Macrophage subset drives Crohn's inflammation: New treatments possible

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Macrophages found that drive Crohn's inflammation and tissue destruction
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Researchers have identified specific blood cells that are responsible for inflammation associated with Crohn's disease. The finding could mean better treatment for people suffering from Crohn's disease that is a type of i bowel inflammatory disorder (IBD).

Macrophage subset responsible for Crohn's disease severity

Scientists have pinpointed a subset of macrophages - specialized blood cells that act to destroy foreign substances such as cancer cells, viruses and infection. Macrophages also have an important role in wound healing. The cells basically "eat" worn out cells and other debris. Subsets of the cells have different roles in the body that are associated with also contributing to other autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS).

"By increasing the knowledge on the different macrophage subsets in the intestine and their blood counterparts, we hope to contribute to the discovery of more specific targets in Crohn's disease, increasing the efficiency of new treatments," said Olof Grip, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Clinical Sciences Malmö, at Lund University in Malmö, Sweden in a February 28, 2014 press release.

New drugs possible for Crohn's disease

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The researchers looked at intestinal biopsies and blood samples from people with Crohn’s disease for the study.

Next they classified macrophages into three groups, using a specialized “cell sorting” technique and then looked at how components of the macrophage subsets that known to contribute to inflammatory diseases behaved.

The scientists were able to pinpoint CD14hiHLA-DRdim macrophages as responsible for driving inflammation seen in Crohn's disease, making the disease worse and for destroying tissue.

"This work provides new leads for drugs and therapeutic targets for Crohn's disease and possibly other conditions that involve runaway inflammation," said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. "Most of our therapies for intestine inflammatory diseases like Crohn's involve non-specific immunosuppression that have variable efficacy and many side effects. Targeting specific cells types could mean fewer side effects of medications use for Crohn’s treatment Wherry adds in addition to “hopefully” helping people diagnosed with IBD lead healthier lives.

Citation:
J. Leukoc. Biol. March 2014 95:531-541; doi:10.1189/jlb.0113021 ; http://www.jleukbio.org/content/95/3/531.abstract

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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