NYU researchers identify novel therapy for rheumatoid arthritis
April 18, 2016
The Yin and Yang of T cells in Rheumatoid Arthritis In rheumatoid arthritis, either an abnormal surge by infection-fighting T cells or a dip in the activity of inflammatory-fighting T cells??”or perhaps both??”could cause the immune system to attack our own joints instead. "Therefore, if you have an abnormal and suppressed regulatory T cell function, you have enhanced potential for autoimmunity," says Dr. Abramson.
The researchers bolstered previous evidence for such a link by examining the blood of 25 patients with varying degrees of rheumatoid arthritis. "In essence, what we were able to show is that if you look at this regulatory T cell population in rheumatoid arthritis patients, it is abnormally low in function, and the sicker the patients are, the more depressed that cell function is," says Dr. Abramson.
The defective regulatory cells from these patients were revived in tissue cultures with this enzyme inhibitor, the study showed. "We could get them back to almost a normal level of activity, like what you'd see in a healthy individual," says Dr. Dustin.
The researchers also tested the Compound 20 inhibitor in a mouse version of Crohn's disease, which is characterized by intestinal inflammation. When the researchers treated the regulatory T cells with the enzyme inhibitor and then injected them into the mice, their anti-inflammation activity rose so much that they essentially protected the mice from the disease, even though the cells were outnumbered four to one by their pro-inflammatory counterparts.
"The theory is that if you could restore normal regulatory T cell function, then you could restore their ability to suppress the inflammation process, and prevent this abnormal destruction of your joints," Dr. Abramson says.
Source: NYU Langone Medical Center