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New warning system discovered in the immune defense

New warning system discovered in the immune defense

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown warning system that contributes to the body's immune system. Mitochondria in the white blood cells secrete a web of DNA fibres that raises the alarm.

White blood cells are major components of the body's immune defence, and the research group has shown that several types of these cells react against small DNA fragments thatare similar to the DNA from bacteria and viruses. The white blood cells spray out a web consisting of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) strands. Mitochondria are present in all cells and normally produce the energy needed by the cell, by burning sugar and fat to form water and carbon dioxide.

The web that the mitochondria release sends signals to the surrounding cells that the body is under attack, and cause other white blood cells to release a signal substance known as "interferon type 1". This substance helps the immune system to combat the infection.

The discovery raises the possibility of further studies in which we will try to reduce the release of mtDNA, and in this way reduce the inflammation that it causes.

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