Last month the University of Pennsylvania revealed key insights about how a specific molecule, IL-33, is released and how it can have a drastic effect on health conditions including eczema, asthma, and obesity.
By studying two types of infections and their responses they were able to fill in the unknown gaps of the significance of this molecule.
Before we start...
Cytokine - a group of proteins responsible for signaling other cells information about immunity and inflammation.
IL-33 - series of proteins in genes. It can help defend against infection, and also suppress chronic inflammation in diseases.
Epithelial cells - cells on the surface of your skin. They provide a barrier between the outside world and your internal body.
Parasitic: parasite, an organism that lives on and gets its food from or at the expense of its host
Worms unique persistence allowed the team to understand the complexities of IL-33 and its effects.
"Parasitic worms manipulate their hosts in very interesting ways to maintain their survival," says De’Broski Herbert, an associate professor of pathobiology in Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine. "Worms aren't spread so easily, so they have to figure out how to persist."
The team tested with mice with and without IL-33. They discovered that the effectiveness of IL-33 depends upon which cell type is releasing it.
"Sure enough, we found that when animals lacking the IL-33 experienced a hookworm infection, they eliminated those hookworms quite fast," Herbert says. “Mice lacking IL-33 in the epithelial cells, however, were not able to readily clear the infection.” Epithelial cells reside on the surface of the skin.
Their findings also suggest the findings extend to human health.
What does this mean?
This allows researchers to narrow their focus to epithelial cells and gain an understanding of how they can more effectively fight against immunology and inflammation. Further research studies from the University of Pennsylvania are on the way.
"It's kind of the missing link," Herbert says. "It opens up a whole new direction for understanding how this cytokine could be involved in obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's, asthma, and development."
This information is not meant to replace a visit to a physician or a physician’s advice. Always consult your doctor about your medical conditions. The Eczema Relief Store does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any condition.