In managing inflammation, controlling white blood cell flow may be key

by Eric Gershon
In managing inflammation, controlling white blood cell flow may be key
Credit: Shutterstock

(Medical Xpress)—New research by Yale University scientists sets the stage for improved management of acute tissue inflammation related to wounds and chronic inflammatory diseases by advancing current understanding of inflammatory processes.

To exit blood vessels and reach injured tissue, must pass through a series of natural barriers. Some aspects of blood vessel architecture facilitate white cell migration to a greater degree than others, a means of self-regulation: Excessive migration can result in extreme inflammation, turning otherwise helpful white cells into agents of disease.

Research by Yale bioengineers reported March 26 in the journal PLOS ONE sheds new light on the roles of specific layers of vasculature, suggesting ways of controlling inflammation.

"By understanding the regulatory mechanisms within the vascular wall, we hope we can identify potential treatments to ensure or restore the balance between protection and destruction of tissues," said Anjelica L. Gonzalez, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Yale and principal investigator of the research.

The work focuses in particular on the function of a less permeable (and little studied, researchers said) layer of cells within the blood vessel wall known as the pericyte layer.

Using a composite microvascular model that incorporates both the inner and outer layers of blood vessels, Gonzalez and colleagues showed that the outer pericyte layer helps restrict the number of exiting white blood cells. This helps prevent excessive inflammation, they said. In contrast, the inner (endothelial) layer primes white blood cells for passage through the pericyte layer by transforming them into a more versatile cell subpopulation. A malfunctioning pericyte layer could be responsible for excessive inflammation, they said.

"The results suggest that any disease or disorder that can be termed inflammatory—including wound healing, and —may be exacerbated because of a poor pericyte barrier," said Gonzalez. "White blood cell-mediated inflammation, in particular, is related to the progression of many inflammatory disorders. These findings give us targets on the white blood cell that will allow us to develop therapeutics aimed at inhibiting their contribution to disease progression."

Related Stories

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.

Images shed new light on inflammation (w/ Video)

Oct 15, 2010

Researchers at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine are using an innovative new imaging technique to study how white blood cells (called neutrophils) respond to inflammation, and have revealed new targets to inhibit ...

Recommended for you

Ontario has one of the highest rates of IBD in the world

Aug 28, 2014

One in every 200 Ontarians has been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), with the number of people living with the disease increasing by 64 per cent between 1999 and 2008, according to a study by researchers at ...

New drug promises relief for inflammatory pain

Aug 27, 2014

Pain from inflammation sidelines thousands of Americans each year. Many face a tough choice: deal with the pain, take a potentially addictive opioid or use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that may increase risk for ...

Overweight causes hazardous inflammations

Aug 25, 2014

Researchers have found a possible molecular explanation for why overweight is harmful. This new knowledge may provide new drugs for heart attack, stroke, cancer and chronic intestinal inflammation.

Asthma outcomes worse in older women

Aug 21, 2014

(HealthDay)—Older women face increased challenges in managing their asthma, according to a review published in the August issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

User comments