The NLRP3 receptor protein is responsible for detecting potential pathogens in the body and launching an immune response. (Image by MLGProGamer123 via Wikimedia Commons)
Chronic inflammation, which results when old age, stress or environmental toxins keep the body’s immune system in overdrive, can contribute to a variety of devastating diseases, from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to diabetes and cancer.
Now, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have identified a molecular “switch” that controls the immune machinery responsible for chronic inflammation in the body. The finding, which appears online Feb. 6 in the journal Cell Metabolism, could lead to new ways to halt or even reverse many of these age-related conditions.
“My lab is very interested in understanding the reversibility of aging,” said senior author Danica Chen, associate professor of metabolic biology, nutritional sciences and toxicology at UC Berkeley. “In the past, we showed that aged stem cells can be rejuvenated. Now, we are asking: to what extent can aging be reversed? And we are doing that by looking at physiological conditions, like inflammation and insulin resistance, that have been associated with aging-related degeneration and diseases.”
In the study, Chen and her team show that a bulky collection of immune proteins called the NLRP3 inflammasome — responsible for sensing potential threats to the body and launching an inflammation response — can be essentially switched off by removing a small bit of molecular matter in a process called deacetylation.
Overactivation of the NLRP3 inflammasome has been linked to a variety of chronic conditions, including multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes and dementia. Chen’s results suggest that drugs targeted toward deacetylating, or switching off, this NLRP3 inflammasome might help prevent or treat these conditions and possibly age-related degeneration in general.
“This acetylation can serve as a switch,” Chen said. “So, when it is acetylated, this inflammasome is on. When it is deacetylated, the inflammasome is off.”
By studying mice and immune cells called macrophages, the team found that a protein called SIRT2 is responsible for deacetylating the NLRP3 inflammasome. Mice that were bred with a genetic mutation that prevented them from producing SIRT2 showed more signs of inflammation at the ripe old age of two than their normal counterparts. These mice also exhibited higher insulin resistance, a condition associated with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
The team also studied older mice whose immune systems had been destroyed with radiation and then reconstituted with blood stem cells that produced either the deacetylated or the acetylated version of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Those who were given the deacetylated, or “off,” version of the inflammasome had improved insulin resistance after six weeks, indicating that switching off this immune machinery might actually reverse the course of metabolic disease.
“I think this finding has very important implications in treating major human chronic diseases,” Chen said. “It’s also a timely question to ask, because in the past year, many promising Alzheimer’s disease trials ended in failure. One possible explanation is that treatment starts too late, and it has gone to the point of no return. So, I think it’s more urgent than ever to understand the reversibility of aging-related conditions and use that knowledge to aid a drug development for aging-related diseases.”
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- CRIME STOPPERS SOLVED: Man wanted on robbery, theft charges arrested
A Davenport man was sentenced Wednesday to 120 months, or 10 years, in federal prison for possessing a firearm as a felon.
- New Treatment for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Neovascularization is responsible for severe vision loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A promising approach to this problem is to inhibit vascular endothelial growth ...
- How Do You Slow Down Dry Macular Degeneration? A Review By Doctors
Expert opinion from Afra Abdussamad MBBS · 3.5 years of experience · India Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is an acquired degeneration of the retina that causes significant central visual ...
- How Is Macular Degeneration Diagnosed?
Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a progressive form of vision loss diagnosed using eye tests and imaging techniques.
- Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Choroidal neovascularization is the primary cause of visual loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration. Current treatments, proven to offer a benefit for these patients through ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
[google_news title=”” keyword=”aging-related degeneration” num_posts=”5″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Chronic Inflammation and Immunologic-based Constraints in Malignant Disease
In order to decrease cancer incidence, known risk factors that induce chronic inflammation should be avoided (i.e., exposure to environmental hazards, infectious organisms and diet). Targeted ...
- Foods to incorporate into your anti-inflammatory diet
While medications and treatments exist to manage inflammation, certain food groups harbor anti-inflammatory compounds, offering a natural approach to keeping inflammation in check. Berries While you ...
- Everything You Need to Know About Alcohol and Inflammation, According to Experts
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing; if you’re sick, inflammation is a sign that your body is working to get rid of the virus or bacteria. But if you’re experiencing chronic inflammation as a result ...
- AbbVie inks $713m deal for OSE chronic inflammation drug
The licensing deal comes as AbbVie is weathering the impact of biosimilar competition to Humira (adalimumab), its big-selling immunology and inflammation brand used to treat a host of diseases ...
- Revolution via resolution: AbbVie pays $48M for OSE's preclinical chronic inflammation drug
AbbVie is talkin’ bout a resolution. The Big Pharma has bet $48 million on OSE Immunotherapeutics’ antibody platform, handing the biotech the upfront fee and dangling another $665 million in ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
[google_news title=”” keyword=”chronic inflammation” num_posts=”5″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]