RCSI researchers discover new way to halt excessive inflammation

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Credit: Patrick Bolger

DUBLIN, Friday, 5 March 2021: RCSI researchers have discovered a new way to ‘put the brakes’ on excessive inflammation by regulating a type of white blood cell that is critical for our immune system.

The discovery has the potential to protect the body from unchecked damage caused by inflammatory diseases.

The paper, led by researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is published in Nature Communications.

When immune cells (white blood cells) in our body called macrophages are exposed to potent infectious agents, powerful inflammatory proteins known as cytokines are produced to fight the invading infection. However, if these cytokine levels get out of control, significant tissue damage can occur.

The researchers have found that a protein called Arginase-2 works through the energy source of macrophage cells, known as mitochondria, to limit inflammation. Specifically they have shown for the first time that Arginase-2 is critical for decreasing a potent inflammatory cytokine called IL-1.

This discovery could allow researchers to develop new treatments that target the Arginase-2 protein and protect the body from unchecked damage caused by inflammatory diseases.

“Excessive inflammation is a prominent feature of many diseases such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases. Through our discovery, we may be able to develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory disease and ultimately improve the quality of life for people with these conditions,” commented senior author on the paper Dr Claire McCoy, Senior Lecturer in Immunology at RCSI.

The study was led by researchers at the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, RCSI (Dr Claire McCoy, Dr Jennifer Dowling and Ms Remsha Afzal) in collaboration with a network of international researchers from Australia, Germany, and Switzerland.

The research was funded by Science Foundation Ireland, with initial stages of the research originating from a grant from the National Health Medical Research Council, Australia.

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About RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

Ranked number one globally for Good Health and Well-being in the Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings 2020, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is an international not-for-profit university, with its headquarters in Dublin.

RCSI is exclusively focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. It is among the top 250 universities worldwide in the World University Rankings (2021) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. RCSI has been awarded Athena Swan Bronze accreditation for positive gender practice in higher education.

Visit the RCSI MyHealth Expert Directory to find the details of our experts across a range of healthcare issues and concerns. Recognising their responsibility to share their knowledge and discoveries to empower people with information that leads them to better health, these clinicians and researchers are willing to engage with the media in their area of expertise.

For more information, please contact:

Jane Butler, Senior Communications Officer, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences
[email protected] | +353 87 7531877

Media Contact
Jane Butler
[email protected]

Related Journal Article

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21617-2

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