Researchers have identified two factors that allow Th17 cells – which drive multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune conditions – to form memory cells in the body and cause repeated symptom flare-ups.
Cytokines are immune mediators, knowing the identity of these molecules will make it possible for scientists to search for ways to prevent T-cells (a type of white blood cell, which circulates the body, scanning for cellular abnormalities and infections) from entering a chronic state.
More and more research continues to points to Th17 T-cells as being responsible for the chronic nature of autoimmune diseases. It has been found that in these conditions, a subset of T-cells form memory cells, which then travel around the body and cause recurrent symptom flares. However, scientists have yet to determine what cause the memory cells to form.
The study, ‘Interleukin-7 and -15 maintain pathogenic memory Th17 cells in autoimmunity’ was published in the Journal of Autoimmunity and conducted by a research team from Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear. The team decided to take a closer look at the cytokines interleukin-7 (IL-7) and -15 (IL-15) as recent studies have suggested that they might be involved in autoimmune conditions.
By blocking IL-7 and IL-15 in a mouse model of the autoimmune dry eye disease, the researchers realised that these cytokines are crucial for Th17 cells’ survival. Without them, substantially fewer memory cells formed.
The findings could be significant if researchers can find a way to translate the findings into treatments for human autoimmune diseases.
Dana who is the Claes H. Dohlman Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School told MS Today: “By selectively targeting the production and expression of IL-7 and IL-15, we may be able to prevent the development of chronic autoimmune disorders.”
“In the case of dry eye disease, many of the treatments are showing limited efficacy in patients that do not have a highly inflamed eye. Targeting the chronic, immune nature of autoimmune diseases may be a better strategy for controlling these conditions,” she added.
Source: Multiple Sclerosis News Today Copyright © 2013-2017 BioNews Services, LLC (11/01/17)