The protein DEL-1, is a central actor that ensures that excessive inflammation subsides. Scientists were able to demonstrate the importance and basic function of this protein. Their work could provide new approaches for the treatment of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, metabolic diseases, inflammatory bone diseases or cancer. The results of the study were now published in the journal "Nature Immunology" (www.nature.com, DOI /10.1038/s41590-018-0249-1).
Inflammatory processes are a natural defense reaction of the immune system against pathogens. Inflammation can spread like a fire and last for a long time if it is not effectively combated. The protein DEL-1 plays a central role in the body's own fire brigade. "We were able to show that DEL-1 decisively regulates the immune defense. Figuratively speaking, the protein controls a large part of the extinguishing and clean-up work. Understanding this mechanism could in future contribute to better treatments for various inflammatory diseases," said Prof. Triantafyllos Chavakis, Director of the Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IKL) at the TU Dresden and group leader at the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden.
At the beginning of an inflammatory process, certain immune cells, so-called neutrophils, migrate into the affected tissue. There they drive the inflammation as well as another cell type of the immune defense - so-called macrophages or scavenger cells - which produce inflammation-promoting substances. The protein DEL-1 forms a kind of bridge between macrophages and dying neutrophils. On the one hand, this causes the macrophages to eat dying neutrophils in a kind of clearing up action. On the other hand, DEL-1 reprograms the macrophages to produce anti-inflammatory substances. "Both are important processes that reduce inflammation and restore a healthy balance in the tissue," emphasize Dr. Ioannis Kourtzelis and Dr. Ioannis Mitroulis, scientists at IKL and NCT/UCC Dresden.
"Understanding the mode of action of DEL-1 is an important basis for developing new therapies against metabolic diseases," says DZD-Reseacher Dr. Ünal Coskun of the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden, which is operated jointly by Helmholtz Zentrum München and the University Hospital at the Technical University of Dresden. Due to its fundamental importance for the inflammatory balance, DEL-1 not only acts as a bridge between immune cells, but also connects research on various diseases.
Kourtzelis et al. DEL-1 promotes macrophage efferocytosis and clearance of inflammation. Nat Immunol. 2018 Nov 19. doi: 10.1038/s41590-018-0249-1. [Epub ahead of print]