New warning system discovered in the immune defenceJanuary 12, 2018
Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have discovered a previously unknown warning system that contributes to the body's immune system. Mitochondria in the white blood cells secrete a web of DNA fibres that raises the alarm. The results have been published in the scientific journal PNAS, and may lead to increased knowledge about autoinflammatory diseases and cancer.
White blood cells are major components of the body's immune defence, and the research group has shown that several types of these cells react against small DNA fragments that are similar to the DNA from bacteria and viruses. The white blood cells spray out a web consisting of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) strands. Mitochondria are present in all cells and normally produce the energy needed by the cell, by burning sugar and fat to form water and carbon dioxide.
The web that the mitochondria release sends signals to the surrounding cells that the body is under attack, and cause other white blood cells to release a signal substance known as "interferon type 1". This substance helps the immune system to combat the infection.
Previous studies have shown that the level of mtDNA in the blood can be elevated after certain inflammatory diseases and after some surgical traumas.
"We show that the white blood cells in the immune system can release mtDNA outside the cells in an active process in response to infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. The discovery raises the possibility of further studies in which we will try to reduce the release of mtDNA, and in this way reduce the inflammation that it causes," explains Björn Ingelsson, researcher and associate lecturer at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University. He has conducted the research together with Professor Emeritus Anders Rosén and other co-workers.
Other types of web formed by white blood cells in the immune system (known as "neutrophils") have been previously known. These cells release meshes coated with antibacterial proteins. However, the formation of the newly discovered mtDNA webs differs fundamentally from that of the other types of web. The researchers have shown that the mtDNA webs are activated within a couple of minutes, which is faster than the neutrophil-based meshes. The latter also lack the signal function that the mtDNA webs have. Further, the mtDNA webs survive in the blood longer before being dissolved.
But surely this is a positive process in which the immune defence works to remove the intruding bacteria or viruses?
"Well, of course it's positive that the defence mechanisms are activated. But remember that you can have too much of a good thing. If an unintentional secretion of mtDNA occurs, or if the secreted mtDNA is not removed from the blood, undesired inflammation may occur, and it is this side-effect we want to prevent," says Björn Ingelsson.
High levels of interferon type 1, the signal substance activated by the mtDNA webs, occur in several autoimmune diseases and several types of cancer. The researchers believe that it may be possible to quantify the secreted mtDNA molecules and interpret the warning signals, and in this way understand these diseases better.
The research has been financed with support from Linköping Medical Society, Linköping University, Region Östergötland, the Ingrid Asp Foundation and the Swedish Cancer Society.
For more information, please contact:
Anders Rosén, professor emeritus
Björn Ingelsson, research fellow
Karin Söderlund Leifler, communications officer
Related Cancer Articles:
East Asian female breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy have a higher risk of developing second primary lung cancer.
Continuing PLOS Medicine's special issue on cancer genomics, Christos Hatzis of Yale University, New Haven, Conn., USA and colleagues describe a new subtype of triple negative breast cancer that may be more amenable to treatment than other cases of this difficult-to-treat disease.
Osaka University researchers revealed that the metabolite D-2-hydroxyglurate (D-2HG) promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of colorectal cancer cells, leading them to develop features of lower adherence to neighboring cells, increased invasiveness, and greater likelihood of metastatic spread.
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers have identified an essential driver of tumor cell invasion in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer that can occur at any age.
University of Hawai'i Cancer Center researchers developed a computational algorithm to analyze 'Big Data' obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer.
University of Oklahoma researchers will apply a new analytical technology that could ultimately provide a powerful tool for improved treatment of cancer patients in Oklahoma and beyond.
Researchers have found that treating patients who have early stage non-small cell lung cancer with a type of radiotherapy called stereotactic body radiation therapy is associated with a small but increased risk of death from causes other than cancer.
Is investment in research to develop new treatments the best approach to controlling cancer?
The University of Illinois Cancer Center and Governors State University have received a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to help both institutions conduct community-based research to reduce cancer-related health disparities in Chicago's south suburbs.
The Cancer Research Institute, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy, the European Academy of Tumor Immunology, and the American Association for Cancer Research will join forces to sponsor the first International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York, Sept.
Related Cancer Reading:
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Author)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and now a documentary from Ken Burns on PBS, The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.
Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly... View Details
The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, Second Edition: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery
by Rebecca Katz (Author), Mat Edelson (Author)
This new and revised edition of the IACP award-winning cookbook brings the healing power of delicious, nutritious foods to those whose hearts and bodies crave a revitalizing meal, through 150 new and updated recipes.
