Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Immune cell activity linked to worsening COPD

Date:
December 19, 2009
Source:
University of Michigan Health System
Summary:
A new study links chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with increased activity of cells that act as sentinels to activate the body's immune system. COPD affects more than 12 million Americans. Immune factors may be key if doctors are to find better ways to detect and treat the disease early when patients might benefit.

A new study links chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, with increased activity of cells that act as sentinels to activate the body's immune system.

Related Articles


The University of Michigan and Veterans Affairs research adds to growing awareness of the immune system's role in COPD, a serious, progressive lung disease that affects more than 12 million Americans with wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightening and other symptoms. Understanding immune factors is key if doctors are to find better ways to detect and treat the disease early when patients might benefit most, believe some COPD researchers.

Nearly all people diagnosed with COPD have emphysema or chronic bronchitis or most commonly, both conditions. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Most people with COPD are smokers or former smokers.

"We found that dendritic cells, a type of immune cell that initiates immune responses, are in the lung interacting with lymphocytes, and that these dendritic cells seem to get more active as the disease goes on. If we could alter or stop their action, perhaps we could stop the disease from progressing," says the study's senior author Jeffrey L. Curtis, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and chief of the pulmonary and critical care medicine section at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

The study appears in the December 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Lung damage occurs well before people with COPD are aware of symptoms. By the time they seek medical help, the destructive forces of chronic lung inflammation often have taken a heavy toll. Immune cells in repetitive overdrive play a key role in that inflammation response, COPD researchers increasingly believe.

Research details

Curtis and his research team analyzed the activity of dendritic cells and other immune cells in lung tissue from patients at early and more severe stages of COPD. They found that as the disease progresses, multiple types of dendritic cells located in different parts the lung produce more of a stimulatory molecule associated with increased immune system activity. They also found two significant signs of increased activity in CD4+ T cells, important immune cells that, when activated, communicate with and direct other immune cells.

"Our data suggest that CD4+ T cells are more activated in later stages of COPD," says Christine M. Freeman, the study's first author and a research investigator in internal medicine at U-M.

"This is not necessarily a good thing, because increased activation suggests that there is an inappropriate and excessive immune response taking place in the lungs of patients with severe COPD."

One strategy to help prevent COPD from worsening could be to make dendritic cells less inflammatory, says Curtis, adding that it is a significant challenge to intervene in the immune system without undermining its ability to fight infection.

Key facts about COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a leading cause of disability and killed more than 125,000 Americans over age 25 in 2005. It affects slightly more women than men.

Most people under the umbrella term COPD have emphysema or chronic bronchitis, or both. But asthma, respiratory infections, air pollutants and genetic factors also play a role.

People with emphysema suffer from severe shortness of breath that makes even simple daily tasks like dressing difficult. People with chronic bronchitis experience difficulty breathing, coughing and excessive mucus.

An estimated 40 percent of smokers get COPD. Recent research suggests the disease is more common than previously thought.

Ex-smokers remain at risk. It's common for symptoms to arise in ex-smokers even decades after they have quit smoking.

"Even if everyone in the world stopped smoking today, we would be dealing with the effects of this for 40 years," says Curtis.

Few treatments are very effective. Corticosteroids are of limited use in reducing inflammation.

People with COPD experience higher levels of depression and anxiety that those with other chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes, studies have shown.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Christine M. Freeman, Fernando J. Martinez, MeiLan K. Han, Theresa M. Ames, Stephen W. Chensue, Jill C. Todt, Douglas A. Arenberg, Catherine A. Meldrum, Christi Getty, Lisa McCloskey, and Jeffrey L. Curtis. Lung Dendritic Cell Expression of Maturation Molecules Increases with Worsening Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2009; 180 (12): 1179 DOI: 10.1164/rccm.200904-0552OC

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan Health System. "Immune cell activity linked to worsening COPD." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091215131330.htm>.
University of Michigan Health System. (2009, December 19). Immune cell activity linked to worsening COPD. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091215131330.htm
University of Michigan Health System. "Immune cell activity linked to worsening COPD." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091215131330.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