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Newly identified protein may protect the gut from infection

Category: Gastrointestinal Diseases

U.S. researchers have recently identified a signaling protein that may play an important role in fighting bacterial infection and inflammation in the intestinal tract.

The study, conducted by researchers from University of California's San Diego School of Medicine, suggests that reduced levels of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) may be an underlying cause of inflammation conditions such as Crohn's disease.

The findings may also help explain why some patients with Crohn's disease benefit from GM-CSF administration, a correlation that has been observed but not clearly understood.

In the study, the administration of GM-CSF increased dendritic cell levels, corrected the immune response and decreased symptoms of infection in lab mice with decreased levels of the protein.

"This study shows that GM-CSF has a profound influence in the regulation of cells that determine whether the gut lives in peace with inflammation, or becomes severely inflamed during infection," said lead researcher Martin Kagnoff. "Any time that delicate balance is disrupted, all heck can break loose."

Kagnoff and his colleagues believe that their findings may help scientists develop effective intestinal therapies based on the protein.

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