Regulating white blood cells help control excessive inflammation

March 9, 2021
Regulating white blood cells help control excessive inflammation

An international research team, led by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences has discovered a new way to stop excessive inflammation by simply regulating a type of white blood cell that is critical to the immune response. This discovery could allow researchers to develop new targeted treatments that can protect the body from unchecked damage caused by inflammatory diseases.

When immune cells called macrophages (white blood cells) in our body are exposed to potent infectious agents, the subsequent action is to produce powerful inflammatory proteins known as cytokines to fight the infection. Although intermittent increases in inflammation is necessary for survival, if these cytokine levels get out of control, significant tissue damage can occur and lead to sometimes chronic inflammatory complications such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Through extensive study, the researchers have singled out a protein called Arginase-2 that works through the energy source of macrophage cells – mitochondria – to limit inflammation. Specifically, the researchers have shown for the first time that Arginase-2 is critical for decreasing a potent inflammatory cytokine called interleukin-1 (IL-1).

“Excessive inflammation is a prominent feature of many diseases such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases. Through our discovery, we may be able to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory disease and ultimately improve the quality of life for people with these conditions,” commented Dr. Claire McCoy, senior lecturer in Immunology at RCSI.

Read: Gene-deficient bone marrow cells induce cancer tumour regression; slows tumour growth


Category: Education, Features

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