“Red hot” discovery by Jefferies Lab

A new finding by UBC Centre for Blood Research scientist Wilf Jefferies and his collaborators, demonstrates that T-Lymphocytes, a type of immune cell that learns to recognize and attack microbial pathogens and cancer, are activated by the TRPV1 pain receptor. The study entitle “TRPV1 channel regulates CD4+ T cell activation and pro-inflammatory properties” was published in Nature Immunology, Bertin et al. 2014  and demonstrates that TRPV1 channels  are expressed in T-lymphocytes, where they are involved in gating the influx of calcium ions required for immune  activation.  These results demonstrate that TRPV1 has a function outside the sensory functions of the brain. Furthermore,  TRPV1 helps regulate intestinal inflammation in mammals and the data shows that the activity of TRPV1 can be manipulated, offering the potential  to modify T-lymphocytes response as needed for promoting health. This research may have practical applications in improving immune responses against viral pathogens such as HIV and Ebola virus and also against tumours such as breast and prostate cancers. These findings may also lead to methods combat autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and arthritis.