JUL 08, 2018 10:55 AM PDT

Natural Molecule has a Potent Anti-inflammatory Impact

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

A molecule that is naturally made by a bacterium called Francisella tularensis can disrupt the immune response, new work has shown. This natural compound is a lipid, a fatty, waxy chemical, and a pathogenic microbe can use it to bolster the chances of successfully infecting a host. These findings, by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the NIH, has potentially also revealed a therapeutic avenue for using inflammation to fight viral and bacterial illnesses. The work has been reported in the Journal of Innate Immunity.

It’s known that in human and mouse cells that are infected with F. tularensis, the bacteria can utilize lipids to suppress inflammation in those host cells.  One kind of lipid, a type of phosphatidylethanolamine, or PE, was found in that microbe by the NIH researchers; it was also determined to be unique among bacterial PEs. 

Mosquitoes and ticks can transmit a variety of diseases, including tularemia. While this life-threatening disease can be treated with antibiotics, that’s only after it’s been successfully diagnosed, a difficult prospect. F. tularensis evades detection because it can also suppress immunity in its host. 

In this study, it’s shown that this new PE is able to reduce inflammation in host cells infected with the bacteria that causes tularemia as well as the virus that causes dengue fever. Dengue is also transmitted by mosquitoes and although it isn’t usually fatal, the symptoms can be severe and include a high fever and body-wide pain.

Scanning electron micrograph of a murine macrophage infected with Francisella tularensis strain LVS. Macrophages were dry-fractured by touching the cell surface with cellophane tape after critical point drying to reveal intracellular bacteria. Bacteria (colorized in blue) are located either in the cytosol or within a membrane-bound vacuole. / Credit: NIAID

The researchers wanted to assess the therapeutic potential of PE after finding out how the bacterium can use it. Instead of using an infectious microorganism like F. tularensis to make the lipid, the investigators engineered synthetic lipids that would be easier to work with; they were called PE2410 and PEPC2410. The scientists confirmed that they had immunosuppressive effects in mouse and human cells. These synthetic molecules could mimic the immunosuppression seen in cells infected with dengue fever virus.

The scientists are now continuing their work on F. tularensis to learn more about how it impairs the immune response. They are hopeful that it will lead to a therapeutic that can reduce inflammation, considered an underlying cause of many different diseases.

 

Sources: NIH, Journal of Innate Immunity

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
OCT 24, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 24, 2018
Silver Nanoparticles Coat Anti-seizure Drugs To Combat Brain-Eating Amoebae
Since Halloween is around the corner, it is science-fiction season and some may choose to celebrate by watching movies featuring brain-eating zombies. Howe...
OCT 30, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 30, 2018
Combination of Drugs Extends Lifespan of C. elegans
In a study published in the journal Developmental Cell, a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs were recently found to extend the life of the microscopic worm,...
NOV 08, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 08, 2018
Heart Healthy Holiday Travel
You may have heard that air travel increases the risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). But did you know that those traveling long distances by t...
NOV 13, 2018
Microbiology
NOV 13, 2018
How the Microbiome, Fiber, and Heart Health are Linked
High-fiber diets are linked to better health, including healthier hearts and arteries, but why?...
NOV 23, 2018
Microbiology
NOV 23, 2018
Researchers Surprised to Find Giant Viruses in Forest Soil
Viruses were thought of as tiny infectious agents for the most part, until researchers began to discover more and more giant viruses....
NOV 27, 2018
Videos
NOV 27, 2018
The Challenge of Creating a Vaccine for HIV
The CDC estimates that 1.1 million people in the US have HIV, and around 15% are unaware they have it....
Loading Comments...