Research sheds light on important role of autophagy, or self-eating cells, in developing new anti-inflammatory therapies

October 24, 2012

Research just carried out in the Immunology Research Centre, led by Dr James Harris, based in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College Dublin, shows that the process of autophagy  regulates the production of inflammatory molecules and may therefore represent an effective target for the development of new anti-inflammatory therapeutics. The findings have been recently published online in the Journal of Immunology.

Inflammation is a key component of immune responses to infection, but when uncontrolled can lead to autoimmune diseases like Crohn's disease, , , ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis. In these diseases inflammation is mediated by molecules of the immune system called cytokines and cells that respond to these cytokines called

is an ubiquitous process whereby cells degrade their own internal components, either to release valuable nutrients in times of starvation, or to remove damaged or noxious intracellular components. The work by Dr Harris and colleagues showed that autophagy also control release of the and cells that have been implicated in the pathology of autoimmune diseases. The findings suggest that autophagy represents a potent target for new anti-inflammatory therapies, which could be beneficial in a range of autoimmune disorders. 

The group, in combination with Professor Kingston Mills, now hopes to apply these findings to specific models of autoimmune disease. The work is funded by Science Foundation Ireland as part of a Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) award based in The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute.

"Autophagy is a common cellular process that is important for the maintenance of normal cell functions. Our work has shown that this process is important in the control of inflammation and, as such, could represent a particularly efficacious target for new drugs against inflammatory conditions. There are over 80 different , most of which are chronic and debilitating and can be difficult and expensive to treat. Any research which helps us to better understand the underlying mechanisms behind the control of inflammation will ultimately lead to better treatments," explained Dr James Harris.

Explore further: Study discovers new targets for treating inflammatory, autoimmune diseases

More information: Peral de Castro, C., Jones, S.A., Ni Cheallaigh, C., Hearnden, C.A., Williams, L., Winter, J., Lavelle, E.C., Mills, K.H.G. & Harris, J. (2012). Autophagy regulates IL-23 and innate T cells responses through effects on IL-1 secretion. Journal of Immunology 189(8), Oct . 15. www.jimmunol.org/content/189/8/4144.long

Related Stories

Study discovers new targets for treating inflammatory, autoimmune diseases

October 7, 2011
Researchers have discovered a cellular pathway that promotes inflammation in diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis. Understanding the details of this pathway ...

T cells making brain chemicals may lead to better treatments for inflammation, autoimmune diseases

September 16, 2011
Scientists have identified a surprising new role for a new type of T cell in the immune system: some of them can be activated by nerves to make a neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) that blocks inflammation. The discovery of ...

A vaccine for heart disease? New discovery points up this possibility

August 14, 2012
Most people probably know that heart disease remains the nation's No. 1 killer. But what many may be surprised to learn is that cholesterol has a major accomplice in causing dangerous arterial plaque buildup that can trigger ...

Recommended for you

Bone marrow concentrate improves joint transplants

September 25, 2017
Biologic joint restoration using donor tissue instead of traditional metal and plastic may be an option for active patients with joint defects. Although recovery from a biologic joint repair is typically longer than traditional ...

How ketogenic diets curb inflammation

September 25, 2017
Ketogenic diets – extreme low-carbohydrate, high-fat regimens that have long been known to benefit epilepsy and other neurological illnesses – may work by lowering inflammation in the brain, according to new research ...

Researchers develop treatment to reduce rate of cleft palate relapse complication

September 22, 2017
Young people with cleft palate may one day face fewer painful surgeries and spend less time undergoing uncomfortable orthodontic treatments thanks to a new therapy developed by researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry. ...

Exosomes are the missing link to insulin resistance in diabetes

September 21, 2017
Chronic tissue inflammation resulting from obesity is an underlying cause of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. But the mechanism by which this occurs has remained cloaked, until now.

Thousands of new microbial communities identified in human body

September 20, 2017
A new study of the human microbiome—the trillions of microbial organisms that live on and within our bodies—has analyzed thousands of new measurements of microbial communities from the gut, skin, mouth, and vaginal microbiome, ...

Study finds immune system is critical to regeneration

September 20, 2017
The answer to regenerative medicine's most compelling question—why some organisms can regenerate major body parts such as hearts and limbs while others, such as humans, cannot—may lie with the body's innate immune system, ...

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.