Potential autoimmunity-inducing cells found in healthy adults

December 22, 2008

It's not just patients with autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that have self-attacking immune cells--healthy people have them too, according to a new report in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. In healthy adults, however, these cells are maintained in an 'off' state, perhaps explaining their innocuous nature. Whether these cells are the true predecessors of the self-attacking cells prevalent in lupus and RA and, if so, what prevents them from causing disease in everyone is not yet known. The new study will appear online on December 22nd.

As antibody-producing B cells develop in the bone marrow, the body tests them to determine whether their antigen receptors are apt to confuse self tissues for intruders. If so, their receptors are either rearranged to make new, non-autoreactive versions--a process called 'receptor editing'--or the cells are killed off while still in the bone marrow. Yet a minority manages to escape, slipping into the body as mature B cells with a propensity for self-attack.

Using mice, researchers have shown that these self-reactive escapees are arrested in a state of anergy that prevents them from mounting an immune attack. But, until now, a similar population of cells had never been found in humans. In the new study, a team of researchers led by J. Andrew Duty at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have pin-pointed a similar population of anergic B cells in the blood of healthy adults, where they accounted for 2.5% of B cells in the circulating blood.

Although these anergic cells did not appear to cause problems in healthy people, the authors demonstrated their potential to produce self-reactive antibodies by providing the cells with a strong stimulus in cell culture. The potential to produce these trouble-making antibodies lead the authors to suspect that these cells may contain the precursors for the self-attacking B cells in patients with autoimmune diseases. Perhaps anergy somehow breaks down in these patients, allowing self-sabotaging cells to run free.
-end-


Rockefeller University Press

Related Rheumatoid Arthritis Articles from Brightsurf:

Reducing dementia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis
The incidence of dementia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis is lower in patients receiving biologic or targeted synthetic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) than in patients who receive conventional synthetic DMARDs, according to a new study.

Is rheumatoid arthritis two different diseases?
While disease activity improves over time for most rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, long-term outcomes only improve in RA patients with autoantibodies, according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Xanthe Matthijssen of Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands, and colleagues.

Does the Mediterranean diet protect against rheumatoid arthritis?
Previous research has demonstrated a variety of health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, cereals, fruit and vegetables, fish, and a moderate amount of dairy, meat, and wine.

Reducing corticosteroid use in rheumatoid arthritis
Is the long-term use of glucocorticoids essential in people with chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, or can early discontinuation prevent characteristic side effects?

Rheumatoid arthritis patients under treatment with methotrexate
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often suffer from what is referred to as interstitial lung disease (ILD).

Rheumatoid arthritis -- can its onset be delayed or prevented?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder that leads to significant health issues as well as high treatment costs.

Disease burden in osteoarthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) has traditionally been viewed as a highly prevalent but milder condition when compared with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and some may believe that it is part of a normal aging process requiring acceptance, not treatment.

Prospect of a new treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
An international research group led by Charité -- Universitätsmedizin Berlin has completed testing a new drug to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Can rare lymphocytes combat rheumatoid arthritis?
Immunologists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg have demonstrated that ILC2, a group of rare lymphoid cells, play a key role in the development of inflammatory arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis meets precision medicine
Scientists are bringing precision medicine to rheumatoid arthritis for the first time by using genetic profiling of joint tissue to see which drugs will work for which patients, reports a new multi-site study.

Read More: Rheumatoid Arthritis News and Rheumatoid Arthritis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.