17 August 2012
Scientists have discovered immune cells that help to protect against multiple sclerosis, and have said their findings could help to create a new treatment for the condition.
The research, which was published in the journal Immunity, explained that the results changed their basic understanding of the origins of multiple sclerosis.
In an animal model of MS, immune cells called T cells trigger the disease when they are activated by other immune cells known as antigen-presenting cells (APCs).
It is known that dendritic cells are APCs capable of activating T cells, but it was not known whether dendritic cells are the APCs that induce EAE.
In the study, the scientists depleted the dendritic cells in mice using genetic methods and found that, surprisingly, the animals were still susceptible to EAE, and manifested worse autoimmune responses and disease clinical scores.
This suggests that dendritic cells are not needed to induce EAE and other APCs stimulate the T cells to set off the disease.
Furthermore, dendritic cells were also seen to lessen the responsiveness of T cells and lower susceptibility to EAE through the increase of the expression of PD-1 receptors on T cells.
Senior author Ari Waisman, from the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, commented: "By transfusing dendritic cells into the blood, it may be possible to reduce autoimmunity.
"Beyond multiple sclerosis, I can easily imagine that this approach could be applied to other autoimmune diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis."
Posted by Philip Briggs
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