NKT Deficiency Associated with Autoimmune Disorders

A new control mechanism in the immune system has been discovered by researchers at the Swedish Medical University Karolinska Institutet. The mechanism may be useful in the treatment of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and synaptic lupus erythematosus.

"Now that we've started to understand the regulatory mechanisms involved in these autoimmune diseases, we are hopeful that new treatments can be found," Mikael Karlsson, associate professor at the Department of Medicine at Karolinska Institutet in Solna, said in a press release.

Journal of Experimental Medicine

The study was published in the , and demonstrated that a deficiency in NKT cells is a contributory pathogenic factor of developing certain autoimmune diseases.

"We've demonstrated that NKT cells can regulate how B cells become activated against healthy tissue, and that a lack of NKT cells results in greater misguided B cell activation," Dr. Karlsson said, in a press release. "So now we can mechanically link the NKT cell defect in patients to the disease."

The study also shows that the NKT cells directly impede faulty B cell activation, and that they do so early in the misdirected process. The team managed to inhibit the activity of pathogenic B cells by adding NKT cells - a result that may one day lead to new types of treatment.

"This means that new treatments specifically targeting the protective NKT cells can help this patient group," concludes Dr Karlsson.

A new control mechanism in the immune system has been discovered by researchers at the Swedish Medical University Karolinska Institutet. The mechanism may be useful in the treatment of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and synaptic lupus erythematosus.