Researchers have identified a protein that blocks the release of chemical mediators that produce the symptoms of allergic reactions. The work appears in an article online in Nature Immunology.
Mast cells are specialized immune cells that are capable of secreting large amounts of inflammatory compounds when triggered by an allergen or certain parasites. The regulatory protein, called RGS13, inhibits mast cell release of histamine and other inflammatory compounds that can occur when an allergen is encountered by sensitized individuals. RGS13 short-circuits the signaling pathway triggered when the allergen binds specialized receptors found on the mast cells. Mice lacking RGS13 exhibit heightened allergic responses as compared to littermates that express RGS13.
Identifying RGS13 as a negative regulator of mast cell degranulation - the term used to describe release of their inflammatory products - may lead to new ways of blunting allergic responses.
Kirk M Druey (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
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