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Hunger-spiking neurons could help treat autoimmune diseases

Washington , Tue, 26 Mar 2013 ANI

Washington, Mar 26 (ANI): Neurons that control hunger in the central nervous system also regulate immune cell functions, implicating eating behavior as a defense against infections and autoimmune disease development, a new study has found.

Autoimmune diseases have been on a steady rise in the United States.

These illnesses develop when the body's immune system turns on itself and begins attacking its own tissues.

The interactions between different kinds of T cells are at the heart of fighting infections, but they have also been linked to autoimmune disorders.

"We've found that if appetite-promoting AgRP neurons are chronically suppressed, leading to decreased appetite and a leaner body weight, T cells are more likely to promote inflammation-like processes enabling autoimmune responses that could lead to diseases like multiple sclerosis," lead author Tamas Horvath, the Jean and David W. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Research and chair of comparative medicine at Yale School of Medicine, said.

"If we can control this mechanism by adjusting eating behavior and the kinds of food consumed, it could lead to new avenues for treating autoimmune diseases," he added.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (ANI)

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