Scientists uncover clues on inflammation in central nervous system

Oct 21, 2010

Scientists at Barrow Neurological Institute have recently made discoveries about a type of cell that may limit inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS) – a finding that could have important implications in the treatment of brain disorders such as multiple sclerosis. The research, led by Barrow's Fu-Dong Shi, MD, PhD, was published in the August 2010 issue of The Journal of Experimental Medicine, and simultaneously highlighted in Nature.

Dr. Shi directs the Neuroimmunology Laboratory and Flow Cytometry Core Facility at Barrow. One of his research interests is natural killer (NK) , a type of immune cell that destroys tissue that has been infected by pathogens and malignant cells. While recent research has shed more light on the role of NK cells in other parts of the body, Dr. Shi's research is unveiling important discoveries about how NK cells work in the CNS.

In multiple sclerosis, the body's immune system attacks myelin, a protective sheath surrounding nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. By studying a pre-clinical model of multiple sclerosis, the Barrow research revealed that enriching an affected area with NK cells improved disease symptoms, while blocking NK cells to the CNS made symptoms worse. The research indicates that NK cells – especially those that originate in the CNS, as opposed to NK cells from peripheral organs – play a critical role in controlling the magnitude of CNS and immune response.

"These studies provide novel insight into the biology of NK cells and might lead to the design of NK cell-based approaches for intervention in inflammatory and autoimmune disorders of the ," says Dr. Shi. "Our findings have important implications for understanding the efficacy of some drugs currently used in CNS diseases such as ."

Explore further: Know the brain, and its axons, by the clothes they wear

Provided by St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New role for natural killers

Aug 27, 2008

Scientists at the University of York have discovered a new role for a population of white blood cells, which may lead to improved treatments for chronic infections and cancer.

'Natural killer' cells keep immune system in balance

Oct 01, 2009

Natural killer, or NK cells, are part of our innate immune system. A healthy body produces them to respond early during infection. They are activated and they kill cells infected with a given virus.

Caffeine prevents multiple sclerosis-like disease in mice

Apr 07, 2008

Mice given caffeine equivalent to a human drinking six to eight cups of coffee a day were protected from developing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model for the human disease Multiple Sclerosis ...

Immune system important in fight against stomach cancer

Jun 28, 2010

Researchers have identified cells in the immune system that react to the stomach ulcer bacterium Helicobacter pylori, one of the risk factors for the development of stomach cancer. This discovery could lead to faster diagno ...

Recommended for you

Know the brain, and its axons, by the clothes they wear

Apr 18, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—It is widely know that the grey matter of the brain is grey because it is dense with cell bodies and capillaries. The white matter is almost entirely composed of lipid-based myelin, but ...

Turning off depression in the brain

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Rapid whole-brain imaging with single cell resolution

Apr 17, 2014

A major challenge of systems biology is understanding how phenomena at the cellular scale correlate with activity at the organism level. A concerted effort has been made especially in the brain, as scientists are aiming to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.