Antibody-producing B cells promote atherosclerosis in mice, according to a study to be published online on July 5th in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (www.jem.org) These findings came as a surprise, as prior studies had suggested that B cells help protect against the disease.
An international team of researchers, led by Ziad Mallat of the Paris Cardiovascular Research Center and the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Cambridge, found that getting rid of B cells protected against atherosclerosis in mice. The protective effect was attributed to the increased production of an immune protein called interleukin-17, which was previously shown to hamper atherosclerosis in mice. Additional work is needed to understand how interleukin-17 interferes with the development of atherosclerotic lesions.
These findings raise the possibility that B cell-depleting drugs, currently used to treat patients with inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, may also reduce their risk of atherosclerosis.
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The Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM) is published by The Rockefeller University Press. All editorial decisions on manuscripts submitted are made by active scientists in conjunction with our in-house scientific editors. JEM content is posted to PubMed Central, where it is available to the public for free six months after publication. Authors retain copyright of their published works and third parties may reuse the content for non-commercial purposes under a creative commons license. For more information, please visit www.jem.org.
Ait-Oufella, H., et al. 2010. J. Exp. Med. doi:10.1084/jem.20100155.
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