Researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences have made a discovery that could help halt excessive inflammation in the body.
Published in Nature Communications, the findings could assist researchers in developing new treatments for inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, and improve the quality of life for patients with these conditions.
When immune cells (white bloods cells) in the body are exposed to infection, powerful inflammatory agents such as cytokines are produced to fight the infection. In some instances, the cytokine levels can get out of control, causing inflammation and significant tissue damage.
The study found that the arginase-2 protein could limit inflammation by working through mitochondria, the energy source of the white blood cells. In addition, the findings demonstrated, for the first time, that arginase-2 is critical for decreasing a potent inflammatory cytokine called IL-1.
The study may help researchers to develop novel therapeutics that target the arginase-2 protein to treat inflammatory diseases.
The research was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia.