In the March issue of Nature Immunology, scientists show that a protein known as TRAIL may be important in preventing the development of dangerous immune cells that have the ability to attack other healthy cells. This finding adds a potentially important piece to the puzzle of how our body purges unwanted cells to prevent autoimmune diseases.
Immune cells known as T cells are vetted early during their development for their potential to kill healthy cells, long before they have a chance to cause any unwanted damage. Chen and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania examined mice that do not express TRAIL and found that these mice cannot efficiently eliminate developing T cells in the thymus, the organ in which T cells undergo this stringent ‘quality control’. Although this observation has not yet been directly linked to autoimmune diseases, it has important implications in a process that is required to shape the normal immune system.
Youhai H. Chen
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Tel: +1 215 898 4671
Additional contact for comment on paper:
Douglas R. Green
Dept of Cell Immunology
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
San Diego, CA
Tel: +1 858 558 3515
Also available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
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