Friday, March 23, 2007

News dump: inflammation

I've been collecting news stories on a variety of interesting topics, but don't quite have the time to discuss all of them right away. So what I'll do is put up the list with short summaries. And hope to come back with more details later. It's sort of like spring cleaning time.

First up: inflammation. It's one of the still not well understood "features" of our complex immune system.

Inflammation and cancer

February 20, 2007 – Antibody signal may redirect inflammation to fuel cancer
The body's normally protective inflammation response can drive some precancerous tissues to become fully malignant. The inflammation apparently stimulates B cells to send signals that trigger progams for stimulating cancerous cell growth and increased blood supply to tumors.

January 25, 2007 – Molecular Link Between Inflammation And Cancer Discovered
There is much evidence that chronic inflammation can promote cancer, but the cause of this relationship is poorly understood. New research shows a linkage, involving the protein called p100, between cellular pathways for response to infection and cellular growth.

December 21, 2006 – What Cures Your Aches Might Prevent Cancer: Seeking To Prevent Cancer Using Anti-inflammatory Medication
Some of the same biological processes that cause inflammation may also be involved in developing cancer. This suggests investigating whether drugs that prevent inflammation also serve to lessen the risk of cancer. Attention is focused on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin.

April 4, 2006 – Inflammation and Drugs to Control this Activity Studied in a Variety of Tumor Sites
Several studies presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research show a relationship between chronic inflammation and cancer. The COX-2 enzyme, produced as part of the inflammatory response, seems to be associated with development of some types of cancer. Drugs that inhibit COX-2 (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may also inhibit cancer.

March 29, 2006 – Studies link cancer, inflammatory disease
The tumor necrosis factor (TNF) protein, which is involved in an inflammatory response, normally promotes death of damaged or infected cells, but overproduction can lead to automimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. TNF may also stimulate production of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) protein, which may lead to tumor growth. So drugs that inhibit excessive TNF production may help inhibit cancer.

Inflammation and cardiovascular disease

March 4, 2007 – Treatment For Gum Disease Could Also Help The Heart
Periodontitis is a common inflammatory disease of the gums, caused by bacterial infection of gum tissue. This clinical trial is the first to demonstrate that relief of inflammation in the mouth, through intensive treatment of periodontitis, results in improved function of the arteries. The mechanism by which periodontitis affects endothelial function in the body is still uncertain. The periodontitis might trigger a low grade inflammatory response throughout the body that has a detrimental effect on the vascular wall.

February 22, 2007 – C-Reactive Protein Liver Protein Induces Hypertension, Researchers Find
Research with genetically engineered mice has shown that artificially elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), normally a marker of inflammation, lead directly to higher blood pressures. It was found that the initiating mechanism is a lack of the nitric oxide in the artery wall. The lack of nitric oxide affected proteins responsible for activity of angiotensin II, which regulates blood pressure via arterial constriction.

December 30, 2006 – Inflammatory Genes Linked To Salt-sensitive Hypertension
Inflammation, a part of the immune response implicated in diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, may also help translate stress into high blood pressure. When stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, the body increases production of interleukin 6, a pro-inflammatory factor, which ultimately leads to production of other inflammatory factors such as C reactive protein. There is evidence suggesting that in salt-sensitive hypertension there are increased levels of inflammation factors such as interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein.

May 5, 2006 – Periodontitis May Increase C-reactive Protein Levels In Pregnancy
Pregnant women with periodontitis had 65 percent higher C-reactive protein (CRP) levels compared to periodontally healthy women. CRP levels are a marker of systemic inflammation and are associated with periodontal disease. CRP could amplify the inflammatory response. Alternatively, periodontal disease and CRP may share a common risk factor for predisposing individuals to a hyperinflammatory response.

Inflammation and obesity

February 19, 2007 – Obesity Finding: Chemical Pathway Causes Mice To Overeat And Gain Weight
"Knockout" mice bred to lack what is known as an E3 receptor cannot process prostaglandin E2, which is normally produced in the context of inflammation. Such mice, apparently as a consequence, do not develop a fever response. They also tend to overeat and accumulate body fat. It may be that an inability to respond to inflammation inhibits mechanisms which would otherwise control overeating.

April 10, 2006 – Research Provides Clues To Obesity's Cause And Hints Of New Approach For Curbing Appetite
New research suggests obesity is due at least in part to an attraction between leptin, the hormone that signals the brain when to stop eating, and C-reactive protein, which has been associated with heart disease. CRP not only binds to leptin but it impairs leptin's role in controlling appetite. Since fat cells produce CRP, these results may help explain why obese people have so much trouble controlling appetite and losing weight.

March 10, 2006 – Research Shows Fat Fuels Inflammation Killer
The protein sE-selectin is produced in response to inflammation in the walls of arteries. It is measured in greater amounts in people who have higher levels of body fat, indicating a higher level of inflammation in their arteries. It is known that such inflammation can directly trigger thrombosis, heart disease, strokes and diabetes.

September 16, 2005 – First Link Found Between Obesity, Inflammation And Vascular Disease
This research shows that human fat cells produce C-reactive protein (CRP), which is linked to both inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It would explain why higher levels of CRP are measured in overweight individuals, and why such individuals have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems. This study is the first to show how body fat participates in the inflammatory process that leads to cardiovascular disease.

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