Scientists from Ireland, America, and the UK have discovered a molecule called itaconate that could help naturally reduce inflammation in the body. Study authors hope this finding will help doctors create more effective anti-inflammatory medications in the near future.
Researchers gathered at Dublin’s Trinity College to conduct this study on both human cells and groups of mice. They soon discovered that pro-inflammatory immune cells called macrophages, which are often the main cause of inflammatory diseases, produced itaconate after they were given a bit of glucose. Itaconate, in turn, was shown to dramatically reduce inflammation in the mice models.
According to this data, doctors could potentially create new drugs that use glucose to get macrophages to produce more itaconate. Researchers are hopeful these new drugs will have less of an adverse effect on patients’ immune systems.
In their article, researchers said they are looking forward to researching this intriguing process in the ensuing years. Study authors also said they would be looking into ways of using this information in the creation of new anti-inflammatory drugs.
Overactive macrophages are the root cause of most inflammatory diseases like arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. Some doctors even believe there’s a correlation between heightened macrophage production and psychological disorders like major depression.
The most common way doctors treat inflammatory diseases nowadays is with steroidal drugs. Unfortunately, these drugs have been shown to wreak havoc on a patient’s immune system.
Besides Trinity College, a few other organizations involved in this research include the University of Oxford, GlaxoSmithKline, and Harvard University. Major funders of this study include the European Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.
Trinity College’s Luke O’Neill and the University of Cambridge’s Mike Murphy were the lead authors on this study. A few other prominent names involved in this research include the University of Dundee’s Dina Dikovskaya and Harvard Medical School’s Mark P. Jedrychowski.
This groundbreaking study was published in the magazine Nature under the title “Itaconate is an anti-inflammatory metabolite that activates Nrf2 via alkylation of KEAP1.”