Scientists identify immune complex that plays key role in inflammatory diseases

Researchers have identified an immune complex that plays an important role in inflammatory diseases including psoriasis rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.

The research published in Nature Genetics suggests a new therapeutic target: stimulating an immune system signalling pathway with a small-molecule inhibitor could be a helpful strategy for treating immune and inflammation disorders such as psoriasis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Scientists in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Neuroscience at the University of Sydney are the first in the world to have identified a key part of the so-called executioner immune complex part of the brain which during inflammation helps drive a pathway that delivers immune applications into all the bodys cells.

Their research was based on studies of the brains of 19 populations all of whom had a higher genetic mutation compared to others increasing their risk of inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis.

Interleukin-1 (IL-1) signaling helps activate immune cells to kill invading microbes.

For years scientists have known this part of the immune system – the executioner – was critical for allowing the immune system to kill off invading microbes such as parasites bacteria and yeast. Given the genetic mutation we were able to measure this in a large sample of individuals with inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis said Professor Thomas Hippenmeyer who led the study.

Our findings raise the tantalising possibility that in autoimmune disease multiplying immune system-deficient individuals may need a slightly altered shape as a means of evasion as has been described for infection with tuberculosis but also in conditions such as psoriasis rheumatoid arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. These alterations may require a change in our perception of what we see around the immune system in the first place.