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Scientists at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) have discovered a 'disarmament' mechanism that protects against the uncontrolled activity of the immune system. This newly identified immune control system is located in one of the most important cell types of the immune system, the neutrophil. The findings, published in Nature Immunology, could have major implications for the understanding and treatment of conditions such as myocardial infarction, stroke and acute inflammation.
Investigators have identified the specific genes that become overactive as a result of nerve cell infection with Japanese encephalitis virus. The genes activate cell receptors and signaling proteins that attract immune cells to the brain. The finding suggests that nerve cells may play a significant immune role against the virus, but may also be involved in exacerbating the brain inflammation that is characteristic of the infection.
The immune system uses its mitochondria to self-stimulate innate and adaptive responses to infection. Reactive oxygen species (ROS), immunogenic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and even whole mitochondria are locally mobilized in a delicate balance to create hot spots of inflammatory action. When normal limiting feedback on these processes is compromised, destructive autoimmune reactions often arise.
A broad variety of autoimmune diseases involve the development of pathogenic immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies which can attack cells and tissues and form immune complexes with the antigen to which they are directed. Immune complexes are particularly problematic as they can deposit in tissues and promote the further development of autoantibodies yet can only be removed or inhibited by invasive methods.
Inhale flu viruses after vaccination, and the body responds with an explosion of flu-fighting antibodies, courtesy of a deep-seated memory in the immune system, a response scientists are now finding relies heavily on a complex biological conversation—"crosstalk" between the immune and central nervous systems.

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