Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More than skin deep: New layer to the body's fight against infection

Date:
November 18, 2013
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
The layers of skin that form the first line of defense in the body's fight against infection have revealed a unanticipated secret. The single cell type that was thought to be behind the skin's immune defense has been found to have a doppelganger, with researchers showing the cells, despite appearing identical, are actually two different types.

Dr Michael Chopin (left) and Dr Stephen Nutt have revealed that Langerhans cells, the single cell type behind the skin's immune defence, actually has two types. The finding could have repercussions for infections and cancer.
Credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

The layers of skin that form the first line of defense in the body's fight against infection have revealed a unanticipated secret.

The single cell type that was thought to be behind the skin's immune defense has been found to have a doppelganger, with researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute showing the cells, despite appearing identical, are actually two different types.

Institute scientists Dr Michael Chopin, Dr Stephen Nutt and colleagues from the institute's Molecular Immunology division have been investigating Langerhans cells, the immune cells that provide the first line of defense against attacks through the skin.

Until recently, scientists believed that, because they looked identical, all Langerhans cells were also genetically identical and had the same function. However Dr Nutt said the research team, with collaborators from the National Institutes of Health, US, have shown this is not the case.

"Langerhans cells are produced and found in the skin and are quite unique among immune cells because they do not have a definite lifespan, they can last for a lifetime," Dr Nutt said. "They are only replaced when necessary, such as when the skin is damaged by a burn or a cut. When that happens, new Langerhans cells have to be produced by the bone marrow. These cells look the same, so it was always thought that they were genetically the same and their function was the same. We have shown that this isn't the case."

This surprise finding, published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, could have repercussions for developing and refining therapies for skin infections and skin cancers.

Although Langerhans cells were discovered nearly 150 years ago, Dr Chopin said there were still a lot of gaps in our knowledge about how they develop and their role in responding to foreign invaders. Dr Chopin said the research team was initially trying to understand the role of Langerhans cells. "Not everything that makes contact with the skin is harmful, so it is important the immune system doesn't overreact," he said. "We were trying to find out whether Langerhans cells were there to activate an immune response to invaders, or to suppress the immune system to prevent it from overreacting.

"While designing the experiment, we found that the genes that define the Langerhans cells that are produced in the skin were different to those of Langerhans cells that came from bone marrow. In essence we now know that there are two different types of Langerhans cells where we thought there was one. We now need to find out if they behave differently as well."

Dr Nutt said the research could explain why some promising new drugs have not had the desired effect in the clinic. "Some clinical trials of drugs that were designed to help boost Langerhans cells in response to infections have not responded as the researchers expected," Dr Nutt said. "Our finding may help explain why these drugs didn't work outside the laboratory and our current research may provide guidance in developing therapeutics to treat skin infections or skin cancer."


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.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Chopin, C. Seillet, S. Chevrier, L. Wu, H. Wang, H. C. Morse, G. T. Belz, S. L. Nutt. Langerhans cells are generated by two distinct PU.1-dependent transcriptional networks. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1084/jem.20130930

Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "More than skin deep: New layer to the body's fight against infection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118102628.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2013, November 18). More than skin deep: New layer to the body's fight against infection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118102628.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "More than skin deep: New layer to the body's fight against infection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118102628.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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