Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Immune cell death defects linked to autoimmune diseases

Date:
January 23, 2013
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that the death of immune system cells is an important safeguard against the development of diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which occur when the immune system attacks the body's own tissues.

Dr. Kylie Mason (left), Dr. Lorraine O'Reilly and colleagues have discovered how a protein defect in immune cells can trigger autoimmune disease.
Credit: The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia

Melbourne researchers have discovered that the death of immune system cells is an important safeguard against the development of diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which occur when the immune system attacks the body's own tissues.

Related Articles


The finding suggests that these so-called autoimmune diseases could be treated with existing medications that force long-lived immune system cells to die.

In the development of the immune system, some cells are produced that have the potential to attack the body's own tissues, causing autoimmune disease. The death of these 'self-reactive' immune cells through a process called apoptosis is an important safeguard against autoimmune disease.

But Dr Kylie Mason, Dr Lorraine O'Reilly, Dr Daniel Gray, Professor Andreas Strasser and Professor David Huang from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and Professor Paul Waring from the University of Melbourne have discovered that when immune cells lack two related proteins, called Bax and Bak, the cells can attack many healthy tissues, causing severe autoimmune disease. The research is published online January 22 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bax and Bak are members of the 'Bcl-2 protein family', a large group of proteins that control cell death. Dr O'Reilly said it was thought that Bax and Bak acted like an irreversible switch in cells, determining when cells die by apoptosis. In healthy cells, Bax and Bak are in an 'inactive' form, but when cells are under stress or receive external signals instructing them to die, Bax and Bak switch into an 'active' form that starts the destruction of the cell by apoptosis. Without Bax and Bak, cells are highly protected against apoptosis.

Dr O'Reilly said that some immune cells that lacked the proteins Bax and Bak were able to attack healthy tissues in many organs of the body. "Normally, these 'self-reactive' immune cells are deleted during development," she said. "In the absence of Bax and Bak, enough self-reactive cells survive development to persist in the body and cause autoimmune disease in organs such as the kidneys (glomerulonephritis), similar to what is seen in the most severe form of lupus.

"Our findings confirm that defective apoptosis of immune cells can cause autoimmune disease, and that Bax and Bak are important determinants of immune cell death. We were also interested to see that, in our model, loss of Bak on its own was sufficient to cause autoimmune disease, albeit to a lesser extent than losing both Bak and Bax. This supports a recent discovery that humans with mutations in the BAK gene are predisposed to certain autoimmune diseases."

The research provides hope for people with autoimmune diseases as Bax and Bak activity can be triggered by a new class of potential anti-cancer agents, called BH3-mimetics, which are currently in clinical trials for certain types of leukemia in Melbourne, Dr O'Reilly said. "Our findings suggest that BH3-mimetics might be an exciting new option for treatment for autoimmune conditions, by activating Bax and Bak and making the self-reactive immune cells which are causing the autoimmune disease to die," she said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Immune cell death defects linked to autoimmune diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123101620.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2013, January 23). Immune cell death defects linked to autoimmune diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123101620.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Immune cell death defects linked to autoimmune diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130123101620.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) 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