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
NOV 03, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 03, 2019
Can CRISPR Replace Antibiotics?
Antibiotic-resistant infections claim around 700,000 lives per year, with estimates saying that this number could swell to 10 million by 2050 (Jacobs: 2019...
JAN 07, 2020
Immunology
JAN 07, 2020
"Good" T Cells Can Go "Bad," But in the Case of Cancer, That's A Good Thing
T cells may be able to reach their full potential in the fight against cancer with a little nudge. In 2010, scientists first observed CD4+ T cells transiti...
FEB 12, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FEB 12, 2020
Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Work Against Coronavirus?
Over 45,000 cases of Wuhan Coronavirus have been reported globally, alongside over 1,100 deaths. Although over 4,700 people are said to have recovered from...
MAR 06, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 06, 2020
Scorpion-derived Proteins Deliver Arthritis Treatment
New research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine shows that that a scorpion-derived proteins could soon provide relief for arthritis. &...
MAR 28, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAR 28, 2020
Could the Blood of Coronavirus Survivors Save Lives?
As the search for a treatment for coronavirus continues, a perhaps obscure-sounding candidate has begun to make headlines: blood containing antibodies from...
APR 02, 2020
Immunology
APR 02, 2020
Transforming T Cells into Powerful Memory Cells That Target Cancer
New cancer treatments are now based on harnessing the power of the human body’s own immune cells to get the job done. The job? Specifically target ce...
Loading Comments...