Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Interferon Needed For Cells To 'Remember' How To Defeat A Virus

Date:
December 8, 2008
Source:
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Summary:
Scientists have determined that the immune-system protein interferon plays a key role in "teaching" the immune system how to fight off repeated infections of the same virus.

Dr. David Farrar (right) led immunology researchers, including student assistants Ann Davis (center) and Hilario Ramos, in demonstrating that the protein interferon plays a key role in "teaching" the immune system how to stave off repeated infections of the same virus.
Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have determined that the immune-system protein interferon plays a key role in "teaching" the immune system how to fight off repeated infections of the same virus.

Related Articles


The findings have potential application in the development of more effective vaccines and anti-viral therapies.

Typically, when a person is infected with a virus, the human body immediately generates a massive number of T cells – a type of immune cell – that kill off the infected cells. Once the infection has cleared, most of the T cells also die off, leaving behind a small pool of central memory cells that "remember" how to fight that particular type of virus if the person is infected again.

"In this study, we have uncovered interferon's role and the key signaling protein, called IL-2, involved in generating memory T cells," said Dr. David Farrar, assistant professor of immunology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. "Knowing how T cells acquire this memory may help us design better strategies and vaccines to fight HIV and other infectious diseases. Further, our discovery was made using primary human CD4+ T cells, which underscores the relevance of our discovery to human immune responses."

CD4+ T cells coordinate the actions of other cells at the site of infection.

When a virus or bacterium infects a human, the infected cells secrete several molecules, including a cytokine – or signaling protein – called interferon alpha. The action of interferon is what makes an infected person feel run down and tired. Although scientists knew that interferon alpha prevented a virus from multiplying and spreading, they didn't know what role interferon played in the creation of memory cells.

In the current study, the UT Southwestern researchers show that both interferon alpha and another signaling protein called IL-12 are needed to induce the creation of memory cells. They found that interferon and IL-12 team up to promote the creation of a special set of cells that then secrete another signaling protein called IL-2. These IL-2-secreting cells are the ones that remain in the body and "remember" how to fight off the virus.

"Without the IL-2 signaling protein, you'll generate a beautiful primary response against a virus, and you'll eliminate the bug, but your body won't remember how it defeated the virus," Dr. Farrar said. "Without these memory cells, your body is defenseless against re-infections."

Ann Davis, student research assistant in immunology and lead author of the study, said this suggests a new role for interferon: teacher.

"This is really the first demonstration of a role for interferon in teaching a T cell how to respond to viral infections," she said.

Dr. Farrar added: "Up until now, interferon has always been appreciated for its role in inhibiting virus infections. But no one's really paid attention to interferon and its role in regulating memory. That's why we're so excited about this result."

The next step, Dr. Farrar said, is to complete the same study in mice. Early results show that mice with T cells that can't respond to interferon are unable to protect themselves when a virus invades.

"Their immune systems have no idea how to fight the virus," Dr. Farrar said. Dr. Farrar said these early findings in mice may pave the way for designing more effective vaccines.

This research is available online and in the Dec. 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology. Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Hilario Ramos, student research assistant in immunology, and Dr. Laurie Davis, associate professor of internal medicine.

The National Institutes of Health supported the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Interferon Needed For Cells To 'Remember' How To Defeat A Virus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203084316.htm>.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2008, December 8). Interferon Needed For Cells To 'Remember' How To Defeat A Virus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203084316.htm
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Interferon Needed For Cells To 'Remember' How To Defeat A Virus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203084316.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toxin-Packed Stem Cells Used To Kill Cancer

Toxin-Packed Stem Cells Used To Kill Cancer

Newsy (Oct. 25, 2014) — A Harvard University Research Team created genetically engineered stem cells that are able to kill cancer cells, while leaving other cells unharmed. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
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