Naturally produced protein reduces inflammatory disease

inflammationA study, published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has indicated how much inflammation contributes to inflammatory disease. The scientists used a naturally produced protein, called tristetraprolin (TTP), to reduce and protect against inflammation.

The researchers genetically altered the TTP gene in mice so that the animals produced higher levels of the TTP protein. Experimental models of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis were used to test the processes involved in inflammatory disease.

“Mice with more TTP in their bodies were resistant to the inflammation that accompanied these experimental models of disease,” Blackshear said. “We also found evidence of how TTP is providing this protection.”

TTP provided protective benefits by targeting messenger molecules that encode cytokines. Cytokines are involved in inflammation and TTP binds to these molecules and destabilizes them, resulting in lower levels of cytokines and, thus, decreased inflammation.

“Many current therapies for these inflammatory diseases are expensive and require the medicines be introduced into the body under the skin, in the muscle, or by intravenous injection,” said Sonika Patial, D.V.M., Ph.D., a research fellow in Blackshear’s research group and lead author on the paper. “Our ideal treatments would be administered orally in pill or liquid form.”

Inflammation fosters chronic diseases, many of which are increasing in prevalence and severity. The development of new therapies for treating inflammatory diseases could greatly reduce the growing public health burden.


Enhanced stability of tristetraprolin mRNA protects mice against immune-mediated inflammatory pathologies, Sonika Patiala, Alan D. Curtis, Wi S. Lai, Deborah J. Stumpo, Georgette D. Hill, Gordon P. Flake, Mark D. Mannie, and Perry J. Blackshear, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1519906113, published online 1 February 2016.

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