Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

White Blood Cells Can Sprout 'Legs' And Move Like Millipedes

Date:
May 4, 2009
Source:
Weizmann Institute of Science
Summary:
Scientists have shown that rather than inching along blood vessel walls to reach injured tissue, white blood cells sprout hundreds of "legs" that grip the vessel walls and propel them, millipede-like, to the proper site.

Illustration of a white blood cell flowing in the bloodstream with red blood cells.
Credit: iStockphoto/Gary Caviness

How do white blood cells – immune system ‘soldiers’ – get to the site of infection or injury? To do so, they must crawl swiftly along the lining of the blood vessel – gripping it tightly to avoid being swept away in the blood flow – all the while searching for temporary ‘road signs’ made of special adhesion molecules that let them know where to cross the blood vessel barrier so they can get to the damaged tissue. 

Related Articles


In research recently published in the journal Immunity, Prof. Ronen Alon and his research student Ziv Shulman of the Weizmann Institute’s Immunology Department show how white blood cells advance along the length of the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels. Current opinion maintains that immune cells advance like inchworms, but Alon’s new findings show that the rapid movement of the white blood cells is more like that of millipedes.

Rather than sticking front and back, folding and extending to push itself forward, the cell creates numerous tiny ‘legs’ no more than a micron in length – adhesion points, rich in adhesion molecules (named LFA-1) that bind to partner adhesion molecules present on the surface of the blood vessels. Tens of these legs attach and detach in sequence within seconds – allowing them to move rapidly while keeping a good grip on the vessels’ sides.

Next, the scientists turned to the Institute’s Electron Microscopy Unit. Images produced by scanning and transmission electron microscopes, taken by Drs. Eugenia Klein and Vera Shinder, showed that upon attaching to the blood vessel wall, the white blood cell legs ‘dig’ themselves into the endothelium, pressing down on its surface. The fact that these legs – which had been thought to appear only when the cells leave the blood vessels – are used in crawling the vessel lining suggests that they may serve as probes to sense exit signals.

The researchers found that the shear force created by the blood flow was necessary for the legs to embed themselves. Without the thrust of the rushing blood, the white blood cells couldn’t sense the exit signals or get to the site of the injury. These results explain Alon’s previous findings that the blood’s shear force is essential for the white blood cells to exit the blood vessel wall. The present study suggests that shear forces cause their adhesion molecules to enter highly active states. The scientists believe that the tiny legs are trifunctional: Used for gripping, moving and sensing distress signals from the damaged tissue.

In future studies, the scientists plan to check whether it is possible to regulate aggressive immune reactions (such as in autoimmune diseases) by interrupting the ‘digging’ of immune cell legs into the endothelium. They also plan to investigate whether cancerous blood cells metastasize through the blood stream using similar mechanisms in order to exit the blood vessels and enter different tissues.     

Prof. Ronen Alon’s research is supported by the De Benedetti Foundation-Cherasco 1547. Prof. Alon is the incumbent of the Linda Jacobs Chair in Immune and Stem Cell Research.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Weizmann Institute of Science. "White Blood Cells Can Sprout 'Legs' And Move Like Millipedes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090504094424.htm>.
Weizmann Institute of Science. (2009, May 4). White Blood Cells Can Sprout 'Legs' And Move Like Millipedes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090504094424.htm
Weizmann Institute of Science. "White Blood Cells Can Sprout 'Legs' And Move Like Millipedes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090504094424.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 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