Volume 87 Issue 23 | p. 51 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 8, 2009

Hydrogen Peroxide Guides Immune Cells

Leukocytes are imaged rushing to an injury site in response to an H2O2 plume created by a protein called dual oxidase
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: leukocytes, hydrogen peroxide
ROAD SIGN
An H2O2 concentration gradient extending from the wounded tail fin of a zebrafish larva could be the cue that directs immune cells to the cut; red indicates high H2O2 concentration and blue represents low concentration.
Credit: PHILIPP NIETHAMMER
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ROAD SIGN
An H2O2 concentration gradient extending from the wounded tail fin of a zebrafish larva could be the cue that directs immune cells to the cut; red indicates high H2O2 concentration and blue represents low concentration.
Credit: PHILIPP NIETHAMMER

When tissue is wounded by a cut, immune cells called leukocytes rush hundreds of micrometers to the injury to defend against opportunistic pathogens attempting to start an infection at the site. But how those immune cells find the wound has long kept scientists guessing. A research team led by Philipp Niethammer and Timothy J. Mitchison of Harvard Medical School proposes that a hydrogen peroxide concentration gradient guides immune cells to the wound—at least in the zebrafish they tested but perhaps in other animals, too (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature08119). The scientists found that three minutes after they cut zebrafish tail fins, a protein called dual oxidase creates a plume of H2O2. "This is the first observation, to our knowledge, of a tissue-scale H2O2 pattern, and the first evidence that H2O2 signals to leukocytes in tissues," the researchers write. They hypothesize that the H2O2 gradient system "evolved to have two useful roles in early responses to epithelial wounding: local killing of invading bacteria and rapid recruitment of phagocytic leukocytes from distant sites."

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

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