A new study has found out why the African naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) experiences no pain when exposed to acid. The African naked mole-rat is one of the most unusual mammals in the world. They live in large groups underground in dark narrow burrows where carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are extremely high. CO2 is converted into acid in body tissues, which continuously stimulates pain receptors. However, investigators of the Max DelbrÃ ck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch have discovered that African naked mole-rats have an altered ion channel in their pain sensors that is inactivated but acid and makes them insensitive to this type of pain. According to Dr. Ewan St. John Smith and Professor Gary Lewin, the animals adaptation to their extreme environment over the course of evolution is the reason for this pain insensitivity.
The association between the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis and a gene that makes certain cell surface proteins has been pinpointed to a variant amino acid in a crucial binding site that profoundly influences immune response to antigens, including gut bacteria, reports a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Cleveland Clinic, Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard Medical School. They published the findings in the online version of Genes & Immunity. Variations in genes that regulate immune responses in a region of chromosome 6 have long been linked with susceptibility for many infectious and chronic inflammatory conditions, including ulcerative colitis, said Richard H. Duerr, M.D., professor of medicine, Pitt School of Medicine, co-director and scientific director, UPMC Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, and the corresponding author of the study.
Three new locations for Crohn's Disease genes have been uncovered by scientists at UCL using a novel gene mapping approach. The complex genetic and environmental causes of Crohn's Disease (CD) have long been difficult to untangle. CD, a type of Inflammatory Bowel Disease that affects about 100 to 150 people per 100, 000 in Europe, is characterised by inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Even though twin and family studies suggest a high heritability for CD of 50-60%, so far the locations of much of the genetic information implicated in this chronic disease have remained elusive. Now, three newly identified gene regions on chromosome 16 have filled in some of the missing gaps, as well as showing that different patients carry different sets of faulty genes. Published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the findings could pave the way for personalised treatment and also lead to improved understanding of how complex diseases are inherited.
In a paper published in the December 2011 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine, a team of scientists at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign led by Rex Gaskins, PhD have demonstrated that both microbial and host inflammatory factors modulate sulfomucin production in a human cell line, LS174T, that models intestinal goblet cells. Sulfomucins, one of two primary types of acidomucins secreted by intestinal goblet cells, provide crucial protection to the intestinal mucosa. Therefore, it is not surprising that a loss of intestinal sulfomucins is associated with both inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer. However, the extent to which pathways involved in sulfomucin production are responsive to signals emanating directly from intestinal microbes or cues originating from host inflammatory cells is not known.
Here's another reason why "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" - according to new research findings published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology *, oral ingestion of apple polyphenols (antioxidants found in apple peels) can suppress T cell activation to prevent colitis in mice. This study is the first to show a role for T cells in polyphenol-mediated protection against an autoimmune disease and could lead to new therapies and treatments for people with disorders related to bowel inflammation, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and colitis-associated colorectal cancer. "Many people with colitis use some form of dietary supplement to complement conventional therapies, but most of the information on the health effects of complementary medicine remains anecdotal. Also, little is known about exactly how these therapies work, if they work at all, " said David W.