A specific type of immune cell in a particular activation state is linked to such immune diseases as multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a collaborative research study found.
Disease-associated genetic variants — changes in DNA sequences or mutations in genes — can affect the response of immune memory CD4-positive T-cells, in particular during an early activation state, which may contribute to the development of several immune-related diseases. (Activated cells are cells, like T-cells, that change in response to a stimulus.)
This finding adds a new layer of knowledge that may help researchers to better understand and treat inflammatory diseases.
“Our study is the first in depth analysis of immune cells and cytokine signals in the context of genetic differences linked to immune diseases,” Blagoje Soskic, its lead author, said in a news release.
The study, “Chromatin activity at GWAS loci identifies T cell states driving complex immune diseases,” was published in the journal Nature Genetics.
Much work has been done to identify potential genetic variants (genetic changes) that may be involved in disease. Several studies suggest that many of these genetic risk factors are located in regions of the genome that are related to CD4-positive T-cells and macrophages — two types of immune cells.
These cells are important elements of the body’s protective system, as they act as the first responders to potential threats like viruses.
In addition, pro-inflammatory signals (like those triggered by interferon-alpha or interleukin-4) have also been found to be essential for the proper differentiation of T-cells and macrophages, and to elicit an appropriate immune response.
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