Scientists have once again proved that narcolepsy, a lifelong neurological sleep disorder, is an autoimmune disease. Experts have doubted him for many years, but recently there was no real evidence.
The first missing link came last year, when scientists noticed that blood samples from narcolepsy patients contained autoimmune cells. These automatic cells, known as CD4 T cells, focused on the healthy neurons of the body itself in the hypothalamus – the same ones that produce hypocretin (aka orexin), a protein that regulates strike.
At the time, this was considered the first real proof that narcolepsy was an autoimmune disease. Previously, it was widely acknowledged that narcolepsy patients did not have hypocretin and that they shared genes with other autoimmune patients.
But for everything, there was no clear biological reason. Now, half a year later, two offenders are trapped by scientists – and, like Bonnie and Clyde, they are more destructive together.
"To kill other cells … Normally CD4 and CD8 cells work together," says Birgitte Rahbek Kornum, a neuroscientist at the University of Copenhagen.
"In 2018, scientists received CD4 automatic T4 cells in narcolepsy patients … Now we have provided more important proofs: that CD8 cells are also inactive."
When blood samples were analyzed from 20 patients with narcolepsy, the new research found a significantly higher number of CD8 T cells than in the 52 fitness controls. In fact, almost all patients with narcolepsy showed CD8 T. cells presence.
Also, while some healthy people have had automatic cells, the authors say they were just lying, waiting to start them.
"We got automatic cells of cytotoxic cells T8 in narcolepsy patients," explains Rahbek Kornum.
"That is, the cells of neurons that produce hypocretin that regulate a state of human flush recognize. It does not prove that the neurons have killed the neurons, but it is an important step forward. Now we know what the cells are after that. "
Scientists are not really sure what causes narcolepsy – a disorder that is over-sleeping throughout the day – but there is a lot of doubt that there is a combination of genetics and environmental stimulation for automatic cells. When stimulated, the latter can throw the immune system out of the hunt, attacking a healthy tissue.
The trigger can be as simple as the flu virus or even the vaccination. Recently, in fact, CD4 T cells were found to be responding to the H1N1 influenza strain from 2009 and 2010. This was the year on swine flu, followed by a three-fold increase in narcolepsy incidence in China. .
But while T4 cells can infiltrate the brain and cause inflammation, the authors consider this to be the beginning of the narcolepsy process. Ultimately, T8 CD8 cells are cytotoxic, which means that they can kill the neurons that produce hypocretin.
"Therefore, while T4 automatic CD4 cells may start the disease process," the authors explain, "we are hypothesising that the development of unique CD8 T cells may be necessary for real t [narcolepsy]. "
That is not to say that CD8 T cells are more important. Indeed, the authors believe that they may even feel CD4 T cells to function properly.
Of course, there is a lot of research that needs to be done before we can truly understand this debilitating condition. But with new goals to receive treatment, the new research could have a huge impact.
"Now it is likely that there will be more emphasis on dealing with narcolepsy with drugs relieving the immune system," says Rahbek Kornum.
"However, this has been attempted because the hypothesis is that it has been an autoimmune disease for many years. But now that we know that it is T-cell driven, we can start to focus and making immune treatments more effective and precise. "
This study was published in 2006 Nature Communications.
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