‘Inflammatory bowel disease’ finds clues to root treatment beyond symptom relief

British research institute “Intestinal ‘glial cells’ are highly related to inflammatory bowel disease”
“Intestinal ‘glial cells’ were found to be involved in more fundamental immune function”
“Sending an ’emergency signal’ to other immune cells in the event of pathogen invasion or tissue damage”
Rapidly emerging as a new target for the development of treatments such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis”

inflammatory bowel disease. Getty Images Bank

Inflammatory bowel disease, a disease in which the intestines are chronically inflamed. It is known that this disease is caused by a combination of various factors such as heredity, environment, and immunity, but the exact cause is still unknown.

Abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloody stools, and weight loss are typical symptoms, and unlike enteritis or irritable bowel syndrome, which have similar symptoms, inflammatory bowel disease has symptoms that appear over several months and recur repeatedly. So far, treatment for this disease has only been to relieve the symptoms.

However, this time, the results of a study that found a clue to the fundamental treatment for inflammatory bowel disease came out.

On the 20th (local time), scientists at the Francis Creek Institute in the UK have found that the glial cells that support nerve cells in the nervous system of the intestine are involved in a more fundamental immune function.

The team explains that the glial cells of the enteric nervous system have the function of coordinating the immune response when a pathogen invades or tissue damage occurs.

This suggests that intestinal glial cells can be a key target in the development of therapeutics for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the research team emphasized.

In Crohn’s disease, inflammation occurs throughout the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, and ulcerative colitis occurs only in the large intestine.

Astrocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Provided by the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute

The study focused on the role of gut ‘glial cells’ in the immune response to tissue damage. The enteric nervous system controls many aspects of digestive function, including intestinal muscle contraction, and the glial cells in the intestinal lining are one axis of the nervous system.

‘Neuroglia Cell’ creates the chemical environment necessary for ‘neuron’ to function inside the brain and spinal cord.

If nerve cells take on the essential functions of nerve tissue, glial cells supporting nerve cells perform functions such as supplying nutrients, removing wastes, and phagocytosing senescent cells between blood vessels and nerve cells. Astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia, and Schwann cells all belong to this class.

In a mouse model experiment, scientists found that as soon as roundworms invade the intestinal lining, immune cells secrete ‘interferon gamma’.

Although interferon gamma normally acts on cells of the immune system, it has been confirmed that the primary target of interferon gamma includes intestinal glial cells.

Glia cells activated by interferon gamma immediately sent emergency signals to other immune cells. They were told to gather at the damaged area of ​​the intestinal tissue to fight infection.

To determine whether a similar mechanism works in humans, the team analyzed tissue sample data from patients with ulcerative enteritis collected in another previous study.

Ulcerative enteritis is a disease that causes severe diarrhea and stomach cramps due to prolonged inflammation of the colon and rectum.

neuron image. yunhap news

Here, results similar to those in the mouse experiment were obtained. In other words, genes related to interferon gamma were also activated in human intestinal glial cells.

This suggests that gut glial cells are associated with inflammatory diseases of the gut.

Frances Progatsky, a postdoctoral researcher at the Neurological Developmental Homeostasis Lab, who is the first author of the paper, said, “As for inflammatory bowel disease, at present, the cause of inflammatory bowel disease cannot be dealt with and the only thing to do is to relieve the symptoms.” “This insight will further study the interaction of gut glial cells with the immune system and will help develop new therapies.”

In order to determine the role of intestinal glial cells in the absence of infection, the research team blocked the action of interferon-gamma-activated glial cells.

This shows that glial cells are important for maintaining intestinal tissue health even in the absence of other diseases or tissue damage.

“Glia cells are also present in many other body organs,” said Dr Vasilis Parknis, the paper’s corresponding author. emphasized.

The results of this study were published as a thesis in ‘Nature’ on the same day.

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