Discovery improves understanding of early onset inflammatory disease

July 4, 2012

Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have discovered a 'constant cloud' of potent inflammatory molecules surrounding the cells responsible for diseases such as thickening of the arteries and rheumatoid arthritis.

Published online today by The , the findings could eventually lead to new treatments for . Cardiovascular disease arising from atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries) kills around 17 million people worldwide each year, including 120,000 people in England and Wales, while rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 people in the UK.

The UEA team studied a type of white blood cell called monocytes. Monocytes play an important role in the and help protect our bodies against infection. But they can also invade tissue, triggering the early stages of common inflammatory diseases.

The researchers detected for the first time that monocytes were surrounded by a constant cloud. This cloud was found to be made up of potent inflammatory molecules called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Further study showed that the were being propelled through the cell wall by the actions of lysosomes. Lysosomes are sub-cellular compartments within blood cells which had previously been thought to only break down cell waste.

"These unexpected findings shed light on the very early stages in the development of inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis," said lead author Dr Samuel Fountain of UEA's School of Biological Sciences.

"We found that lysosomes are actually highly dynamic and play a key role in the way function. This is an exciting development that we hope will lead to the discovery of new targets for inflammatory drugs in around five years and potential new treatments beyond that."

Dr Fountain said further study was now needed to investigate how to control the release of ATP by lysosomes in monocytes and other , and to understand how inflammation may be affected in patients with inherited diseases involving lysosomes.

Dr Fountain is a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) David Phillips Fellow and recently received £0.9m from the BBSRC to study how cells use ATP as a signalling molecule.

Explore further: Healthy bodies help fight disease? Clues to how diet affects the immune system

More information: 'Constitutive lysosome exocytosis releases ATP and engages P2Y receptors in human monocytes' by V Sivaramakrishnan (UEA), S Bidula (UEA), H Campwala (UEA), D Katikaneni (UEA) and S Fountain (UEA) is published online on July 5 by the Journal of Cell Science. The paper will be available here: jcs.biologists.org/content/early/recent

Related Stories

Researchers discover internal compass of immune cell

December 14, 2006

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have discovered how neutrophils – specialized white blood cells that play key roles in inflammation and in the body's immune defense against ...

Blood clotting protein linked to rheumatoid arthritis

November 16, 2007

Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s have issued the first study showing that a protein normally involved in blood clotting (fibrin), also plays an important role in the inflammatory response and development of rheumatoid ...

Research identifies how inflammatory disease causes fatigue

February 17, 2009

New animal research in the February 18 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience may indicate how certain diseases make people feel so tired and listless. Although the brain is usually isolated from the immune system, the study ...

Novel technique uses RNA interference to block inflammation

October 9, 2011

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers – along with collaborators from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals – have found a way to block, in an animal model, the damaging ...

Recommended for you

Stop the rogue ADAM gene and you stop asthma

July 21, 2016

Scientists at the University of Southampton have discovered a potential and novel way of preventing asthma at the origin of the disease, a finding that could challenge the current understanding of the condition.

Scientists reveal cellular clockwork underlying inflammation

August 27, 2015

Researchers at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech have uncovered key cellular functions that help regulate inflammation—a discovery that could have important implications for the treatment of allergies, ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nanotech_republika_pl
not rated yet Jul 05, 2012
"Further study showed that the ATP molecules were being propelled through the cell wall by the actions of lysosomes. "

What does that mean? As the monocytes enter the blood vessel wall, the monocyte (macrophage) lysosomes have a mechanism to direct the ATP molecules to go through the monocyte cell membrane to enter the extracelullar matrix of the plaque?

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.