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New immune cell found to be a key to inflammatory diseases

und that IL-17 is triggered by a unique set of signals that now define this new "lineage" of T helper cells. "They are completely different from TH1 and TH2 effector cells," says Dong. They then used a mouse model of MS and demonstrated that they could stop development of the disease with an antibody agent that blocked IL-17. Finally, they developed a transgenic mouse model of asthma and found that, by producing excessive IL-17 in the lung, they were able to produce asthmalike symptoms.

Dong says the researchers hypothesize that these newly discovered THi cells travel to selected body tissues and release IL-17. This action, in turn, stimulates expression of "chemokines," which results in a rush of inflammatory cells into the tissue. Thus a chronic inflammatory reaction is set up, he says.

The scientists don't know what initially sets off activation of the newly discovered T helper cell in diseases such as arthritis and asthma, Dong says. "We don't know why these dangerous helper T cells are activated in the patients, but we now know how they function, and that should take us a long way to understanding and treating these and other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases."


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Contact: Nancy Jensen
nwjensen@mdanderson.org
713-794-1584
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
2-Oct-2005


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