Association found between gut immune cells and eye damage from glaucoma

Association found between gut immune cells and eye damage from glaucoma

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We’ve all been there – the dreaded annual eye test, wondering what the doctor will discover. It’s no secret that our eyesight can deteriorate with age, but could the same be said for something as severe as glaucoma? A team of scientists from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China have recently made a breakthrough discovery that could offer a better understanding of how glaucoma is caused and potentially pave the way for the development of more effective treatments.

The research conducted by the team investigated the behavior of CD4+ T cells, a type of white blood cell responsible for orchestrating various immune system responses, and the protein integrin β7. Studies have long shown that T cells may play a role in the damage caused by glaucoma, however the exact connection remained unknown. The team’s analysis of 519 patient samples found that those with higher levels of CD4+ T cells experienced more damage to their eyes.

When mice were investigated, the scientists found an extra layer of complexity. CD4+ T cells in the gut of the mice expressed integrin β7, which acts as a bridge that allows the cells to access the retina, and consequently attack the retinal ganglion cells. By administering the mice with antibodies that blocked the interaction between T cells and protein MAdCAM-1, the inflammation in the eye and damage to the retina was reduced.

Through this investigation, the team has been able to not only link gut immune cells to glaucoma damage, but also highlight how important the immune system can be in this condition. The research allows us to gain a better understanding of the cause of the disease and, with further investigation, could even give us the power to develop treatments to effectively halt the deterioration.

The implications are clear: this breakthrough could be a game-changer for future generations of glaucoma patients. While there’s still a long road ahead towards successful treatments, this discovery sheds some much needed light on the process

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