Tissue Stiffness Is A Driver Of Immune Response In Most Chronic Diseases, Research Shows

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Tissues stiffness results in tension in body cells, and researchers have established that stiffness can affect the innate immune system by increasing its metabolisms. A team of researchers from Stanford University, University Health Network (University of Toronto), University of Alberta, and Buck Institute has found that cellular tensions can set off an inflammatory loop contributing to aging chronic diseases.

Tissues stiffness plays a role in acute infection

The researchers led by Buck Associate Professor Dan Winer published their work in Cell Reports, in which they present an emerging way of understanding how the immune system works. Equally, the team looks at new immunotherapeutic possibilities and calls for researchers to reconsider how they conduct research.

Although stiffness is a major factor in acute infections, Winer and his colleagues focused on how stiffness arising from the environment can impact immune cells. He said although bacteria and viruses are vital in triggering immune responses, the environment around cells could be a critical part of the puzzle influencing immunity. Winer added that tissue stiffness and resulting in cell tensions changes in most diseases and aging. The research offers support for a new thinking way regarding how the immune system works, suggesting that mechanical force primes control immunology during chronic and acute diseases since it prepares the immune system to deal with danger.

Dendritic cells trigger an immune response

Winer and his team cultured dendritic cells as an innate immune system component that triggers an immune response from bone marrow and spleen at different physiological stiffness levels. The dendritic cells grow at physiological resting stiffness demonstrated minimal activation, proliferation, and cytokine production relative to cells cultured in high stiffness, which imitated fibro-inflammatory disease.

Mainak Chakraborty, Research Assistant at the University Health Network, said that high stiffness-grown dendritic cells demonstrated increased activation and change in major glucose metabolic pathways. In tumor immunotherapy and autoimmune diabetes model, cellular tension primed the dendritic cells to show a response from the adaptive immune system kicking in following injury or infection.

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