Calcium Signals Balance Infection Response & Potential for Self-attack
According to a study by the NYU Langone Medical Center at the New York University School of Medicine and published in the journal Immunity, a key cellular signal provides a vital balance between the body’s ability to destroy invading microbes and its need to prevent autoimmune disease. The study was conducted with both mice and human patients where the researchers found a certain type of calcium-based signal-regulated the production of two immune cell types.
“We found that calcium signals play a vital role in keeping the immune system finely balanced, ramping responses up and down at the appropriate time,” said the senior author of the study. “Future applications of our findings may include fine-tuning calcium signals to enhance immune responses to influenza vaccines for the elderly, or the design of new options for patients with chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Our results also are timely because the field is currently exploring whether a drug class called CRAC calcium channel inhibitors can be useful in the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Researchers will need to weigh carefully the potential benefits against the possibility that these drugs interfere with our ability to fight infections.”
Interestingly, the study found that one type of calcium influx – store operated calcium entry (SOCE) – ramps immune responses up and down by controlling the “decision” by immune cells to become either T follicular helper, or T follicular regulatory, cells. Along with helping in the autoimmune response, these T- helper follicular cells also help produce “auto” antibodies that recognize the body’s own cells as foreign and attack them. This is why the calcium signals are necessary to balance the response.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.