Scientists Switch On Tissue Repair In Inflammatory Bowel Dis
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A method that instructs immune system cells to help repair damaged tissues in the intestine has been developed by researchers which opens the way for more effective treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Nearly 3.9 million women and 3.0 million men are living with IBD worldwide. Treatments often focus on reducing the immune response in order to limit inflammation. But this hinders those parts of the immune system involved in repairing the damaged intestine. The immune system plays a variety of roles in both inflammation and tissue repair.

The study suggests migration of macrophages to damaged tissue in IBD is essential to stimulate tissue recovery. Researchers found cells able to respond to prostaglandin E2 in people with IBD. Prostaglandins are messenger molecules in the immune system associated with tissue regeneration.

Italian researchers believe macrophages are part of the reparative process in IBD patients. They increased PGE2 levels in a mouse model for ulcerative colitis, one of the main forms of IBD. This increased the number of macrophage cells that responded to prostaglandin.

If the PGE2 receptors on macrophages were knocked out, the level of tissue regeneration dropped. But it could be restored by getting the macrophage to swallow a liposome containing a substance that triggers the release of the prostaglandin. This study shows that they are also important for controlling the inflammatory effect.

Liposomes are used to jump-start the macrophages into stimulating tissue repair. This is one of the first times they have been used to produce a beneficial, therapeutic effect. A lot of work will be needed before it can be used in patients. The next step is to look in detail at human macrophage at different stages of IBD.

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