Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Superantigens could be behind several illnesses

Date:
November 29, 2010
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
Superantigens, the toxins produced by staphylococcus bacteria, are more complex than previously believed, reveals new research. The discovery shows that the body’s immune system can cause more illnesses than thought.

Karin Lindkvist and Maria Saline are two of the researchers who have studied how superantigens activate the immune system.
Credit: University of Gothenburg

Superantigens, the toxins produced by staphylococcus bacteria, are more complex than previously believed, reveals a team of researchers from the University of Gothenburg in an article published November 28 in the scientific journal Nature Communications. Their discovery shows that the body's immune system can cause more illnesses than realised.

Related Articles


"Superantigens have a real talent for disrupting the body's immune system," says Karin Lindkvist from the University of Gothenburg's Department of Cell- and Molecular Biology, one of the authors of the article. "If you're infected with bacteria that secrete superantigens, your immune system will respond so strongly that it'll make you ill. Our study shows that superantigens activate the immune system in more ways than previously thought."

We are all exposed daily to various types of foreign organism that can harm us. The human body has therefore developed cells whose role it is to "kill" and remove all foreign invaders that find their way in -- the immune system.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become increasingly common with the more widespread use of different types of antibiotics. Yellow staphylococci (Staphylococcus aureus) are one of the most common bacteria in the world around us, with most children and adults carrying them at some point. One strain, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), has developed resistance to penicillin and other penicillin-like antibiotics that are normally used to treat infections caused by staphylococci. Staphylococci can cause a variety of conditions such as long-term wound infections and abscesses, and can also lead to food poisoning.

The toxins produced by staphylococci are also known as superantigens. A normal viral infection will trigger the activation of around 0.0001% of the body's natural killer cells (T cells), which is enough to destroy the virus. However, contracting bacteria that secrete superantigens leads to the activation of 5-20% of the body's T cells. Such a strong immune response will often result in illness, which generally involves fever and extreme nausea. Superantigens are also well-known for causing toxic symptoms, as in toxic shock syndrome. There is also some speculation as to whether superantigens can cause autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

"By investigating how superantigens activate the immune system via its T cells, we've been able to show that they bind to more than one part of the T cell receptor," says Lindkvist. "This is an important discovery for our understanding of superantigens' biological function, and for the future development of a vaccine against superantigens. We haven't yet looked at whether other superantigens can activate T cells in the same complex way, but it's reasonable to assume that they can."

In addition to Karin Lindkvist, the research team behind the discovery comprises Maria Saline, Karin Rödström, Gerhard Fischer, Vladislav Orekhov and Göran Karlsson, all from the University of Gothenburg.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Maria Saline, Karin E. J. Rödström, Gerhard Fischer, Vladislav Yu. Orekhov, B. Göran Karlsson, Karin Lindkvist-Petersson. The structure of superantigen complexed with TCR and MHC reveals novel insights into superantigenic T cell activation. Nature Communications, 2010; 1 (8): 119 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1117

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Superantigens could be behind several illnesses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101128111113.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2010, November 29). Superantigens could be behind several illnesses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101128111113.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Superantigens could be behind several illnesses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101128111113.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 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