Newly discovered ‘danger signs’ could speed vaccine development and allergy treatment

A study of how injured mouse cells trigger immune responses suggests new strategies to prevent and treat everything from parasites to allergies in humans.

The researchers hypothesized that intestinal cells damaged by parasitic worms invoke the immune system by releasing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is metabolized into the adenosine nucleotide. In turn, adenosine binds to specific receptors on the surface of intestinal epithelial cells to trigger an immune response.

Members of the research team – who come mainly from Rutgers and Columbia, but also include researchers from Harvard, the University of Texas-Houston and the University of Ferrara – tested their theory by injecting the worms into mice, which have adenosine receptors. was lacking. epithelial cells. Unlike regular mice, which develop a strong immune response to these parasites, specially engineered mice develop a markedly reduced immune response.

According to the study, parasitic worms known as worms infect around 1.5 billion people. A vaccine is not available, but the discovery of how the body naturally defends itself against helminths paves the way for development.

Lead author William Gouge, director of the Rutgers Institute for Infectious Diseases, said: “If you combine a protein unique to helminths with an agonist that can trigger the adenosine receptor, you might be able to make a vaccine.” This will sensitize the immune system. and Inflammatory Diseases (i3D), which is at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. When the actual infection occurred, the memory immune response was faster and stronger.

“On the other hand, this finding suggests that it may be possible to treat allergies, which are essentially unwanted immune responses, with drugs that block adenosine receptors and reduce the immune response and harmful inflammation. partner,” Gougé said.

So-called danger signals emitted by injured cells are one of the two main ways the immune system learns about attackers. These signals are less understood than other immune system triggers, molecules released by pathogens that are recognized by specific receptors on immune cells.

Gauge said the release of ATP could turn out to be a common and important danger signal for injured cells. Every cell in the body contains ATP which can be released when injured.

The researchers are planning a follow-up study that will explore whether lung cells use the same signal to alert the immune system to invaders.

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material provided by Rutgers UniversityOriginal written by Andrew Smith. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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