Featuring science-based, nutrient-rich recipes that are easy to prepare and designed to give patients a much-needed boost by stimulating appetite and addressing treatment side effects including fatigue, nausea, dehydration, mouth and throat soreness, tastebud changes, and weight loss. A step-by-step guide helps patients nutritionally prepare for all phases of... View Details
The Truth about Cancer: What You Need to Know about Cancer's History, Treatment, and Prevention
by Ty M Bollinger (Author)
Cancer touches more lives than you may think. According to the World Health Organization, one out of three women alive today, and one out of two men, will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.
To Ty Bollinger, this isn’t just a statistic. It’s personal. After losing seven members of his family to cancer over the course of a decade, Ty set out on a global quest to learn as much as he possibly could about cancer treatments and the medical industry that surrounds the disease. He has written this book to share what he’s uncovered—some of which may shock you—and to give you... View Details
F*ck Cancer: A totally inappropriate self-affirming adult coloring book (Totally Inappropriate Series) (Volume 4)
by Jen Meyers (Author)
*A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to support research dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. Because fuck cancer.
This book is for you.
If you are fighting cancer, this is for you. If your brother, sister, mom, dad, son, daughter, relative, or friend is fighting cancer, this is for you. If you've lost someone to cancer like I have, this is for you. If cancer affects your life in any way, this is for you.
The stress of cancer can feel crushing. But perhaps this book can help you get away from it all, if only for a little... View Details
Anticancer: A New Way of Life
by David Servan-Schreiber MD PhD (Author)
The revolutionary, New York Times bestselling guide to the powerful lifestyle changes that fight and prevent cancer—an integrative approach based on the latest scientific research
“A common-sense blueprint for healthy living.” —Chicago Tribune
“Resonating with cancer support communities and recommended nationwide.” —Los Angeles Times
“Life affirming . . . filled with practical advice.” —The Seattle Times
David Servan-Schreiber was a rising... View Details
Tripping over the Truth: How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Is Overturning One of Medicine's Most Entrenched Paradigms
by Travis Christofferson (Author), Dominic D'Agostino (Foreword)
With a new foreword by Dr. Dominic D'Agostino, PhD and epilogue by the author
A masterful synchronization of history and cutting-edge science shines new light on humanity's darkest diagnosis.
In the wake of the Cancer Genome Atlas project's failure to provide a legible roadmap to a cure for cancer, science writer Travis Christofferson illuminates a promising blend of old and new perspectives on the disease. Tripping over the Truth follows the story of cancer’s proposed metabolic origin from the vaunted halls of the German scientific golden age to... View Details
Cancer Hates Tea: A Unique Preventive and Transformative Lifestyle Change to Help Crush Cancer
by Maria Uspenski (Author), Dr. Mary L. Hardy (Foreword)
Drink Tea to Tell Cancer ‘Hit the Road’
Become a tea lover with a purpose and help your body defend itself against cancer. Learn to embrace tea in all its varieties― green, white, black, pu-erh, herbal and more―as both a mental and physical experience to protect your health. Discover the history, growing information and health implications of each variety, as well as uniquely delicious methods to boost your intake with serving suggestions, food pairings and recipes that highlight the benefits of tea.
After her own battle with cancer, Maria Uspenski extensively... View Details
Anti-Cancer Smoothies: Healing With Superfoods: 35 Delicious Smoothie Recipes to Fight Cancer, Live Healthy and Boost Your Energy
by Linda H. Harris (Author)
Anti-Cancer Diet, Cancer Fighting Foods, and Cancer Nutrition
Whether you have cancer or you're at risk of cancer because of your family history - the way you eat can have a major impact on your health and your ability to fight or manage your disease. Cancer is notorious for sapping the strength and nutrition out of a person's body. You'll need to replace a lot of the vitamins, nutrients and minerals that certain drugs and treatments deplete.
The Anti-Cancer Smoothies in this book are made of healthy and tasty vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs that are known to fight cancer.... View Details
The Biology of Cancer, 2nd Edition
by Robert A. Weinberg (Author), Robert A Weinberg (Author)
Thoroughly updated and incorporating the most important advances in the fast-growing field of cancer biology, The Biology of Cancer, Second Edition, maintains all of its hallmark features admired by students, instructors, researchers, and clinicians around the world.
The Biology of Cancer is a textbook for students studying the molecular and cellular bases of cancer at the undergraduate, graduate, and medical school levels. The principles of cancer biology are presented in an organized, cogent, and in-depth manner. The clarity of writing, supported by an extensive... View Details
Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do: 2013 Edition
by Greg Anderson (Author)
The ground-breaking classic guide to surviving cancer?now completely updated!
Revised and updated for the first time since 1999, this invaluable guide to cancer recovery offers an easily accessible plan for patients and family members. Written by a cancer survivor, the book is an inspiring, action-oriented roadmap for those who choose to adopt a stance of hope and take charge of their diagnosis.
With penetrating insights that bring together more than two decades of scientifically supported research and experience, Anderson reveals a step-by-step holistic action plan... View Details