Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Natural killer cells could be key to anthrax defense

Date:
October 31, 2011
Source:
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Summary:
Researchers have found new allies for the fight against anthrax. Known as natural killer cells, they're a part of the immune system normally associated with eliminating tumor cells and cells infected by viruses. But natural killer cells also attack bacteria -- including anthrax, according to a new study.

One of the things that makes inhalational anthrax so worrisome for biodefense experts is how quickly a relatively small number of inhaled anthrax spores can turn into a lethal infection. By the time an anthrax victim realizes he or she has something worse than the flu and seeks treatment, it's often too late; even the most powerful antibiotics may be no help against the spreading bacteria and the potent toxins they generate.

Related Articles


Now, though, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers have found new allies for the fight against anthrax. Known as natural killer cells, they're a part of the immune system normally associated with eliminating tumor cells and cells infected by viruses. But natural killer cells also attack bacteria -- including anthrax, according to the UTMB group.

"People become ill so suddenly from inhalational anthrax that there isn't time for a T cell response, the more traditional cellular immune response," said UTMB assistant professor Janice Endsley, lead author of a paper now online in the journal Infection and Immunity. "NK cells can do a lot of the same things, and they can do them immediately."

In test-tube experiments, a collaborative team led by Endsley and Professor Johnny Peterson profiled the NK cell response to anthrax, documenting how NK cells successfully detected and killed cells that had been infected by anthrax, destroying the bacteria inside the cells along with them. Surprisingly, they found that NK cells were also able to detect and kill anthrax bacteria outside of human cells.

"Somehow these NK cells were able to recognize that there was something hostile there, and they actually caused the death of these bacteria," Endsley said.

In further experiments, the group compared the anthrax infection responses of normal mice and mice that were given a treatment to remove NK cells from the body. All the mice died with equal rapidity when given a large dose of anthrax spores, but the non-treated (NK cell-intact) mice had much lower levels of bacteria in their blood. "This is a significant finding," Endsley said. "Growth of bacteria in the bloodstream is an important part of the disease process."

The next step, according to Endsley, is to apply an existing NK cell-augmentation technique (many have already been developed for cancer research) to mice, in an attempt to see if the more numerous and active NK cells can protect them from anthrax. Even if the augmented NK cells don't provide enough protection by themselves, they could give a crucial boost in combination with antibiotic treatment.

"We may not be able to completely control something just by modulating the immune response," Endsley said. "But if we can complement antibiotic effects and improve the efficiency of antibiotics, that would be of value as well."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. M. Gonzales, C. B. Williams, V. E. Calderon, M. B. Huante, S. T. Moen, V. L. Popov, W. B. Baze, J. W. Peterson, J. J. Endsley. Antibacterial Role for Natural Killer Cells in Host Defense to Bacillus Anthracis. Infection and Immunity, 2011; DOI: 10.1128/IAI.05439-11

Cite This Page:

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Natural killer cells could be key to anthrax defense." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111027125237.htm>.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. (2011, October 31). Natural killer cells could be key to anthrax defense. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111027125237.htm
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Natural killer cells could be key to anthrax defense." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111027125237.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
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