Identified: Proteins that protect against joint inflammation

Zsolt Kasza, Sudeepta Kumar Panda, Long Jiang, Fredrik Wermeling, Sanjay Boddul, Yunbing Shen and Vaishnavi Iyer at the Wermeling laboratory, the Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Solna. Photo: Erik Holmgren
Article Highlights
  • Proteins that protect against joint inflammation identified
  • Endogenous proteins that play a vital part in allergies and parasitic infection can prevent the immune system from wrongly attacking the body and causing inflamed joints
  • immune cells can sometimes wrongly attack the body, resulting in what are called autoimmune diseases. These diseases are often serious and affect some five per cent of the population
  • Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now discovered that certain proteins called IL-4 and IL-13 can play an important part in preventing autoimmune attacks. The proteins, which are secreted by immune cells in the presence of allergens or parasitic infections, influence the behaviour of a specific type of immune cell called a neutrophil. Neutrophils are commonly the most abundant immune cells found in the actively inflamed joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. They are particularly virulent against tissue since they can secrete various fairly non-specific tissue irritants
  • Previous research has shown that IL-4 and IL-13 can affect arthritis in experimental models, but exactly how they do so has remained a mystery. The results of this latest study show that these proteins prevent neutrophils from migrating into the inflamed joint. The presence of IL-4 or IL-13 also stimulates an increase in neutrophil surface receptors which have an inhibiting effect on joint inflammation
  • “We will continue to study these mechanisms and hope that our work can contribute to the development of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis”

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