Research Horizons


Newly Discovered Pathway Suggests How T-Cells Can Help Drive MS, IBD and Type 1 Diabetes

Autoimmunity Acceleration

In a study published online Dec. 17, 2019, in Nature Immunology, scientists at Cincinnati Children’s report finding a key molecular pathway that may open doors to better treatments for autoimmune diseases.

The study, in mice, shows how auto-reactive T cells, macrophage and dendritic cells in the immune system work through two other molecules—TNF (tumor necrosis factor) and FasL (fas ligand)—to produce overabundant amounts of IL-1b (cytokine interleukin-1 beta).

This excess amount of IL-1b protein appears to feed a T-cell-driven inflammation process found in diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

“This means our findings have two previously unknown implications,” Pasare explained. “We show for the first time that IL-1b can be made in the absence of infection and that T cells are major drivers of IL-1b in an autoimmune setting.”

The findings suggest that targeting the TNF and FasL pathway of IL-1b production is more likely to be an effective way of treating auto-immune diseases in humans. However, it remains too early to determine whether these mouse-based findings will translate safely and effectively to humans.

Read more about the research
Publication Information
Original title: T cells instruct myeloid cells to produce inflammasome-independent IL-1β and cause autoimmunity
Published in: Nature Immunology
Publish date: Dec. 17, 2019
Read the study

Research By

Aakanksha Jain, PhD
former member of the Pasare laboratory
Chandrashekhar Pasare, DVM, PhD
co-director of the Center for Inflammation and Tolerance
Dr. Pasare's laboratory is involved in studying the Toll-like receptor signaling pathway in cells of the innate immune system and also investigating the mechanisms by which these receptors regulate adaptive immune responses.