A protein involved in cell metabolism, called PKM2, was found to be central to switching ‘on’ immune cells that play critical roles in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), an early study reports.
Blocking the activity of PKM2 (pyruvate kinase M2) eased MS-like symptoms in mice, suggesting that PKM2 may be a target for treating several diseases rooted in abnormal immune activation, including MS and psoriasis.
The findings are described in the study “Pharmacological Activation of Pyruvate Kinase M2 Inhibits CD4+ T Cell Pathogenicity and Suppresses Autoimmunity,” published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
One of PKM2’s main roles is the breakdown of sugar (glucose) inside cells, during an essential metabolic process called glycolysis. But PKM2 is versatile, and believed to be involved in many other cell functions.
Some studies suggest that PKM2 is important for the working of certain types of immune cells. But its role with T-cells, a crucial group of immune cells, is poorly understood.
A research team led by investigators in Trinity College Dublin looked specifically at the potential role of PKM2 in CD4+ T-cells, also known as T-helper (Th) cells, a type of immune cell at the heart of several autoimmune and allergic diseases.
Using both human and mouse cells in vitro (cultured in the lab), researchers found that the activation of CD4+ T-cells was accompanied by higher-than-normal production of PKM2, and certain modifications that made it accumulate in the cell’s nucleus (where most of the genetic material is contained).
This led the scientists to hypothesize that one of the additional roles of PKM2 is mediating, or regulating, T-cell activation. (Activated cells are cells, like T-cells, that change in response to a stimulus.)
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?