Scientists have long sought to better understand the human body’s immune responses that occur during various diseases, including cancer and inflammatory diseases.
In a recent study from the University of Missouri, Emma Teixeiro, an associate professor at the MU School of Medicine, and her team looked at how immunological memory, the memory retained by the body’s immune system after an infection or vaccination that helps protect against reinfection, – is generated and maintained, as well as the role that inflammation plays in the formation of this immunological memory.
“Our immune system defends us against disease, but it’s a very complicated system where a lot of interactions take place, and if things get dysregulated, they can actually play a role in causing disease,” said Teixeiro, who works at the NextGen Precision Health Institute on the MU campus. “Therefore, our research is focused on better understanding how these immune responses can be generated and controlled, specifically by looking at the critical role that T cells play, as T cells help protect the body from infection and may play a role in cancer attack.
Using a mouse model, the researchers created several strains of pathogenic bacteria that increased levels of inflammation via interferon gene stimulator, or STING, proteins within T cells. While many scientists assumed that this increase in inflammation would result in a stronger immune response and therefore a stronger immune memory, Teixeiro and his team found the opposite: immunological memory was reduced.
“Some scientists in the field believe that STING activation may be targeted to improve cancer vaccines or immunotherapies, so gaining a basic understanding of all the interaction mechanisms at play is critical to reducing the chances of unintended consequences.” unwanted or harmful side effects,” Teixeiro said. “We want to better understand how to regulate immunological memory, which has implications for potential vaccines or immunotherapies that activate T cells in a way that hopefully increases long-term memory, so that our bodies are protected from disease over time.” “.
While his research is fundamental in nature, Teixeiro’s findings have the potential to contribute to the development of more effective treatments to help patients suffering from cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and childhood-onset STING-associated vasculopathy. (SAVI), asthma and other chronic inflammatory syndromes.
“The search for knowledge is what drives my curiosity as a scientist,” Teixeiro said. “While there are still more questions to be answered, this investigation is a small step in the right direction and I am proud to be a part of it.”
“STING controls T-cell memory fitness during infection via intrinsic T-cell and indoleamine-pyrrole 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO)-dependent mechanisms” was recently published in PNAS. Study co-authors include Michael Quaney, Curtis Pritzl, Rebecca Newth, Karin Knudson, Vikas Saxena, Caitlyn Guldenpfennig, Diana Gil, Chris Rae, Peter Lauer, Mark Daniels, and Dezzarae Luera.