New research undertaken at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified a previously undetected link between a specific enzyme and inflammation-provoking white blood cells called neutrophils that are associated with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as with leukemia. The finding may potentially open new avenues for treating these diverse diseases. The study appears in the January 6 edition of Cell Metabolism.
The enzyme type identified in the study is associated with the production of fats called ether lipids. Researchers found that mice that were unable to make the enzymes developed extremely low white blood cell counts, and that the absence of ether lipids caused neutrophils to die. That discovery could lead to the targeting of ether lipids as a way to reduce the number of neutrophils in inflammatory diseases and leukemias. The researchers believe limiting, rather than eliminating, ether lipids may be the best approach because neutrophils are important infection fighters.
Read more about the findings here.
Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to ether lipids as enzymes. PAINWeek regrets the error.