Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Previously Unknown Immune Cell May Help Those With Crohn's And Colitis

Date:
November 5, 2008
Source:
Washington University School of Medicine
Summary:
The tonsils and lymphoid tissues in the intestinal tract that help protect the body from external pathogens are the home base of a rare newly identified immune cell. Researchers indicate that the immune cells could have a therapeutic role in inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

The tonsils and lymphoid tissues in the intestinal tract that help protect the body from external pathogens are the home base of a rare immune cell newly identified by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The researchers indicate that the immune cells could have a therapeutic role in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Related Articles


"These cells have an anti-inflammatory effect," says the article's lead author Marina Cella, M.D., research associate professor of pathology and immunology. "In the gut, we have beneficial bacteria, and it's important that the body does not recognize them as something detrimental and start an inflammatory reaction, which could ultimately promote tissue damage and inflammatory or autoimmune diseases such as IBD. The cells we've discovered are important for keeping such harmful inflammatory processes in check."

The cells are a type of natural killer (NK) cells, which are white blood cells classically known to eliminate tumor cells and cells infected by viruses. Because of their killer tendencies, NK cells are carefully controlled and don't act until they receive the right signal.

Some of the signals that activate the newly discovered cells are the same signals that turn on a different immune cell with strong inflammatory properties that can promote cell death and tissue damage if chronically active. But the anti-inflammatory cells, termed NK-22 cells, that the Washington University researchers discovered have the opposite effect — they promote cell proliferation and wound healing.

"That finding suggests that these cells play a role in maintaining a balance in the immune system between inflammatory processes and anti-inflammatory processes," says coauthor Jason Mills, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and immunology and of developmental biology. "They make sure that factors that turn up inflammation can be counteracted by the coordinated activation of anti-inflammatory effects."

The NK-22 cells are part of the innate immune system, which reacts quickly to invading pathogens. The researchers found that in response to immune signals warning of foreign invaders, the cells produce copious quantities of a compound called IL-22, which is why the researchers chose to name them NK-22 cells.

"NK-22 cells are already present in the mucosal tissue of the gastrointestinal tract, and as soon as they see a pathogen, they react," Cella says. "That is a great advantage to the body because it produces a protective response in the very first hours of pathogenic attack."

Now that immunologists know NK-22 cells exist and what immune factors influence them, they may be able to capitalize on them to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases, the researchers say.

"Diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease result from a defect in the intestine's protective barrier," says senior author Marco Colonna, M.D., professor of pathology and immunology. "If we can develop methods to culture NK-22 cells, we may be able to use them to promote healing and protect the gastrointestinal tract."

Funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases supported this research.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Cella et al. A human natural killer cell subset provides an innate source of IL-22 for mucosal immunity. Nature, November 2, 2008; DOI: 10.1038/nature07537

Cite This Page:

Washington University School of Medicine. "Previously Unknown Immune Cell May Help Those With Crohn's And Colitis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081103160846.htm>.
Washington University School of Medicine. (2008, November 5). Previously Unknown Immune Cell May Help Those With Crohn's And Colitis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081103160846.htm
Washington University School of Medicine. "Previously Unknown Immune Cell May Help Those With Crohn's And Colitis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081103160846.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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