Danish scientists detect new immune alert signal

June 22, 2012, Aarhus University

Researchers from Aarhus University have now located the place in the human body where the earliest virus alert signal triggers the human immune system. They have also discovered a new alarm signal, which is activated at the very first sign of a virus attack.

The groundbreaking finding has just been published in the highly esteemed scientific journal .

"It may turn out that patients suffering from frequent infections actually have problems with activating the mechanism that we have now detected," says Søren Riis Paludan, professor of immunology and virology at Aarhus University, who has completed the study together with Christian Holm, postdoc at Aarhus University.

Cell membrane triggers the alarm

Recent research indicates that our immune system is alerted about a threatening virus infection when genomic material from the virus enters the cell. Researchers from Aarhus University have revealed a process which is triggered already before the foreign genomic material enters the cell, i.e. in the membrane surrounding the cell.

"We have detected a new immune , which helps the cells realize that they may soon get infected with virus," says Søren Riis Paludan.

Without this knowledge, the body cannot start fighting , which then may spread freely and possibly result in e.g. AIDS, hepatitis, influenza and cold sore.

Alarm signals in two directions

"The cellular membranes are in this situation comparable to a borderline territory in looming war – and this is the place to put an outpost," says Christian Holm.

The 'outpost' will send alarm signals in two directions when danger is detected. One signal (outbound) will prepare the body for a possible attack, whereas the other signal (inbound) will make the cell investigate the threat.

"In the present study, we have revealed that this happens – and what this process means. In future studies, we will investigate how this happens", the researchers say.

They add that this new knowledge could also lead to development of more efficient vaccines.

Explore further: Study could help improve gene therapy for heart disease, cancer

More information: "Virus-cell fusion as a trigger of innate immunity dependent on the adaptor STING" Nature Immunology.

Related Stories

Study could help improve gene therapy for heart disease, cancer

October 12, 2011
A Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study could lead to improved gene therapies for conditions such as heart disease and cancer as well as more effective vaccines for tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases.

Danger signal limits Hepatitis C infection

September 19, 2011
Despite the fact that hepatitis C virus (HCV) persists chronically in about 80 percent of those infected, some liver cells remain free of the virus even after many years. Now Sung Key Jang of Pohang University of Science ...

Recommended for you

Novel genomic tools provide new insight into human immune system

January 19, 2018
When the body is under attack from pathogens, the immune system marshals a diverse collection of immune cells to work together in a tightly orchestrated process and defend the host against the intruders. For many decades, ...

Genomics reveals key macrophages' involvement in systemic sclerosis

January 18, 2018
A new international study has made an important discovery about the key role of macrophages, a type of immune cell, in systemic sclerosis (SSc), a chronic autoimmune disease which currently has no cure.

First vaccine developed against grass pollen allergy

January 18, 2018
Around 400 million people worldwide suffer in some form or other from a grass pollen allergy (rhinitis), with the usual symptoms of runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. In collaboration with the Viennese firm ...

Researchers discover key driver of atopic dermatitis

January 17, 2018
Severe eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is driven by an allergic reaction. In their latest study, researchers at La Jolla Institute reveal an important player that promotes ...

Who might benefit from immunotherapy? New study suggests possible marker

January 16, 2018
While immunotherapy has made a big impact on cancer treatment, the fact remains that only about a quarter of patients respond to these treatments.

Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system

January 16, 2018
system, which enables these deadly skin cancers to grow and spread.

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.