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Lungs enlist immune cells to fight infections in capillaries

Neutrophils are quick in combatting bloodstream pathogens, study in mice finds

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3:01pm, April 28, 2017
neutrophils

ON TRACK  Neutrophils (red) crawl along the walls of capillaries in a mouse lung (tracks shown in blue). In mice deficient in a key protein, these immune cells couldn’t move as far (left) as those in mice that had the protein (right).

Immune cells in the lungs provide a rapid counterattack to bloodstream infections, a new study in mice finds. This surprising discovery pegs the lungs as a major pillar in the body’s defense during these dangerous infections, the researchers say.

“No one would have guessed the lung would provide such an immediate and strong host defense system,” says Bryan Yipp, an immunologist at the University of Calgary in Canada. Yipp and his colleagues report their findings online April 28 in Science Immunology.

The work may offer ways to target and adjust our own immune defense system for infections, says Yipp. “Currently, we only try to kill the bacteria, but we are running out of antibiotics because of resistance.”

The research uncovers some of the mechanisms that drive the rapid activation of neutrophils, says immunologist Andrew Gelman of Washington

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