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MS Related: Dendritic Cells Ensure Immune Tolerance

Posted Nov 17 2009 10:20pm
Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Mar. 16, 2009) — One of the most important tasks of the immune system is to identify what is foreign and what is self. If this distinction fails, then the body's own structures will be attacked, the result of which could be an autoimmune disease such as diabetes mellitus type 1 or multiple sclerosis. The only way to protect against these afflictions is to destroy all immune factors that turn against the body’s own tissue – in other words: immune tolerance.

A team working with LMU researcher Dr. David Vöhringer has now investigated exactly what role dendritic cells play in this process. There has long been suspicion that these cells, which are important for the body’s defenses, are also essential for the establishment and maintenance of immune tolerance. “We investigated mice that lacked this cell type from birth,” reports Vöhringer. “It turned out that immune cells that attack the body’s own tissue survive in these animals, and thereby trigger an autoimmune response. It follows that dendritic cells play a major part in protecting against autoimmune disease.”

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