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Helpful and harmful gut immune cells

A type of immune cell that contributes to inflammatory bowel disease exists in two forms – “good” and “bad”.

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These two populations are akin to worker and soldier ants, playing different roles depending on their context.

The “worker ant” population of immune cells is found naturally in the gut and helps keep the lining of the intestines healthy. The other population is triggered in response to infection by a pathogen.

Similar to soldier ants, these immune cells are called in to help fight infection, travelling from lymph nodes to the gut and other parts of the body to attack the invading pathogens. Although they are necessary to fight infection, these cells can cause excessive inflammation.

Studying the differences between these two cell populations in mice, a multidisciplinary research team has revealed potential ways to target the cells associated with immune-inflammatory diseases, while sparing the ones that help keep the gut healthy.  

 

Image credit | Science Photo Library 

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