New Research Implicates Immune System in Rett Syndrome
[Source: Medical News Today]
New research by investigators at the University of Massachusetts Medical School suggests the immune system plays an unsuspected and surprising role in the progression of Rett syndrome, a severe neurological disorder affecting children. Immune cells known as macrophages are unable to perform their normal function and are instead amplifying the disease. The finding, recently published in Immunity, points to the immune system as a promising target for slowing the progression of Rett syndrome.
“Rett syndrome patients have a mutation that makes macrophages hyper-sensitive to specific stress signals,” said Vladimir Litvak, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and physiological systems and co-senior author of the study. “It’s like being in a car with only a gas pedal; that part of the immune system is constantly on. This causes damage to the surrounding tissue and eventually wears out the macrophages so they die off en masse.
“This study points to the immune system as an important contributor to the disease,” Dr. Litvak said. “If we can find a way to modulate the immune system, take our foot off the gas a bit if you will, it’s possible we could delay the progression of symptoms in patients.”
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