Researchers fromUniversity of California have observed that a certain protein prevents regulatory T cells (Treg) to effectively perform their function in controlling the damaging effects of inflammation in a model of multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease with a severe chronic course.
The study was published in the scientific journal Science Advances.
Treg cells: here’s what the research says
The new study turns attention toimportant role of Piezo1, a specialized protein called ion channel, in the immunity and function of T cells linked to autoimmune neuroinflammatory disorders.
“We found that Piezo1 selectively retains Treg cells, limiting their potential to mitigate autoimmune neuroinflammation “, he has declared Michael D. Cahalan, Ph.D., distinguished professor and president of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the UCI School of Medicine. “The genetic elimination of Piezo1 in transgenic mice produced an expanded pool of Treg cells, which were more able to effectively reduce neuroinflammation and with it the severity of the disease ”.
T cells rely on specialized proteins, such as Piezo1, to detect and respond to various diseases and conditions, including bacterial infections, wound healing, and even cancer. Uncontrolled T cell activity, however, can give rise to autoimmune disorders in which the immune system attacks the body’s normal cells. Tregs constantly heal immune responses and play a vital role in preventing autoimmunity.
“Given the demonstrated ability of Piezo1 to retain Treg cells, we believe that inhibition of Piezo1 may lead to new treatments for neuroinflammatory disorders, such as MS “, they explained Amit Jairaman, Ph.D., e Shivashankar Othy, Ph.D., lead authors of the study, both project scientists from the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.
Piezo1 conducts ions when cells are subjected to mechanical forces. Research over the past decade has explained Piezo1’s role in regulating vital physiological functions, including red blood cell volume (RBC), blood pressure, vascular development, bone formation, and neural stem cell differentiation.
However, its role in modulating the immune response has not been appreciated before. And, while calcium-conducting ion channels, such as Piezo1, were known to direct various aspects of T cell (Treg) function, the researchers were surprised to find that Piezo1 was not essential to a whole range of T cell functions that they rely on calcium, such as lymph node homing, interstitial motility, activation, proliferation or differentiation into effector T cells.
“We found that the role of Piezo1 appears to be quite specific for Tregs. Therefore, targeting Piezo1 could be a new and ideal strategy to treat MS while preserving the immune system’s ability to fight new infections “added Othy, whose research over the past 12 years has focused on finding ways to harness the therapeutic potential of Treg cells.
Further investigation of the function of Piezo1 is needed to understand its therapeutic potential and to more fully understand the processes by which cells perceive and respond to mechanical stimuli during immune responses.