The constant presence of a population of 'regulatory' immune cells is essential for the prevention of autoimmune disease, according to a paper published in the February 2007 issue of Nature Immunology.
Other strategies to impede autoimmunity exist, but whether they could maintain a healthy immune system in the absence of such 'regulatory' cells is not clear.
Alexander Rudensky and colleagues devised a way to rapidly deplete adult mice of regulatory immune cells called T regulatory (Treg) cells. Shortly after Treg cell depletion, immune cells traveled to and began damaging internal organs. All mice succumbed to that fatal autoimmune attack within 4 weeks of Treg cell depletion.
These results emphasize that Treg cell function is more critical than other strategies for keeping potentially harmful cells in check.
Alexander Rudensky (University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
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