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

Heart's own immune cells can help it heal

2 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—The heart holds its own pool of immune cells capable of helping it heal after injury, according to new research in mice at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Making lab-grown tissues stronger

2 hours ago

Lab-grown tissues could one day provide new treatments for injuries and damage to the joints, including articular cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

The 'ultimate' stem cell

3 hours ago

In the earliest moments of a mammal's life, the developing ball of cells formed shortly after fertilisation 'does as mother says' – it follows a course that has been pre-programmed in the egg by the mother. ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.