q&more
My watch list
my.chemie.de  
Login  

News

Social control among immune cells improves defence against infections

This mechanism could improve immune therapies for cancer

Immunity Journal

This image depicts T cells interacting with each other. Cell surfaces are labeled in red, cell nuclei in blue and receptors mediating communication in green.

13-Feb-2020: A simple mechanism, previously known from bacteria, ensures that the immune system strikes a balance between the rapid expansion of immune cells and the prevention of an excessive self-damaging reaction after an infection. This has now been deciphered by scientists at the University of Freiburg - Medical Center (Germany) and colleagues from the Netherlands and Great Britain. An infection quickly activates T-cells, which leads to their proliferation. The research team has now shown that these cells are able to perceive each other and - based on their density – jointly determine whether or not they should continue to proliferate. The newly discovered mechanism could also help to improve cancer immunotherapies.

Cooperation among immune cells

"We showed that these immune cells perceive and regulate each other. The immune cells act as a team and not as autonomously acting individualists," said Dr. Jan Rohr, head of the study and scientist at the Centre for Immunodeficiency (CCI) at the University of Freiburg - Medical Center. "This principle of density control of immune cells is simple and very effective. This makes it reliable and at the same time hopefully accessible for therapeutic approaches," said Rohr. At low density, the T-cells support each other in their proliferation. As soon as a threshold value of cell density is reached, the mutual support turns into mutual inhibition, which prevents further cell proliferation. This mechanism leads to the efficient amplification of initially weak immune reactions, but is also able to prevent excessive and potentially dangerous immune reactions.

Immunotherapies could become even more effective

This finding casts a new light on certain cancer immunotherapies. Tumors protect themselves by suppressing the immune system. To circumvent this, therapies have been developed in which T-cells are taken from patients, strengthened and expanded in the laboratory, and finally returned to the patient. For these therapies usually high cell counts are administered to make the therapy particularly effective. "It is possible that the immune cells switch off each other if they are administered at high numbers. A repeated administration of lower numbers of immune cells may fight the tumour cells more effectively. ," says Rohr. The extent to which this might help to improve current immunotherapies will have to be investigated in further studies.

In their study, the scientists investigated immune cells in the laboratory using microscopic time-lapse imaging and genetic analyses. The mechanisms found were then used by researchers at the University of Leiden, Netherlands, to develop a mathematical model of cell-cell interactions. Finally, the mechanisms found were tested in animal models. "These different research approaches complemented and supported each other very well," said the project leader from the University of Freiburg - Medical Center.

Original publication:
"Quorum-regulation mediated by nested antagonistic feedback circuits via CD28 and CTLA-4 confers robustness to CD8+ T cell population dynamics"; Immunity; 2020

Facts, background information, dossiers

  • immune system
  • immune cells
  • T cells
  • infections
  • cancer immunotherapies

More about Uni Freiburg

  • News

    Innocent and highly oxidizing

    Chemical oxidation, the selective removal of electrons from a substrate, represents one of the most important transformations in chemistry. However, most common oxidants often show disadvantages such as undesired side reactions. The chemist Marcel Schorpp and colleagues from the group of Pr ... more

    Programming with the Light Switch

    In the development of autonomous systems and materials, self-assembling molecular structures controlled by chemical reaction networks are increasingly important. However, there is a lack of simple external mechanisms that ensure that the components of these reaction networks can be activate ... more

    Coronavirus data analysis

    Dr. Wolfgang Maier and Dr. Björn Grüning from the University of Freiburg, together with researchers from universities in Belgium, Australia and the USA, have reviewed the previously available data on sequences of the novel coronavirus and published their analyses on the open source platform ... more

  • q&more articles

    Modular biofactories at the cellular level

    Despite his love for complex molecular architectures, this „dyed-in-the-wool“ bio-organic chemist has never embraced the conventional segregation of synthetic polymers and bio­logical macromolecules. All molecules are composed of atoms, after all. Why make an artificial distinction? Why not ... more

    Bookmarks

    From a pluripotent stem cell a muscle cell or a liver cell can form, which despite their difference in appearance, are genetically identical. From one and the same genotype, therefore, the most diverse phenotypes can be formed – epigenetics is making it possible! It is a very exciting area ... more

  • Authors

    Dr. Stefan Schiller

    Stefan M. Schiller studied chemistry at Gießen (Mainz, Germany) and the University of Massachusetts, majoring in macromolecular chemistry and biochemistry. For his doctorate in biomimetic membrane systems he worked till 2003 at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz. Researc ... more

    Julia M. Wagner

    Julia M. Wagner studied pharmacy in Freiburg (licensure 2008). Since 2008 she is a PhD student and research assistant in the group of Professor Dr. M. Jung. Her research focuses ­on the cellular effects of histone deacetylase inhibitors. more

    Prof. Dr. Manfred Jung

    Manfred Jung is a graduate of the University of Marburg, where he studied pharmacy (licensure  1990) and obtained his doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry with Prof. Dr. W. Hanefeld. After a post-doctorate at the University of Ottawa, Canada, he began with independent research in 1994 ­at ... more

q&more – the networking platform for quality excellence in lab and process

The q&more concept is to increase the visibility of recent research and innovative solutions, and support the exchange of knowledge. In the broad spectrum of subjects covered, the focus is on achieving maximum quality in highly innovative sectors. As a modern knowledge platform, q&more offers market participants one-of-a-kind networking opportunities. Cutting-edge research is presented by authors of international repute. Attractively presented in a high-quality context, and published in German and English, the original articles introduce new concepts and highlight unconventional solution strategies.

> more about q&more

q&more is supported by:

 

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE