FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

T cells paralyzed with early inflammatory response

T cells paralyzed with early inflammatory response. | Courtesy of biology.usf.edu
Researchers from UC Davis recently discovered that when CD4 T cells, which are immune cells that help to strategize the immune system’s response to invaders, have early exposure to inflammatory cytokines, the cells are paralyzed.

This system may be a firewall for the body, as it stops the immune system’s functions before it gets out of control.

T cells must recognize invading cells in order to activate. They cells receive the appropriate co-stimulatory signals and meet inflammatory cytokines to further advance the immune’s response.

Now, researchers can see that the immune system’s third signal can come so early that it could inhibit the body’s immunity. These early inflammatory occurrences are part of some immunotherapies.

This new discovery could help researchers to create better drugs for autoimmune conditions, more efficient cancer immunotherapies and novel methods for speeding the recovery process from sepsis.

"There's a three-signal process to activate T cells of which each component is essential for proper activation," Gail Sckisel, first author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow, said. "But no one had really looked at what happens if they are delivered out of sequence. If the third signal -- cytokines -- is given prematurely, it basically paralyzes CD4 T cells."

"These stimulatory immunotherapies are designed to activate the immune system, but considering how T cells respond, that approach could damage a patient's ability to fight off pathogens,” Sckisel said. “While immunotherapies might fight cancer, they may also open the door to opportunistic infections."

Further details are available in the journal Immunity.

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