Scientists discover special class of natural fats stimulates immune cells to fight diseases
An international research team led by scientists from Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) under the Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) discovered that a special class of fatty molecules is essential for activating a unique group of early-responding immune cells. This study sheds light on how recognition of fatty molecules by immune cells could protect from infection, allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases and cancer. More importantly, it offers new opportunities to exploit the use of these stimulatory fatty molecules in therapeutic interventions, such as the development of new vaccines and drugs targetted for autoimmune diseases.
The early-responding immune cells investigated in this study, called the invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, are important as first line of defence against infectious and foreign agents. When stimulated, iNKT cells secrete large amounts of biological chemicals, and are capable of influencing the responses of other immune cells in the body.
It is well established that iNKT cells recognise and are activated by fatty molecules from various sources, including those from diseases-causing bacteria and those that are naturally produced in the thymus. This study identifies for the first time, the actual type of fatty molecules that stimulates the development of iNKT cells in the thymus. This discovery came about through systematic biochemical and structural analysis of fatty molecules extracted from the thymus.
The team, co-led by Professor Gennaro De Libero and Dr Lucia Mori, Senior Principal Investigators at SIgN, found that the fatty molecules produced in the thymus which were able to stimulate iNKT cells all have the chemical linkage called ether bonds.
To validate the stimulatory activity of these special class of self-generated fatty molecules, the scientists artificially manufactured ether-bonded fatty molecules through synthetic chemistry, and found that they were similarly able to activate iNKT cells, promoting their development in the thymus.
In addition, the scientists uncovered that these ether-bonded fats were the same type of fatty molecules which are produced by the peroxisome, a sub-compartment that specialises in fat metabolism, found within all cells of the body. Using a mouse strain that is lacking in the peroxisomal enzyme, and hence unable to make ether-bonded fatty molecules, the scientists found that such mice could not produce the complete repertoire of fully functional iNKT cells.
Dr Mori said, "We are very excited to have identified the type of fatty self-molecules that stimulates T cells. This discovery sets a new paradigm for understanding the rules that govern development and activation of frontline immune cells of the body."
Professor De Libero added, "With fresh insights from this study, we now have new tools to explore novel therapeutic strategies for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases where such fatty molecules are key to disease development."
Scientific Director of SIgN, Professor Paola Castagnoli said, "Our focus and mission at SIgN has always been to study human immunology, in particular the underlying mechanisms of inflammatory responses in human diseases. This discovery is a breakthrough for the field of lipid immunity, a new niche area in immunology that SIgN has recently been developing. I would like to congratulate Gennaro and Lucia for this excellent piece of work that has done SIgN, A*STAR proud at the international scientific level. I am confident that with more in-depth understanding of the role of lipid immunity in human diseases, we will find novel ways to cure many types of immune diseases, from autoimmune to infectious diseases, for the benefit of patients in the future"
Provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
- Healthy bodies help fight disease? Clues to how diet affects the immune system Nov 30, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- Cigarette smoke impairs ability to fight disease Mar 04, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- New cell type offers new hope Jun 14, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Natural killers help fight human disease Nov 28, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Discovery prompts new theory on cause of autoimmune diseases May 03, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
flow of current through zero potential difference
1 hour ago there are two points A and C having a finite potential difference.they are connected by a wire of non zero resistance.a current will flow through the...
Absorption of light by spherical nanoparticle
4 hours ago Hello Can anyone tell me how the absorption of a polystyrene nanoparticles scales as a function of its diameter. The particle is spherical and...
Solvability of a circuit
9 hours ago Let's say I have a circuit consisting only of a finite number of batteries and resistors, all ideal. Given an arbitrary shape of this circuit, will I...
Question about perception of colors around light sources
12 hours ago When I look at a distant light source (like car headlights, or street lamp lights) I notice colors of the visible spectrum (as separated (as in after...
Does a charged particle rotate when traveling through a static Bf?
14 hours ago I have been looking at mass spectrometers, in particular the interactions between the Bf ind of a charged particle in motion in a static Bf of the...
Find a link between physics and assignment problems
15 hours ago Hi ! I've been working about assignments problems and how to solve them. I will have to do a presentation about it in few weeks. However, I'll...
- More from Physics Forums - Classical Physics
More news stories
Raising hopes for cell-based therapies, UC San Francisco researchers have created the first functioning human thymus tissue from embryonic stem cells in the laboratory. The researchers showed that, in mice, ...
Immunology May 16, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (5) | 0 |
Researchers from CNRS, Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier and IRD have elucidated new molecular mechanisms involved in resistance to visceral leishmaniasis, a serious parasitic infection. They have shown that dectin-1 ...
Immunology May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Women's immune systems age more slowly than men's, suggests research in BioMed Central's open access journal Immunity & Ageing. The slower decline in a woman's immune system may contribute to women living longer than men. ...
Immunology May 14, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Newly described type of immune cell and T cells share similar path to maturity, according to new study
(Medical Xpress)—Labs around the world, and a core group at Penn, have been studying recently described populations of immune cells called innate lymphoid cells (ILCs). Some researchers liken them to foot soldiers that ...
Immunology May 14, 2013 | 5 / 5 (3) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Cytokines are molecules produced by immune cells that induce the migration of other cells to sites of infection or injury, promote the production of anti-microbial agents, and signal the production of inflammatory ...
Immunology May 13, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(AP)—Former Navy Secretary Richard J. Danzig, who has served as a bio-warfare adviser to the president, the Pentagon, and the Department of Homeland Security, urged the government to stockpile an anti-anthrax drug while ...
6 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Sunbathers this summer will find new sunscreen labels that are designed to make the products more effective and easier to use.
9 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Optimal treatment of sleep apnea in patients with prediabetes improves blood sugar (glucose) levels and thus can reduce cardiometabolic risk, according to a study to be presented at the ATS 2013 International Conference in ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Whole-cell pertussis vaccines were more effective at protecting against pertussis than acellular pertussis vaccines during a large recent outbreak, according to a new Kaiser Permanente study published in Pediatrics.
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A novel study reports that white men and women of European descent inherit common foot disorders, such as bunions (hallux valgus) and lesser toe deformities, including hammer or claw toe. Findings from the Framingham Foot ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A new measure of the heterogeneity – the variety of genetic mutations – of cells within a tumor appears to predict treatment outcomes of patients with the most common type of head and neck cancer. In the May 20 issue ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0