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Increased understanding of immune system activation
03 March 2009
Linda Andersson at Malmö University in Sweden has studied the ability of dendritic cells to sample the surrounding environment. To understand how different materials are taken up and what happens within the cells can for example facilitate the development of new vaccines.
“The immune system is a large and important part of ourselves and the dendritic cells are important for the activation of this system”, Linda Andersson says.
“One task of the immune system is to protect the body from infections. The dendritic cells have an unique ability to obtain samples from its environment and treat the material, in process called endocytosis. In my study I have explored how dendritic cells recognise and capture particles.”
To study the endocytosing ability of dendritic cells Linda Andersson has used zeolite particles and through them different biomolecules are transported into the cell. With the help of zeolites you can follow different paths and study what happens within the cell.
“The result shows that zeolites are an useful tool for studying endocytosis and that there are differences between various dendritic cells”, Linda Andersson says.
“A method is developed for studying the early activities of the endocytosing mechanism within the cells. From this you can go further and study other processes and other types of cells.”
Zeolites belong to a group of silica particles which easily can adsorb different types of molecules, for example antibodies and other proteins. The type of molecule and the charge and amount of molecules affects the endocytosing ability of the cells.
Dendritic cells are found in different parts of the body, for example skin, mucous, spleen and circulating in the blood. Linda Andersson has chosen to study the cells in the blood. In her study dendritic cells from the blood are compared with dendritic cells produced in vitro, that is from a culture in an artificial environment. Dendritic cells are not so common in the blood. Through in vitro-culture you can easily produce many dendritic cells.
“The differences in the early events of the endocytosing mechanism between these two types of cells were considerable” Linda Andersson says.
“This is important to point out, since in vitro-cells are among other things considered in the development of new vaccines. The blood cells are better at taking up particles while the in vitro-cells are better at taking up proteins and soluble molecules.”
The thesis by Linda Andersson contributes to an increased understanding of how the important dendritic cells work.
“I hope that the method developed in my study can be used to produce more knowledge about the different paths of the endocytosed material and how the dendritic cells recognise and capture the bodies own material and foreign harmful material”, Linda Andersson says.