Mobilizing white blood cells to the lung: New discovery could lead to an improved influenza vaccine

Jul 10, 2008

Findings just published in the scientific journal Immunity by researchers at the Trudeau Institute shed new light on how a previously-unknown messaging mechanism within the human immune system prompts specific influenza-fighting cells to the lung airways during an infection.

Infections from the influenza virus are responsible for hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and as many as 40,000 deaths in the United States each year. Although researchers have known for some time that white blood cells congregating in the lung and directly attacking the virus play an important role in defending against influenza, it has never been clear how exactly these white blood cells know when they are required in the lung.

Now new research in the Trudeau Institute laboratory of Dr. David Woodland offers important insights into the navigational aids used by these cells as they maneuver through the human body. Trudeau investigators have shown that lungs which have been infected with the influenza virus produce a series of chemicals, or chemokines, which act as beacons for specific types of white blood cells. While circulating in the bloodstream, these white blood cells recognize the chemical messages signaling the presence of the virus and the need for them to move into lung tissues.

According to Dr. Woodland, director of the Trudeau Institute and lead researcher on the project: “An important aspect of these findings is that this response occurs early in the disease process, typically within a couple of days of the initial infection. It also turns out that only a fraction of the available white blood cells are capable of recognizing these chemokine messages. Discovering that this response occurs rapidly, and that only a specific subset of white blood cells can recognize these messages, helps provide important new information for researchers working towards developing better a better influenza vaccine.”

The research paper, “The Chemokine Receptor CCR5 Plays a Key Role in the Early Memory CD8? T Cell Response to Respiratory Virus Infections,” is available in its entirety in Immunity.

Source: Trudeau Institute

Explore further: Depressive symptoms and pain may affect health outcomes in dialysis patients

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft unveils Xbox in China as it faces probe

28 minutes ago

Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled its Xbox game console in China, the first to enter the market after an official ban 14 years ago, even as it faces a Chinese government probe over business practices.

Classic Lewis Carroll character inspires new ecological model

29 minutes ago

Inspired by the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, collaborators from the University of Illinois and National University of Singapore improved a 35-year-old ecology model to better understand how species ...

Teens love vacation selfies; adults, not so much

1 hour ago

(AP)—Jacquie Whitt's trip to the Galapagos with a group of teenagers was memorable not just for the scenery and wildlife, but also for the way the kids preserved their memories. It was, said Whitt, a "selfie ...

Recommended for you

Increasing malarial drug resistance a growing threat

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The parasite that causes malaria is growing increasingly resistant to the drugs commonly used to fight it, according to new surveillance reports. But several new drugs are in development, and ...

User comments : 0