Researchers discover how cells limit inflammation in lung injury

By Jeanne Galatzer-Levy

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have found in an animal model of acute lung injury a molecular mechanism that allows cells of the immune system to reduce tissue damage from inflammation.

The study is reported in Nature Immunology.

Inflammation is part of the normal response to infection. One aspect of inflammation is the production of negatively charged oxygen-rich molecules by specialized called . The molecules, called reactive (ROS), help to break up bacteria, allowing the phagocytes to "mop up" the broken pieces and clear out the infection. Unfortunately, ROS can also cause damage to normal tissue.

The UIC researchers found that a channel through the cell membrane of phagocytes is able to modulate this destructive phase of inflammation.

"Although the channel, called TRPM2, is found in many cell types in the immune system, including phagocytes, it’s function in these cells has been unknown," said Anke Di, UIC research assistant professor in pharmacology and first author of the study.

The researchers were able to show that TRPM2 had a protective anti-inflammatory role in the of ALI, and, further, it played a previously unknown role in protecting against inflammation and tissue injury generally.

TRPM2’s protective effect was a result of its ability to dampen the production of the negatively charged ROS by modulating the electrochemical gradient -- the difference in charge between molecules within the cell and outside the plasma membrane of the cell.

ALI and its more severe form, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) result from pulmonary edema (leaky blood vessels) and inflammation. Both direct lung injury from infection and indirect lung injury from trauma, sepsis, pancreatitis, transfusions, radiation exposure and drug overdose can trigger ALI. It is fatal in almost 40 percent of cases.

Inflammation plays an important role in ALI and a number of other human diseases, said Dr. Asrar Malik, UIC Schweppe Family Distinguished Professor and head of pharmacology and principal investigator of the study. Understanding how inflammatory damage to tissues is controlled normally may help develop therapies in the future, he said.

Related Stories

Key to out-of-control immune response in lung injury found

Aug 16, 2007

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have discovered how a protein modulates the inflammatory response in sudden, life-threatening lung failure. The protein's previously unknown role is ...

Study reveals new form of inflammation

May 16, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- University of Edinburgh scientists have discovered a previously unknown way in which white blood cells cope with injury and infection.

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

7 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

9 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments