DEC 10, 2019 3:03 PM PST

T Cell Subset Uniquely Equipped to Target IBD

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

A specialized form of T cell emerges as a new focus for gastrointestinal (GI) health research, specifically in the context of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for children. In a new Canadian study, researchers observe how this T cell subtype is uniquely able to suppress IBD-related inflammation.

The specialized T cells are called Tr1 cells, and they appear to play an important role in repairing the GI tract barrier with chemical signaling. The GI tract is often damaged as a result of IBD pathology, and Tr1 cells support GI health by stimulating the production of protective mucus.

"As a new therapy, Tr1 cells could both suppress the inflammation that is ravaging the lining of the gut and help heal the tissue lining that keeps out harmful bacteria,” explained senior author Megan Levings, PhD.

This is good news for the seven thousand children diagnosed with IBD in Canada alone, with Tr1 cells a potential new therapeutic target to address this condition. Researchers investigated the interaction between Tr1 cells and other body cells with an experimental model of “self-organized, three-dimensional mini-guts.” Researchers observed Tr1 cells supporting the GI health of these mini guts by stimulating protective mucus release and generally promoting local GI environmental health.

IBD is an inflammatory condition of the GI tract that includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. People with IBD often experience chronically recurring episodes. The disease is also associated with an increased risk of colon cancer.

People with IBD experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting that lead to more serious conditions of malnutrition, weight loss, fatigue and – ultimately – poor quality of life. The classic pharmaceutical therapeutic approach relies on antibody-based treatments that suppress inflammation. However, at least one-third of IBD patients either do not respond completely to the treatment or they do not respond at all.

Scientists have yet to understand why IBD develops in the first place with Tr1 cells on the scene, but it could simply be that there are not enough Tr1 cells to prevent the condition from developing. More research studies in the future could expand the understanding of this relationship.

Sources: University of British Columbia, Gastroenterology, Annual Review of Immunology

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 21, 2021
Immunology
1 in 5 Hospitalized COVID Patients Develop Self-Destructive Antibodies
SEP 21, 2021
1 in 5 Hospitalized COVID Patients Develop Self-Destructive Antibodies
One in five hospitalized COVID-19 patients go on to develop autoantibodies—immune molecules that mistakenly target ...
OCT 12, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Preventing future pandemics - Scientists developing broadly protective vaccines against coronaviruses
OCT 12, 2021
Preventing future pandemics - Scientists developing broadly protective vaccines against coronaviruses
Researchers at Japan’s Osaka University recently developed and tested a novel vaccine that may protect a ...
NOV 04, 2021
Immunology
The Coronavirus Infects Inner Ear Cells
NOV 04, 2021
The Coronavirus Infects Inner Ear Cells
An increasing number of COVID-19 patients have reported ear-related issues: ringing in the ear, hearing loss, and balanc ...
NOV 01, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
How SARS-CoV-2 Evades Antiviral Defenses
NOV 01, 2021
How SARS-CoV-2 Evades Antiviral Defenses
Researchers have learned a lot about the SARS-CoV-2 virus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that he viru ...
NOV 11, 2021
Immunology
Malaria Researchers Make a Surprising Antibody Find
NOV 11, 2021
Malaria Researchers Make a Surprising Antibody Find
Researchers looking into the immunology of malaria infections have made an unexpected find that could ultimately lead to ...
NOV 11, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Why Arthritis Tends to Affect the Same Joints Repeatedly
NOV 11, 2021
Why Arthritis Tends to Affect the Same Joints Repeatedly
While arthritis may not cause pain all the time, when it flares, it tends to recur in the same joints. This can create s ...
Loading Comments...