Researchers find piece in inflammatory disease puzzle

May 23, 2017, Monash University
Professor Martin Stone and the research team. Credit: Monash University

Inflammation is the process by which the body responds to injury or infection but when this process becomes out of control it can cause disease. Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers, in collaboration with the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS), have shed light on a key aspect of the process. Their findings may help guide the development of new treatments of inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack or stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Published today in the journal Science Signaling, the research reveals how certain proteins cause the white blood that play a central role in to behave in different ways. White blood cells are beneficial in helping to eliminate invading microorganisms or repair damaged tissue, but they can prolong the and damage healthy tissues, leading to disease.

The proteins, called chemokines, are secreted into blood vessels and activate chemokine receptors embedded in the outer membranes of the white blood cells. While it was previously thought that this occurred like an on-off switch, the scientists found that the chemokine receptor can behave more like a 'dimmer switch' with one giving a strong signal and another giving a weaker signal. They found that different responses can be caused by different chemokines activating the same receptor.

This explained for the first time the mechanism by which produced varying responses: a strong short-lived response (acute inflammation) or a steady, longer-lived response (chronic inflammation).

"Until now, we did not understand how this was possible," said co-lead author Associate Professor Martin Stone.

"Our work has identified the specific features of chemokines and receptors that are involved in their inflammatory activity," Associate Professor Stone said.

"The ultimate goal is to develop anti-inflammatory drugs that target these molecules," he said.

The findings, which Associate Professor Stone presented at an international conference on cell signalling last week, will have wide implications as the proteins involved are essential to all .

Associate Professor Stone, who heads a laboratory in the Infection and Immunity Program at the Monash BDI collaborated closely with co-lead author Dr Meritxell Canals from MIPS. First author was PhD student Mrs Zil E. Huma.

Explore further: Inhibitory signal pathways identified

More information: Key determinants of selective binding and activation by the monocyte chemoattractant proteins at the chemokine receptor CCR2, Science Signaling (2017). DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aai8529

Related Stories

Inhibitory signal pathways identified

May 8, 2017
LMU researchers led by Christian Weber show that the chemokine receptor CXCR4 protects the integrity of arterial walls, and define a new mechanism that restricts the deleterious accumulation of cholesterol in atherosclerotic ...

Tailored intervention in acute and chronic inflammation

April 6, 2017
Signal molecules called chemokines often work in tandem to recruit specific sets of immune cells to sites of tissue damage. A systematic analysis of their interactions by researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) ...

Novel role for spleen B cells in inflammatory response to bacterial toxins

May 9, 2016
The inability to adequately respond to infection can cause a whole-body state of inflammation known as sepsis. This can eventually lead to systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and even death. White blood cells ...

Researchers discover reason for permanent vision loss after head injury

February 8, 2017
Research from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston has shed new light on what causes the permanent vision loss sometimes seen in the wake of a head injury. The findings are detained in The American Journal ...

Latest research offers hope for patients with inflammatory diseases

January 19, 2017
University of Queensland researchers have discovered a molecular trigger for inflammation that could lead to new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and neurodegenerative diseases.

Recommended for you

Research team diagnoses asthma with nasal brush test

June 11, 2018
Mount Sinai researchers have identified a genetic biomarker of asthma that can be tested for using a simple nasal brush and basic follow-up data analysis. This inexpensive diagnostic test can accurately identify mild to moderate ...

Eosinophilic esophagitis may be due to missing protein

June 7, 2018
Scientists have discovered that the absence of a specific protein in cells lining the esophagus may cause inflammation and tissue damage in people with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE). EoE affects as many as 150,000 people ...

Mouse study links triclosan, a common antimicrobial, to colonic inflammation

May 30, 2018
A large research team led by senior author Guodong Zhang at the University of Massachusetts Amherst reports that the antimicrobial ingredient triclosan, found in hand soaps and toothpastes among other products, could have ...

Body knows best: A natural healing mechanism for inflammatory bowel disease

May 30, 2018
Treating inflammatory diseases of the bowel is extremely challenging: Genes, gut microbes and disrupted immune function all contribute. Weizmann Institute of Science researchers are proposing a way around this complexity. ...

Chance discovery links inflammatory bowel disease with common bacterial gut toxin

May 17, 2018
New research has uncovered a surprise link between a common bacterial toxin found in the gut and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

New cytokine network can repair tissue damage in the intestine, study finds

May 16, 2018
A new group of proteins called cytokines, critical for antimicrobial activity and repairing the damaged intestinal tissue found in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), has been discovered by researchers in a study led by Georgia ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BubbaNicholson
1 / 5 (1) May 24, 2017
Chemoreceptive proteins sequester ions, releasing them on contact with allomones of invading organisms or hormones/pheromones released by the brain in response to social conditions (crowding, status, fertility, etc.).

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.