The Search for New Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment Targets

Modifying small white blood cells shows promise in treating immune disorders.

Modifying small white blood cells shows promise in treating immune disorders.

Researchers have potentially located a new target for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

In a study published in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, investigators found that modifying the small white blood cells that protect against disease may offer a promising immune disorder treatment. The study indicated that altering the function of B lymphocytes may regulate T lymphocyte function in disorders such as inflammatory bowel diseases.

The researchers found that gut bacteria stimulate intestinal B lymphocytes to release interleukin (IL)-10, which causes the development of regulatory T lymphocytes. These lymphocytes stop excessive inflammatory responses, which limits disease mediated by the immune system.

The signaling is partially dependent on IL-27, which is part of the IL-12 cytokine family linked with IBD.

"Our study elucidates previously unexplored intercellular signals by which gut microbiota regulate the mucosal immune system to prevent disease," lead author Yoshiyuki Mishima, MD, PhD, said in a press release. "These findings potentially could be exploited to treat patients with IBD."

B lymphocytes have previously been found to produce protective antibodies secreted into the intestine, but the contributions of B lymphocytes and secretions other than the antibodies are not well understood. A mouse model showed IL-10 and IL-27 are secreted by B lymphocytes to regulate the development of regulatory T lymphocytes.

"The work provides new insight into mechanisms by which gut bacteria drive mucosal immune homeostasis," Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology Editor-in-Chief Jerrold R. Turner, MD, PhD, AGAF, said in a press release.