Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Cell Culture
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Hormone Plays Surprise Role in Fighting Skin Infections

Published: Friday, May 25, 2012
Last Updated: Friday, May 25, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Previously associated with calcium homeostasis, hormone now found to hold critical role in boosting AMP expression.

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are molecules produced in the skin to fend off infection-causing microbes. Vitamin D has been credited with a role in their production and in the body's overall immune response, but scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say a hormone previously associated only with maintaining calcium homeostasis and bone health is also critical, boosting AMP expression when dietary vitamin D levels are inadequate.

The finding, published in Wednesday's (May 23) online issue of Science Translational Medicine, more fully explains how the immune system functions in different situations and presents a new avenue for treating infections, perhaps as an alternative to current antibiotic therapies.

The immunological benefits of vitamin D are controversial. In cultured cell studies, the fat-soluble vitamin provides strong immunological benefits, but in repeated studies with humans and animal models, results have been inconsistent: People with low levels of dietary vitamin D do not suffer more infections. For reasons unknown, their immune response generally remains strong, undermining the touted immunological strength of vitamin D.

Working with a mouse model and cultured human cells, Gallo and colleagues discovered why: When levels of dietary vitamin D are low (it's naturally present in very few foods), production of parathyroid hormone (PTH), which normally helps modulate calcium levels in blood, is ramped up. More PTH or a related peptide called PHTrP spurs increased expression of AMPs, such as cathelicidin, which kill a broad spectrum of harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses.

"No one suspected a role for PTH or the PTH-related peptide in immunity," said Richard L. Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and chief of UC San Diego's Division of Dermatology and the Dermatology section of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. "This may help resolve some of the controversy surrounding vitamin D. It fills in the blanks."

For example, the findings relate to the ongoing debate over sun exposure. Sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been claimed in some studies to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, but other studies have failed to confirm this. On the other hand, high levels of solar exposure that could increase vitamin D have been shown to increase the risk of skin cancer.

"Since sunlight is a carcinogen, it's a bad idea to get too much of it," said Gallo. "PTH goes up when levels of vitamin D from diet and sun exposure are low. PTH may be what permits us to have low D in the diet and not kill ourselves with too much UV radiation."

Gallo said PTH's newly revealed immunological role provides a new connection between the body's endocrine system (a system of glands secreting different regulatory hormones into the bloodstream) and its ability to fight invasive, health-harming pathogens.

While much more work remains to be done, including human studies, it's possible that PTH or PTHrP might eventually become an effective antibiotic treatment without the risk of antibiotic resistance in targeted microbes. One challenge would be how to specifically limit treatment to the targeted infection. "Maybe that could be done by developing the therapy as a cream," Gallo said.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Scientists Discover Neurochemical Imbalance in Schizophrenia
Researchers discovers that neurons from schizophrenia patients secrete higher amounts of three neurotransmitters.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Scientific News
Women’s Immune System Genes Operate Differently from Men’s
A new technology reveals that immune system genes switch on and off differently in women and men, and the source of that variation is not primarily in the DNA.
DNA Damage Seen in Patients Undergoing CT Scanning
Along with the burgeoning use of advanced medical imaging tests over the past decade have come rising public health concerns about possible links between low-dose radiation and cancer.
Yeast Cells Use Signaling Pathway to Modify Their Genomes
Researchers at the Babraham Institute and Cambridge Systems Biology Centre, University of Cambridge have shown that yeast can modify their genomes to take advantage of an excess of calories in the environment and attain optimal growth.
New Material Forges the Way for 'Stem Cell Factories'
Researchers have discovered the first fully synthetic substrate with potential to grow billions of stem cells. The researchcould forge the way for the creation of 'stem cell factories' - the mass production of human embryonic (pluripotent) stem cells.
New Measurements Reveal Differences Between Stem Cells for Treating Retinal Degeneration
By growing two types of stem cells in a “3-D culture” and measuring their ability to produce retinal cells, a team lead by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital researchers has found one cell type to be better at producing retinal cells.
Researchers Identify Critical Genes Responsible for Brain Tumor Growth
After generating new brain tumor models scientists have identified the role of a family of genes underlying tumor growth in a wide spectrum of high grade brain tumors.
Growing Spinal Disc Tissue
Scientists develop new method for growing spinal disc tissue in the lab for combating chronic back pain.
A New Path Towards a Universal Flu Vaccine
New research suggests it may be possible to harness a previously unknown mechanism within the immune system to create more effective and efficient vaccines against this ever-mutating virus.
Potential New Class of Cancer Drugs
Scientists have found a way to stop cancer cell growth by targeting the Warburg Effect, a trait of cancer cell metabolism that scientists have been eager to exploit.
Human Trials of Manufactured Blood Within Two Years
The first human trials of lab-produced blood to help create better-matched blood for patients with complex blood conditions has been announced by NHS Blood and Transplant.
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!