Study Finds Immune Cells Known Also To Directly Attack Neurons

Researchers from Germany have recently found some evidence that w a direct interaction between immune cells and neurons that may lead to possible neuronal injury. It shows a new insight into how the immune system may cause neuron damage associated with diseases such as multiple sclerosis. The said study has recently been published in the journal Immunity.

The study by researchers from the University Medical Center, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz made use of powerful imaging tools to determine the role that immune cells play in causing damage to neurons. Dr. Volker Siffrin and Professor Dr. Frauke Zipp, along with colleagues used two-photon laser scanning microscopy or TPLSM to study how immune cells affect neuronal damage in mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, the animal model of MS. The researchers observed that there was a direct synapse-like interaction between the immune cells and neurons.

Immune cells that have been linked to autoimmune inflammation known as Th17 cells caused calcium levels in neurons to elevate. Normal calcium levels in neurons play a crucial role in exciting nerve cells as well as muscle cells. But elevated calcium levels can be toxic to the cells in the long run.

“Our use of in vivo imaging during disease has led to the characterization of neuronal dysfunction as early and potentially reversible, and suggests that immune-mediated disturbances of the neurons themselves contribute to multiple sclerosis, in addition to interruptions in nerve cell transmission as a result of changes to the myelin sheath,” Professor Zipp said.

Source: Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres (2010, September 24). New findings on multiple sclerosis: Immune cells also attack neurons directly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.comĀ­ /releases/2010/09/100923125113.htm

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