cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080722114201.htm>.
University of Montreal. (2008, July 23). Combating Age-related Immune-response Decline: Protein Found To Stimulate Production Of T-cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080722114201.htm
University of Montreal. "Combating Age-related Immune-response Decline: Protein Found To Stimulate Production Of T-cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080722114201.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins