- October 16, 2016
- Posted by: emobile
- Category: Researcher's Corner
Emobileclinic Researchers Corner
The famous Journal of Cell has published the study of researchers from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) who demonstrates that an amino acid consumed through diet known as L-arginine is capable of enhancing the activity of a particular kind of immune cells, referred to as T cells.
T cells perform significant roles in the immune defense against viruses, bacteria and cancer cells. Immunologists have been attempting to regulate the activity and effectiveness of T cells to control the immune response. In attempting to find the possibility that the activity of T cells can be controlled by components in our diet, the researchers looked at the irregularities of metabolic routes in T cells upon activation.
The team used mass spectrometry-based technologies to analyze hundreds of metabolites and thousands of proteins within a cell. Following the use of this high-resolution analysis, the arginine metabolism was discovered to be a potential point for therapeutic intervention. This possibility was further investigated in the laboratory of Federica Sallusto (IRB Bellinzona) and the effort led to the discovery that orally administered L-arginine provided T cells with an increased survival capacity and a better effectiveness against tumors.
To comprehend the underlying molecular mechanism, the team collaborated with another team that developed a method for the identification of proteins that interact with metabolites. Using this approach, three proteins were identified that sense higher L-arginine levels and involve in the remodeling of T cells toward higher survival rate.
According to Roger Geiger who led the study,: “it is truly fascinating that a single metabolite can influence the properties of T cell in such a dramatic way”. Similarly, Federica Sallusto says: “we obtained proof of principle that T cells with elevated L-arginine concentrations may function better in fighting against tumors. These finding may lead to improved cellular immunotherapies”.
In his own view, Antonio Lanzavecchia: “this study demonstrates how the global analysis of proteins and metabolites in immune cells can generate hypotheses that open up new ways to enhance the immune response”.