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Deciphering Immune Response to Transplants

New study could help scientists find new ways to prevent organ rejection

MONDAY, May 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A Duke University Medical Center study offers new insight into how the body attacks transplanted organs, research that could help scientists develop new methods of preventing organ rejection.

The study provides new information about the role the innate immune system -- the body's first line of defense -- plays in the rejection of transplanted lungs.

The Duke researchers found lung transplant patients with specific variants of the gene TLR4 -- which plays a major role in the lung's defense against bacterial infection -- were much less likely to suffer acute rejection of their transplanted lungs.

"Those patients with particular variants of the innate immune system gene have a sustained decrease in the frequency and severity of rejection," lead author Dr. Scott Palmer, medical director of the Duke University Medical Center Lung Transplant Program, said in a prepared statement.

"Innate immunity is critical in the lungs because the organ has to deal constantly with inhalational exposures, including infectious agents and environmental toxins," he said.

"Therefore, the lung has an incredible array of innate defenses, including immune cells with receptors like TLR4 built in to recognize and respond to foreign pathogens. Further understanding their role in transplant should greatly enhance physicians' ability to prevent and treat clinical rejection," Palmer said.

The study was presented May 24 at the American Thoracic Society's International Conference in Orlando.

More information

The Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients has more about transplants.

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, May 24, 2004
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