Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Braking system for immune responses

Date:
March 20, 2014
Source:
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Summary:
The surface of immune system cells is home to a number of receptors which are able to detect pathogens. As soon as these receptors are activated, inflammation occurs and the body's defense mechanisms kick in. A receptor on human cells that specifically recognizes crystals has been identified by researchers for the first time. It is found on immune cells and binds uric acid crystals, which trigger gout but also control immune responses.

Picture of uric acid crystals: Uric acid forms needle-like crystals which activate the immune system.
Credit: K. Neumann/TUM

For the first time, researchers have identified a receptor on human cells that specifically recognizes crystals. It is found on immune cells and binds uric acid crystals, which trigger gout but also control immune responses. The team, led by researchers from Technische Universität München (TUM)'s Klinikum rechts der Isar hospital have published their findings in the Immunity journal.

The surface of immune system cells is home to a number of receptors which are able to detect pathogens. As soon as these receptors are activated, inflammation occurs and the body's defense mechanisms kick in. Immune cells also have receptors that regulate or even suppress immunological responses to prevent damage to individual cells.

There are other immune receptors that recognize endogenous substances that are released when tissue damage or cell death occurs. As such, the organism can defend itself even in cases where the damage caused by the pathogen, but not the pathogen itself, is detected.

With the discovery of the surface molecule Clec12a from the family of C-type lectin receptors, the team led by Prof. Jürgen Ruland of Klinikum rechts der Isar have found the first known immune receptor for uric acid crystals. Uric acid is a break-down product of nucleic acids like DNA in response to cell damage. Whenever a large number of cells die, for example when a tumor is being medically treated or during an infection, the uric acid becomes more concentrated and the molecules crystallize.

Immune responses have to be regulated

Uric acid crystals also form when tissue is damaged and they boost the immune response. However, Clec12a limits the immune response instead of increasing it. "Clec12a suppresses the response to dead cells and uric acid crystals," explains Prof. Ruland. "The immune system has evidently developed a mechanism to prevent an overreaction to the crystals."

Immune cells are capable of producing highly toxic substances which can damage healthy tissue as well as pathogens. "Uric acid crystals and other substances originating from damaged cells signal a potential danger to the immune system," says Dr. Konstantin Neumann, lead author of the study. "As long as no further indications of a genuine infection are found, Clec12a's role is to protect the organism from damage triggered by the immune system."

By discovering the immune receptor for uric acid crystals, the researchers have gained an understanding of the fundamental mechanism by which the immune system recognizes crystals. They intend to find out whether there are other receptors like Clec12a that are also capable of sensing crystalline structures. "In the future, we might discover better ways to regulate inflammation with crystal formation, or even use these mechanisms to manipulate the immune system in a targeted way to treat tumors or infectious diseases," concludes Ruland.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Konstantin Neumann, Mercedes Castiñeiras-Vilariño, Ulrike Höckendorf, Nicole Hannesschläger, Simone Lemeer, Danny Kupka, Svenia Meyermann, Maciej Lech, Hans-Joachim Anders, Bernhard Kuster, Dirk H. Busch, Andreas Gewies, Ronald Naumann, Olaf Groß, Jürgen Ruland. Clec12a Is an Inhibitory Receptor for Uric Acid Crystals that Regulates Inflammation in Response to Cell Death. Immunity, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2013.12.015

Cite This Page:

Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Braking system for immune responses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320131439.htm>.
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. (2014, March 20). Braking system for immune responses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320131439.htm
Technische Universitaet Muenchen. "Braking system for immune responses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140320131439.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — CDC director Tom Frieden says the Ebola outbreak is even worse than he feared. But he also said there's still hope to contain it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japan's Golden Generation Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

Japan's Golden Generation Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

AFP (Aug. 27, 2014) — For many people in the autumn of their lives, walking up stairs is the biggest physical challenge they face. But in Japan, race tracks, hammer or pole vault await competitors at the Kyoto Masters, some of them more than 100 years old. Duration: 02:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) — Cardiac experts are testing a new experimental device designed to eliminate major surgery and still keep the heart on track. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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