Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Inflammatory Fuse
22 January 2012

Inflammatory Fuse

An explosion of activity in white blood cells prevents inflammation from causing damage inside the spleen. Here, mouse cells have been genetically engineered to make a green glow-in-the-dark protein when they produce acetylcholine – a chemical that interferes with the inflammatory process. The fuse wire for this particular explosion is a splenic nerve (seen here in red). While many other nerves can produce acetylcholine, splenic nerve cells cannot. Instead, they grow tendrils to connect to nearby white blood cells, which can. When the nerve is activated, the white blood cells start to glow bright green. The researchers believe that targeting these white blood cells could help in the treatment of many diseases caused by excessive inflammation.

Written by Charles Harvey

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