Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Repel and Repair

Insight into the genetic control of the balance between immune response and cell regeneration

07 July 2022

Repel and Repair

Mustering a balanced response to unwelcome news isn’t always easy. In the body, responding to an infection with an appropriate level of outrage is key too: too little and the invader will run rampant, but an overzealous response can cause more harm than the infection itself. A study has investigated this balance in the lungs of mice. Tracking gene activity in cells of mouse lung blood vessel linings (pictured, with lining cells in green and other lung cells in red) researchers discovered two distinct cell types, ‘immune’ and ‘development’ endothelial cells, key to the immune response and subsequent regeneration respectively. Their differences in gene activity became more pronounced when responding to infection or stress, and maintaining the balance between immune defence and growth is key to successfully repelling and recovering from a threat. Being able to intervene when that balance is skewed could lead to new treatments for lung conditions.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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