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
MAY 07, 2020
Immunology
New COVID-19 Vaccine Defends Monkeys Against Infection
MAY 07, 2020
New COVID-19 Vaccine Defends Monkeys Against Infection
Researchers from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech have reported preliminary results of a study into the development of a va ...
JUN 04, 2020
Immunology
Tissue Stiffness Regulates Immune Responses
JUN 04, 2020
Tissue Stiffness Regulates Immune Responses
  Cells are remarkably sensitive to the mechanical properties of their environment, changing their behavior as a re ...
JUN 09, 2020
Immunology
Peacekeeping Engineered T Cells Restore the Balance in Diabetes
JUN 09, 2020
Peacekeeping Engineered T Cells Restore the Balance in Diabetes
For patients with type 1 diabetes, hope is around the corner with a new experimental therapy that uses genetically modif ...
JUL 09, 2020
Immunology
Infection During Pregnancy Could Trigger Autism in Children
JUL 09, 2020
Infection During Pregnancy Could Trigger Autism in Children
Researchers from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of California, Davis have revealed new insights into the ...
JUL 14, 2020
Coronavirus
What Makes A Strong Antibody Response to Coronavirus
JUL 14, 2020
What Makes A Strong Antibody Response to Coronavirus
Scientists all over the world are racing to develop a vaccine that effectively and safely prompts protective immunity to ...
AUG 06, 2020
Immunology
Resetting the Body's Danger Sensor
AUG 06, 2020
Resetting the Body's Danger Sensor
The human body has a sophisticated danger-sensing mechanism that alerts the immune system when something is not right. T ...
Loading Comments...