How body determines optimal amount of germ fighting cells

November 5th, 2008 - 3:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 5 (IANS) Researchers have figured out how the body determines whether there are enough mature B-cells at any one time, which produce antibodies to fight infections.”There is a steady number of B-cells that is considered normal for humans,” said co-author Michael P. Cancro, professor of pathology and lab medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

“We found that molecular crosstalk between two receptors on the surface of B cells balances the need to have enough B cells to make good immune responses, while at the same time guarding against autoimmunity,” Cancro said.

Cancro, co-author Jason E. Stadanlick and others found that when more of a protein called BLyS, which binds to a receptor on B-cell surfaces is circulating, more mature B cells can be kept alive.

By adding more BLyS to the system, the “brakes” governing how many immature B cells are allowed to become mature B cells are relaxed, said a release of the University of Pennsylvania.

On the other hand, the body guards against autoimmune diseases such as lupus by preventing the survival of B cells via the other receptor in this equation.

The research from the Cancro lab reveals a complicated interplay between these two receptors that allows them to integrate their signals, which are at odds with one another.

“One receptor sends signals to the cell nucleus that says, ‘yes stay alive, the body needs more B cells,’ while the other says ‘wait a minute, be careful which B cells are allowed to live.’”

These findings appeared online this week in Nature Immunology.

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