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Stop That Itch!

  September, 5 2007 0:38
your information resource in human molecular genetics
Immune cells in the skin secrete a chemical that limits the inflammatory response to poison ivy and sunburn, according to a report online in Nature Immunology.

Steve Galli and colleagues look at how the immune system responds to irritants such poison ivy and poison oak or to sunburn, all of which can lead to blistering of the skin. Their research identifies mast cells, a form of immune cell that resides in the skin, as the source of interleukin 10 (IL-10), a molecule known to suppress immune responses. Mice that lack mast cells or have mutant mast cells that are unable to make IL-10 develop larger skin lesions, which last much longer, than those of normal mice upon exposure to the irritant found in poisonous plants. The mutant mice also display higher numbers of T cells recruited to the affected skin lesions.

The work identifies a new role for mast cells, which have been previously associated with releasing mediators of allergic reactions. The authors utilize these findings to manipulate mast cell release of IL-10 in settings of skin inflammation and irritation to limit further damage. These findings might lead to new therapies for skin damage.

Author contact:

Stephen J. Galli (Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA)
E-mail: sgalli@Stanford.edu

Abstract available online.

(C) Nature Immunology press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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