A protein called MIF–short for macrophage migration inhibitory factor–plays a central role in the process of inflammation. Researchers now report that MIF's actions extend to the intestines. Their findings suggest that the protein perpetuates the chronic inflammation that characterizes Crohn's disease, a painful gut disorder.
In a series of experiments, the scientists induced mice to develop intestinal inflammation, or colitis. While not identical to Crohn's disease in people, this mouse ailment closely mimics it, says study coauthor Cox Terhorst of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. By giving mice antibodies to MIF, the researchers were able to prevent the disease from setting in and even reverse it in mice that alr