Mysterious Still

t-cellIn the Febuary issue Nature Immunology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers uncover one immune system mystery and claim more lurk in the distance.

The question is this, How does the small intestine, a veritable biosphere of helpful (but still foreign) bacteria escape the heavy hand of the immune system that is supposed to repel foreign microbes? This Science Daily article is full of immune system education.

It describes how agents of the immune system, T-cells, have different levels of alert. Dendritic cells act as informants, preventing T-cells from attacking familiar cells, self-product. In this study, stromal cells are found to be fulfilling the same function for the small intestine. T-cells take their direction from stromal cells and leave the small intestine be.

I recommend the article.  I think the relevance to autoimmunity, hinted at in the intro to the story, is that unknown systems of creating immune system tolerance to foreign agents could lead to treatments that would protect cells the immune system should not be attacking, like islet cells in diabetes patients, myelin in M.S. patients, or synovial fluid in R.A. patients.

Story: Science Daily

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