Publication date: Aug 08, 2019
Credit: Marvin 101/Wikipedia A seldom-studied class of immune cells may reduce the friendly fire that drives autoimmune disease, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
In the study, to be published Aug. 7 in Nature, researchers tracked immune cells in the blood of mice with a disease akin to multiple sclerosis.
To their surprise, injecting mice with peptides recognized by these CD8 T cells reduced disease severity and killed disease-causing immune cells.
While the bulk of the study was done in mice, the researchers also showed that one of their central findings-an increase in CD8 T cells derived from single cells-held true in cells from people with multiple sclerosis.
Selectively activating suppressive CD8 T cells during autoimmune disease may help restore that balance, said Mark Davis, Ph. D., professor of microbiology and immunology and the study’s senior author.
Attack of the T cell clones In most cases, researchers don’t know what molecules trigger autoimmune diseases, which affect 23. 5 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Resurrecting the Titanic The researchers found two peptides recognized by CD8 T cells involved in the disease.
Since CD8 T cells are mainly known for killing cancerous and infected cells, the scientists expected that activating these cells would worsen disease.
Activating the CD8 T cells by administering the two peptides consistently reduced or prevented disease in the mice.
To determine whether their mouse observations held up in humans, the researchers isolated CD8 T cells from the blood of people with multiple sclerosis and healthy donors.
It’s a sign that CD8 T cells in multiple sclerosis are homing in on something, and Davis’ team is now working to determine what these cells are recognizing and if some of them are suppressive.
The researchers also plan to test if suppressor CD8 T cells are involved in other autoimmune diseases.
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