Breakthrough in the study of Autoimmune Disease

June 3, 2011

Diseases of the immune system such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis could be treated by a gas produced naturally by the body, scientists at the University have found.

Autoimmune disease occurs when a person’s immune system attacks his own body. It is a major global health problem and it is vital that better treatment is found. Often these diseases are made worse by environmental pollutants, like car exhaust fumes and factory emissions, which contain chemicals such as Dioxin.

Nitric Oxide (NO), a gas which is produced in the body, is vital to a range of body functions including maintaining healthy blood pressure, neurotransmission and fighting infection.

It is now been found that Nitric Oxide could also be used as a new treatment of autoimmune disease. 

Studies carried out in the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, show that Nitric Oxide can stop the development and function of a type of white blood cell, known as TH17 which can attack the body tissue through excessive inflammation.

The study has been published in the PNAS journal.

Dr. Wanda Niedbala, who led an international team of scientists from Glasgow, Brazil and Japan, explained: “Nitric Oxide inhibits a molecule called AHR (Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor) in TH17 cells and inactivates these cells.

“Since AHR is a receptor for a range of environmental pollutants including Dioxin, this finding demonstrates that Nitric Oxide is a natural suppressor of autoimmune disease caused or exacerbated by environmental pollutants.”

“This finding could also have important clinical implications. Nitric Oxide donors which are used widely in clinical practice may also be used potentially to treat some of the caused by environmental pollutants,” added Professor Eddy Liew, co-author and director of the study.

More information: doi: 10.1073/pnas.1100667108

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Team finds link between backup immune defense, mutation seen in Crohn's disease

July 27, 2017
Genes that regulate a cellular recycling system called autophagy are commonly mutated in Crohn's disease patients, though the link between biological housekeeping and inflammatory bowel disease remained a mystery. Now, researchers ...

Study finds harmful protein on acid triggers a life-threatening disease

July 27, 2017
Using an array of modern biochemical and structural biology techniques, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have begun to unravel the mystery of how acidity influences a small protein called serum ...

CRISPR sheds light on rare pediatric bone marrow failure syndrome

July 27, 2017
Using the gene editing technology CRISPR, scientists have shed light on a rare, sometimes fatal syndrome that causes children to gradually lose the ability to manufacture vital blood cells.

Brain cells found to control aging

July 26, 2017
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found that stem cells in the brain's hypothalamus govern how fast aging occurs in the body. The finding, made in mice, could lead to new strategies for warding off age-related ...

Post-stroke patients reach terra firma with new exosuit technology

July 26, 2017
Upright walking on two legs is a defining trait in humans, enabling them to move very efficiently throughout their environment. This can all change in the blink of an eye when a stroke occurs. In about 80% of patients post-stroke, ...

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

0 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.