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Study Observes T Cells With Inflamed Skin

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Woman with vitiligo

Karolinska Institutet researchers have observed how two subgroups of immune cell behave in healthy skin. The study opens up new opportunities to develop local treatments for inflammatory skin disorders, vitiligo and psoriasis. The outcome is published in the journal, Immunity.

T Cells

With different types of immune cell, including T cells, healthy skin is protected from microbial attacks. CD49a+ T cells can help kill pigment cells in those affected by vitiligo, which causes patchy loss of pigmentation. On the other hand, CD49a- T cells benefit individuals with psoriasis.

The leaders of the study were Yenan Bryceson, Ph.D., assistant professor at Karolinska Institutet and Liv Eidsmo, Ph.D., senior researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medicine. They examined how T cells operate to protect healthy skin from external attacks and retain their functions in psoriasis and vitiligo.

Stanley Cheuk, doctoral students and other colleagues used nearly 1,500 skin biopsies for each experiment and several hundred kilograms of healthy skin.

“By combining the genetic analysis of a small population of immune cells from healthy skin with functional experiments we were able to define two subgroups of memory immune cell and in detail decipher/dissect how these cells behave in healthy and inflamed skin,” explained Eidsmo.

Understanding Skin Disorders

According to Medical News Today, “In healthy skin, CD49a+ and CD49a cells are dormant, but quickly respond with inflammatory and cytotoxic effects when stimulated by IL-15, a protein secreted from skin cells as a rapid-response defense against microbial attack.”

"If we can decipher the local immunological changes that give rise to the accumulation of one of the subgroups involved in these patchy skin disorders, we'll be on the way to more targeted treatments," said Eidsmo.

Through the ALF agreement with Stockholm County Council, the following grants helped finance this study:

  • The Swedish Research Council
  • The Ragnar Söderberg Foundation
  • The Wallenberg foundations
  • The Swedish Dermatology Foundation

Source: Medical News Today

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