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New immune cell clue to allergic diseases

Friday August 11th, 2017

A ‘checkpoint’ that guards immune cells playing a key role in allergic diseases has been discovered by a research team in Ireland.

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin say their discovery is a significant breakthrough in understanding how immune cells enable the development of asthma and eczema and could lead to new therapies for such diseases.

Writing in The Journal of Experimental Medicine, the team, led by Professor Padraic Fallon, of the School of Medicine in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, says that if the ‘checkpoint’ is stopped, it halts the development of lung inflammation.

The study examined the type 2 innate lymphoid cell' (ILC2), which instructs Th2 cells to inflame the lungs that leads to the development of asthma.

They used a transgenic mouse model to ascertain that ILC2s express PD-L1, which is a checkpoint molecule that controls the expansion of allergy-inducing Th2 cells and the development of allergic pulmonary and gut tissue inflammation.

Professor Fallon said: “This identification of an early stage cellular checkpoint that can act as a break on allergic responses has important implications for the development of new therapeutic approaches for asthma and other allergic diseases.”

First author Dr Christian Schwartz added: "It is fascinating that a small cell population such as the ILC2s can regulate the expansion of Th2 cells and thereby shape the whole outcome of an immune response - be it beneficial in case of parasitic infections, or detrimental as in the case of allergic responses.

"I believe the more we learn about these delicate cellular networks the more possibilities we will create for intervention."

ILC2s regulate adaptive Th2 cell functions via PD-L1 checkpoint control Journal of Experimental Medicine 26 July 2017 [abstract]

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Europe

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