Tagged / immunology

BU medical science in top immunology journal, ‘Immunity’.


Colleagues at Cornell University and I have used the fruit fly, Drosophila to tease apart the relationship between immunity and the gut microbiome. The work (which took six years to complete) is to be published in Immunity (impact factor 20 for the ‘metricists’ out there) and has major significance because it starts to explain how the human immune response ‘tolerates’ the billions of ‘good’ bacteria in our body.

Many animals carry billions of bacteria in their intestines which are critical for the digestion of ingested foods. This poses a problem for immune cells because signs of the bacteria regularly end up outside the gut and in circulation. Normally, bacterial signals would elicit a powerful immune system but it would be bad news if the gut microbiome was targeted for destruction by immune cells. How this cordial relationship is maintained is therefore of major interest to immunologists and medical science because it has implications for how we understand inflammatory diseases.

We show for the first time that cells called nephrocytes remove bacterial signals (proteoglycans that make bacterial cell walls) from circulation and that this dampens immune responses. Disruption of this removal system causes immune cells to be over-active – a state not unlike chronic inflammation.

I’m duty bound as a basic scientist to make the point that this work also impacts our understanding of insect ecology. Having an over-active immune system shortened the lifespan of Drosophila – an effect likely to be seen in ecologically and medically important species such as honeybees and mosquitoes. How immune responses are affected by the environment in these species is also a very hot topic of research – one that can also be modeled in Drosophila.

Best wishes,

Paul Hartley (Dept of Life and Environmental Sciences)

Congratulations to Dr. Mariam Vahdaninia

Congratulations to Dr. Vahdaninia in FHSS on the publication of her PhD paper ‘ω-3 LCPUFA supplementation during pregnancy and risk of allergic outcomes or sensitisation in offspring: a systematic review and meta-analysis’ which has been accepted by the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. This journal is published by Elsevier and has an Impact factor of 2.6.

This paper addresses the increasing global trend in allergic diseases over the past last two decades with children suffering the highest burden. The increasing burden of allergic conditions is an important public health concern and understanding how to prevent the development of allergic diseases is a vital area of research. In this paper, the authors have assessed the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids in randomised controlled trials that have supplemented pregnant women during pregnancy for prevention of allergic diseases in children. Their results have shown that intake of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy can reduce the risk of sensitisation to egg and peanut in children. These findings have important implications in research since food allergies are common in children and are a key risk factor for developing sensitisation to aero-allergens and allergic respiratory diseases later in life.

The publication is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anai.2018.12.008


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen