Gene discovery reveals importance of eating your greens
Ms Lucie Rankin (left) and Dr Joanna Groom were part of a team that discovered innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) play a crucial role in controlling food allergies, inflammation, obesity and even bowel cancers.
(Medical Xpress)—Eating your greens may be even more important that previously thought, with the discovery that an immune cell population essential for intestinal health could be controlled by leafy greens in your diet.
The immune cells, named innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), are found in the lining of the digestive system and protect the body from 'bad' bacteria in the intestine. They are also believed to play an important role in controlling food allergies, inflammatory diseases and obesity, and may even prevent the development of bowel cancers.
Dr Gabrielle Belz, Ms Lucie Rankin, Dr Joanna Groom and colleagues from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute's Molecular Immunology division have discovered the gene T-bet is essential for producing a population of these critical immune cells and that the gene responds to signals in the food we eat.
Dr Belz said the research team revealed T-bet was essential for generating a subset of ILCs which is a newly discovered cell type that protects the body against infections entering through the digestive system. "In this study, we discovered that T-bet is the key gene that instructs precursor cells to develop into ILCs, which it does in response to signals in the food we eat and to bacteria in the gut," Dr Belz said. "ILCs are essential for immune surveillance of the digestive system and this is the first time that we have identified a gene responsible for the production of ILCs."
The research was published today in the journal Nature Immunology.
Dr Belz said that the proteins in green leafy (cruciferous) vegetables are known to interact with a cell surface receptor that switches on T-bet, and might play a role in producing these critical immune cells. "Proteins in these leafy greens could be part of the same signalling pathway that is used by T-bet to produce ILCs," Dr Belz said. "We are very interested in looking at how the products of these vegetables are able to talk to T-bet to make ILCs, which will give us more insight into how the food we eat influences our immune system and gut bacteria."
ILCs are essential for maintaining the delicate balance between tolerance, immunity and inflammation. Ms Rankin said the discovery had given the research team further insight into external factors responsible for ILC activation. "Until recently, it has been difficult to isolate or produce ILCs," Ms Rankin said. "So we are very excited about the prospect for future research on these cells which are still poorly understood."
ILCs produce a hormone called interleukin-22 (IL-22), which can protect the body from invading bacteria, Dr Belz said. "Our research shows that, without the gene T-bet, the body is more susceptible to bacterial infections that enter through the digestive system. This suggests that boosting ILCs in the gut may aid in the treatment of these bacterial infections," she said.
ILCs help to maintain a 'healthy' environment in the intestine by promoting good bacteria and healing small wounds and abrasions that are common in the tissues of the gut. They may also have a role in resolving cancerous lesions. "The discovery of these immune cells has thrown open a completely new way of looking at gut biology," Dr Belz said. "We are just starting to understand how important these immune cells are in regulating allergy and inflammation, and the implications for bowel cancer and other gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease," she said.
"Understanding the biology of ILCs and the genes that are essential for generating them will help us to develop methods of targeting these cells," Dr Belz said. "This might include boosting ILCs in situations where they may not be active enough, such as infections or some cancers, or depleting them in situations where they are overactive, such as chronic inflammatory disease," she said.
This project was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Victorian Government.
More information: www.nature.com/ni/… ni.2545.html
Journal reference: Nature Immunology
- Itching for new help for eczema: Recently identified immune cells possible therapeutic target Jan 30, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
- Viral evasion gene reveals new targets for eliminating chronic infections Jan 05, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Study furthers understanding of IBD Oct 12, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Friend or Foe? Scientists Determine How the Intestine Keeps Us Safe From Microbial Invaders Feb 21, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- DNA of good bacteria drives intestinal response to infection Oct 02, 2008 | 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
The Durability of Bone: Long Falls
5 hours ago I am doing a paper on the physics in Valve's Portal and got interested in the "Long Fall Boots" that prevent any damage no matter how far you fall. I...
Is energy convertible to matter?
7 hours ago Can we convert energy to matter?
Rotating electron as a dipole is this right?
9 hours ago An electron as shown by the Stern Gerlach experiment behaves like a dipole (albeit only in one of two states). I have been trying to figure out how...
Dipole term in multipole expansion
13 hours ago Hi. I'm having some difficult in understanding something about the dipole term in a multipole expansion. Griffiths writes the expansion as a sum of...
Bubbles in a Pre-Boiling/Boiling pot of water
14 hours ago How is it that bubbles form on the bottom of a surface of a pot of boiling water? I think that there is probably an elementary answer to this...
Assumptions of Griffith's fracture theory
May 21, 2013 Any experts on Griffith's fracture theory? I am studying the subject and I am having hard time finding out if the theory is valid for all possible...
- More from Physics Forums - Classical Physics
More news stories
(Medical Xpress)—A research team, led by Jeremy Barr, a biology post-doctoral fellow, unveils a new immune system that protects humans and animals from infection.
Immunology May 20, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (22) | 8 |
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at King's College London have discovered that Vitamin D has the potential to significantly reduce the symptoms of asthma. The study, led by Professor Catherine Hawrylowicz from ...
Immunology May 20, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Melbourne researchers have identified an immune protein that has the potential to stop or reverse the development of type 1 diabetes in its early stages, before insulin-producing cells have been destroyed.
Immunology May 20, 2013 | 5 / 5 (5) | 0 |
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
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
16 hours ago | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
14 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (12) | 0 |
Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes.
16 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (7) | 0 |
An experimental sleeping pill from US drug company Merck is effective at helping people fall and stay asleep, according to reviewers at the US Food and Drug Administration, which could soon approve the new drug.
9 hours ago | 4 / 5 (4) | 0
Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May ...
10 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
A drug commonly used to treat depression and anxiety may improve a stress-related heart condition in people with stable coronary heart disease, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |