Wednesday, July 1, 2009

T Cell Rehabilitation

Image found here.

I read this recent article from Medical News Today with interest. Love the title - "They Are Young And Need The Job".

The article discusses t-cells, white blood cells that originates in bone marrow, mature in the thymus, and are important because they are responsible for identifying, attacking, and destroying infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. You can read more about these t-cells here.

On occasion, such as happens in autoimmune disease, t-cells mistakenly identify healthy normal tissue as an infectious or foreign agent, and signals the immune system to begin attacking the body's own healthy tissue. These misguided t-cells are then described as autoreactive.

The Medical News Today article discusses the ability of the body to re-educate young autoreactive t-cells.

Some of these autoreactive T-cells, however, undergo a kind of reeducation to become "regulatory T-cells" that keep other autoreactive T-cells under control. A group led by immunologist Professor Ludger Klein of LMU Munich has now shown that the developmental stage of an autoreactive T-cell is decisive to its ultimate destiny. Young autoreactive T cells are very readily reeducated into regulatory T-cells. Under identical conditions, however, older T cells become fully activated and can cause damage......... resistant to reeducation.

If I understand this correctly, it seems that the body has it's own rehabilitation program for juvenile delinquent t-cells, and that there is a window of opportunity for rehab which closes once the cells become older. The young t-cells that have been re-educated go on to assume responsibility for keeping other wayward youngsters under control.


So those of us with autoimmune disease are dealing with a crop of juvenile delinquent t-cells that have become older, hardened criminals and are chomping away at our own healthy tissue.

I'll bet there is some kind of larger social lesson for humanity to be learned here.

No comments: