The intestinal ulcers of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as colitis, are often the result of collateral damage and if unchecked could eventually lead to colon cancer. In the November issue of Nature Immunology, researchers at Harvard University could prevent colitis disease development and provide relief of established experimental colitis in mice by blocking the action of a signal that activates leukocytes at inflammatory sites, called macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF). Thus, Terhorst and colleagues identify a potential therapeutic target that may lead to relief for those patients living with chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
MIF was shown to play an essential role in the pathogenesis of murine colitis, which mimics Crohn's disease in humans. Animals defective for MIF production failed to develop the wasting disease and diarrhea. Administration of antibodies that block MIF action leads to suppression of inflammation and the disappearance of infiltrating lymphocytes in the established bowel lesions. This treatment might prove beneficial to Crohn's disease patients, who express higher than normal concentrations of MIF in their blood. Therapies directed at reducing MIF might reduce the severity of established may not only be useful for inflammatory bowel disease, but have the potential to reduce the incidence of its most-feared long-term complication, colon cancer.
Cornelius P. Terhorst
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
Tel: +1 617 667 7147
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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