Findings from preclinical experiments conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham may point to possible new therapeutic targets for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The research team reports that they have identified a subset of immune cells, called CD4 T cells, that can generate and prolong chronic IBD and may also be implicated in other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. Author Laurie Harrington, PhD, associate professor at the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology at University of Alabama, commented, “We think these cells could be in a number of auto-inflammatory diseases. Our hope is, if we could treat these cells, it could be curative.” The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Effector CD4 T cells are progenitors that are capable of differentiating into several types of T-helper cells found in IBD. The mechanism by which the immune cells trigger chronic inflammation is poorly understood, although it is known that the conditions are accompanied by the presence of an abundance of the cytokine interferon-gamma, produced by the CD4 T cells. But working with mouse models, the UAB team separated CD4 T cells into those that produced interferon-gamma and those that did not. They found that the interferon-gamma-negative cells were capable of triggering and sustaining intestinal inflammation and were able to continually seed differentiated interferon-gamma-producing cells within the affected intestine.
Read about the research discovery.
The journal abstract may be read here.
Posted on July 3, 2018