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Coping with Immune Cell Death

  September, 18 2008 8:30
your information resource in human molecular genetics

Researchers have discovered a 'sensor' molecule that alerts the immune system to the presence of necrotic cells. The work, described online in Nature Immunology, shows how the body prevents excessive inflammation caused by non-infectious injuries and prevents uncontrolled tissue damage.

Poisons, ultraviolet light, radiation and other non-infectious injuries can lead to inflammation and necrosis -the unnatural death of cells and tissue material. Takashi Saito and colleagues find that a receptor molecule called Mincle, expressed by macrophages, functions as a direct sensor for this type of cell death.

Mincle detects internal components of necrotic cells that are released into the surrounding milieu. This drives macrophages to produce a chemical signal, interleukin 8 that promotes infiltration of white blood cells called neutrophils into necrotic tissues. The neutrophils then help resolve inflammation caused by the necrotic debris.

Author contact:

Takashai Saito (RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology, Yokohama, Japan)
E-mail: saito@rcai.riken.jp

Abstract available online.

(C) Nature Immunology press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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