Two studies online in Nature Immunology pinpoint the cellular machinery required to drive allergic reactions. When faced with allergens, immune cells known as mast cells release compounds that elicit wheezing, itching and swelling -- the hallmarks of allergic inflammation. Although prior work established that calcium plays a key role in mounting allergic responses, the channel through which calcium flows into mast cells was unknown.
The groups of Monika Vig and Tomohiro Kurosaki generated mice lacking CRACM1 and STIM1 -- components implicated in channeling calcium into other cell types. Mast cells from these mutant mice failed to take in calcium and send out allergic mediators upon allergen challenge. As such, these mutant mice were resistant to stimuli normally capable of provoking severe allergic reactions.
This research adds to our body of knowledge about allergic disorders and, along with future work, could be useful in the design of therapies.
Tomohiro Kurosaki (RIKEN Yokohama Institute, Yokohama, Japan)
Monika Vig (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts)
Abstracts available online:
(C) Nature Immunology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza