In the disease atherosclerosis, cholesterol-containing plaques form in vessel walls, causing arteries to narrow and greatly increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Currently, atherosclerosis is the number 1 killer worldwide, just ahead of cancer. Recent use of statin anti-cholesterol drugs has reduced cardiovascular events caused by atherosclerosis by 35%, but millions of individuals remain at risk. Hence, a desirable addition or alternative would be intervention to prevent plaque formation altogether.
“We knew atherosclerosis had an inflammatory component but until recently didn’t have a way to counteract that,” says senior author Klaus Ley, M.D., professor and head of LJI’s Division of Inflammation Biology. “We now find that our vaccination actually decreases plaque burden by expanding a class of protective T cells that curb inflammation… Continue reading....
To eradicate pathogens or counteract inflammation, cells of the immune system move through often rapid blood flow toward peripheral disease sites, such as skin, gut or lung. Thus a goal of immunologists has been to define the repertoire of molecules that not only keep fast-moving immune cells on course but allow them to access inflamed tissues.
Now, a team led by La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LJI) researcher Klaus Ley, M.D., reports that helper T cells move toward inflamed tissue using membrane protrusions that stabilize them and provide traction on the vasculature. Using high-resolution microscopy and global molecular analysis, the team shows that immature T cells lack these protrusions but that maturing T-cells switch on a gene expression program to create material to construct them… Continue reading.