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Protective Partnership

Protein of the immune system called interleukin-11 protects gut lining in colitis

24 March 2023

Protective Partnership

If a house on your street was attacked, would you join forces with your neighbours to repair the damage and fend off the intruders? That, it seems, is what two cell types in your gut do. The intestine lining faces a constant barrage of physical forces and biological material, so regular maintenance and repairs are essential. Researchers investigating this regulation, and how inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis arise when it goes wrong, looked at the role of interleukin-11, a product of the immune system. Without it, colitis in mice worsened and more cells of the gut lining died. Interleukin-11 (green, present in damaged areas of tissue) is produced by connective cells called fibroblasts, but the researchers found that other immune cells also regulate its levels by releasing highly reactive molecules. Interleukin-11 protects the lining during inflammation, and the collaboration that produces it must be considered in any potential treatments.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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