MAY 24, 2018 1:26 AM PDT

Isolating a Neurological Protein May Protect Against Inflammatory Disorders

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Investigators from Osaka University have isolated a neurological protein involved in the activation of immune cells that typically protect against inflammatory disorders. This discovery is crucial because it can lead to the development of new treatments for inflammatory diseases.

The immune cells known as macrophages are categorized as M1 or M2 inflammatory macrophages. The M1 cells participate in the inflammatory response that destroys invading organisms, while M2 cells hold anti-inflammatory properties that are believed to protect against inflammatory diseases.

The investigators were aware that before these macrophages carried out their intended roles, they must first be activated and transformed into either the M1 or the M2 subtype. However, the mechanisms behind macrophage subtype commitment are not fully understood.

The current study, as reported in Nature Immunology, has isolated a protein that drives macrophages to differentiate into the M2 type, which protects against inflammatory conditions. The M1 and M2 macrophage populations hold differing energy needs, so the macrophages must be able to sense and respond to nutrients in their surroundings as part of the activation process. The research team investigated a cell signaling pathway that forces macrophages to form the M2 subtype, this signaling pathway is known as mTOR.

Investigators utilized used a chemical inhibitor that stops the activity of the mTOR protein using and enables them to observe how other proteins in the pathway were affected.

Surprisingly, the study led to the identification of a protein by the name of Sema6D, known for its role in neuronal guidance during nervous system development. So, when M2 macrophages were genetically engineered, they did not contain Sema6D.

Without Sema6D protein, the macrophages are unable to undergo transformation into the M2 cell population. Once M2 differentiation can be inhibited, investigators realized how this might affect the protective role of these cells in inflammatory conditions.

Lead researcher Atsushi Kumanogoh believes the research findings conclude that Sema6D inactivation prevents M2 differentiation, which causes the body to be more susceptible to inflammatory conditions.

"We’re hopeful that this discovery offers new leads in the drug discovery process for these diseases,” notes Kumanogoh.

Source: Alpha Galileo

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
SEP 25, 2019
Immunology
SEP 25, 2019
Your Immune Response Varies from AM to PM
“My biological clock is ticking.” We’ve heard people say this phrase - maybe even said it ourselves - but what do we mean exactly? Often...
SEP 29, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
SEP 29, 2019
Researchers Can Now Reverse Skin Cancer
Ten years ago, just 5% of people with advanced melanoma (skin cancer) lived more than five years after being diagnosed. Now however, researchers from the I...
NOV 19, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 19, 2019
Ketogenic Diet Appears to Help Protect Against the Flu
The ketogenic diet forces the body to use stored fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates; the fat gets broken down into ketone bodies....
NOV 20, 2019
Immunology
NOV 20, 2019
Harnessing the Power of Natural Killer Cells to Fight Cancer
Manipulating the immune system’s population of natural killer cells could bolster therapies targeting cancer. A new study saw positive results invest...
NOV 27, 2019
Immunology
NOV 27, 2019
Playing "Tag" with the Immune System
Human cells employ an intricate tagging system to manage protein activity in the body. By “tagging” a protein with a certain modification, cell...
DEC 04, 2019
Neuroscience
DEC 04, 2019
Antibiotic Usage May Cause Parkinson's, Study Finds
A study from Helsinki University Hospital, Finland suggests that excessive usage of certain antibiotics may increase one’s risk of developing Parkins...
Loading Comments...