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.

Related Articles


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 December 17, 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 December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) — A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) 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