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

Research By Aakanksha Jain, PhD, Chandrashekhar Pasare, DVM, PhD

Post Date: December 17, 2019 | Publish Date: Dec. 17, 2019

Autoimmunity Acceleration

Autoimmunity Acceleration

These cell flow cytometry graphs were used by immuno-biologists to illustrate the physical and chemical characteristics of T cells that help drive autoimmunity in mice. Part of a study published by Nature Immunity, the left graph shows resting effector T cell (featured in black) before autoimmune processes are triggered. The right graph shows changes (in red) once the T cells start to produce a pro-inflammatory protein called TNF (tumor necrosis factor). This begins downstream autoimmune processes linked to several diseases in people.

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

    Aakanksha Jain, PhD

    former member of the Pasare laboratory

  • Chandrashekhar Pasare, DVM, PhD

    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.

About this blog

The Research Horizons blog features news and insights about the latest discoveries and innovations developed by the scientists of Cincinnati Children's. This blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.