Hibernating control cells or why inflammations become chronic

August 10, 2017, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common autoimmune disease of the joints. It causes a chronic inflammatory response, with the body's own immune cells attacking the joint, including the cartilage and bone. This process does not cease spontaneously. An international research team headed by the rheumatologist Dr Andreas Ramming at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has now managed to identify an immune system cell type that can be used in a targeted attempt to control the inflammatory response in arthritis patients. The results obtained by the research team at Department of Medicine 3 - Rheumatology and Immunology of Universitätsklinikum Erlangen - have been published in Nature Medicine.

In Germany some 800,000 people, preliminarily women, suffer from . This causes persistent inflammation that damages the joints and bones. Patients suffer pain and experience restrictions in terms of their mobility. "A particularly worrying aspect for those affected is the fact that the in joints is exceptionally chronic and thus usually requires lifelong treatment," explains Prof. Georg Schett, director of the Department of Medicine 3.

Cells known as usually manage the resolution of inflammations.

However, to date, little has been known about how inflammations clear up and why this process does not work in those suffering from rheumatism. Now a joint project involving researchers in London, Barcelona, Zurich, Indianapolis and Dublin has now enabled the researchers in Erlangen to solve this mystery. According to Simon Rauber, an immunologist in Erlangen and primary author of the study, a previously inadequately studied cell population of the immune system called innate lymphoid cells plays a major role in the resolution of inflammations.

It seems that innate lymphoid cells go into a kind of 'hibernation' in patients with rheumatism.

"In patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, these innate lymphoid cells are in a state of what can be described as hibernation and as a result the inflammation persists. When innate lymphoid cells are 'woken up', this puts a stop to the inflammation and to the damage to the joint," adds principal investigator Dr Ramming. The discovery of this important mechanism could provide the opportunity to develop completely new options for treating .

New forms of treatment monitoring

Even at this stage, measuring the number of innate lymphoid cells in the blood makes it possible to provide a prognosis of the effects of treatment. If there are few innate lymphoid cells in the blood, the disease will flare up and the joint will be further damaged. However, resolution of inflammation is associated with an elevation in the number of these cells. The measurement of blood levels makes it possible to initiate individual, more targeted treatment at an early stage, thus preventing another flare-up of the disease. "These findings will make it possible to significantly improve the quality of treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in future with the help of innate lymphoid cells," says Dr Ramming.

Together against inflammation

"Collaborative Research Centre 1181 at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen and the priority programme 'Innate Lymphoid Cells' (SPP 1937) of the German Research Foundation (DFG) have made a decisive contribution to revealing this central immunological mechanism involved in the resolution of inflammations," concludes Prof. Schett. The results of this study have been published in the journal Nature Medicine in an article entitled 'Resolution of by interleukin-9-producing type 2 innate lymphoid '.

Explore further: Innate lymphoid cells elicit T cell responses

More information: Simon Rauber et al, Resolution of inflammation by interleukin-9-producing type 2 innate lymphoid cells, Nature Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nm.4373

Related Stories

Innate lymphoid cells elicit T cell responses

August 18, 2014
In case of an inflammation the body releases substances that increase the immune defense. During chronic inflammation, this immune response gets out of control and can induce organ damage.

How the body stops the type 2 innate immune response from triggering allergic disease

November 23, 2015
The innate immune response, which is the body's non-specific response to pathogens, was once believed to be a simple system relying on short-lived effector cells alone, but it is now known to be more complex, involving long-lived ...

Scientists discover new mechanism that leads to inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis

March 2, 2017
New research findings published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, suggest that synovial CD4+ T cells that produce IL-21 contribute to joint inflammation by activating synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis patients. ...

New clues found to immune system's misfiring in autoimmune diseases

June 2, 2016
A person's genetic makeup plays a role in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis that develop when the body is attacked by its own immune system. But little is known about how immune cells are pushed into overdrive.

Rebooting the system: Immune cells repair damaged lung tissues after flu infection

October 3, 2011
There's more than one way to mop up after a flu infection. Now, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania report in Nature Immunology that a previously unrecognized population of lung ...

Scientists discover molecule that does double duty in stopping asthma attacks

February 27, 2013
Scientists from Brigham and Women's Hospital are on the brink of the next treatment advancement that may spell relief for the nearly nineteen million adults and seven million children in the United States suffering from asthma. ...

Recommended for you

Nicotine mimics may have therapeutic effect on inflammatory diseases

July 12, 2018
Stanford researchers discovered that a receptor that binds to nicotine and to clusters of beta-amyloid molecules is found on certain types of immune cells that can act as suppressors and regulators of the immune system.

Study shows BPA risk factor for inflammatory bowel disease

July 5, 2018
A recent study in a preclinical model of inflammatory bowel disease shows dietary exposure to bisphenol-A, or BPA, found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, can increase mortality and worsen its symptoms.

Mid- to late-life increases in marker of chronic inflammation tied to dementia

July 2, 2018
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have added to evidence that rising and chronic inflammation as measured by a biomarker in the blood in middle and late age are linked to visible structural changes in the brains of people with ...

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 ...

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.