Researchers at National Jewish Health have discovered a type of cell that may contribute to autoimmune disease. The findings also suggest why diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis strike women more frequently than men.
The cells, a subset of immune-system B cells, make autoantibodies, which bind to and attack the body’s own tissue. The researchers report the journal Blood, that they found higher levels of these cells in elderly female mice, young and old mice prone to autoimmune disease, and humans with autoimmune diseases. National Jewish Health has applied for a patent for a method to treat autoimmune disease by depleting these cells.
These cells increase as healthy female mice age, but remain at constant low levels in healthy male mice. As a result, the researchers named the cells Age-associated B Cells or ABCs. The researchers also found higher levels of ABCs in young and old mice that are prone to autoimmune disease. They could detect the elevated ABC levels before any disease developed and even before autoantibodies appeared, suggesting a role for these cells in early detection of disease.
Source: Medical Xpress © Medical Xpress 2011 (05/07/11)