Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Gut cells sound the alarm when parasites invade

 

When the parasite Cryptosporidium enters the body, it's cells in the intestines that first recognize the invader, triggering an early immune response, according to a new study. A leading cause of diarrheal disease in young children globally, the parasite generates an inflammatory response beginning in the intestines that exacerbates the effects of malnutrition.

To effectively combat an infection, the body first has to sense it's been invaded, then the affected tissue must send out signals to corral resources to fight the intruder. Knowing more about these early stages of pathogen recognition and response may provide scientists with crucial clues when it comes to preventing infections or treating inflammatory diseases resulting from overactive immunity.

That was the intent behind a new study, led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, examining infection with the parasite Cryptosporidium. When the team looked for the very first "danger" signals emitted by a host infected with the parasite, they traced them not to an immune cell, as might have been expected, but to epithelial cells lining the intestines, where Cryptosporidium sets up shop during an infection. Known as enterocytes, these cells take up nutrients from the gut, and here they were shown to alert the body to danger via the molecular receptor NLRP6, which is a component of what's known as the inflammasome.

See:

Adam Sateriale, Jodi A. Gullicksrud, Julie B. Engiles, Briana I. McLeod, Emily M. Kugler, Jorge Henao-Mejia, Ting Zhou, Aaron M. Ring, Igor E. Brodsky, Christopher A. Hunter, Boris Striepen. The intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium is controlled by an enterocyte intrinsic inflammasome that depends on NLRP6. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 118 (2): e2007807118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2007807118

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

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