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publicado em 16/04/2013 às 10h28:00
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Protein extracted from the seed of jackfruit stimulates the immune system

Researchers believe that the same method can be used to combat other infectious diseases and tumors

 
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Foto: Miriamala
Researchers tested a lectin extracted from jackfruit seed called ArtinM
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Researchers tested a lectin extracted from jackfruit seed called ArtinM

An experimental therapy done with the lectin protein was able to stimulate the immune system and increase resistance against diseases such as leishmaniasis, toxoplasmosis and paracoccidioidomycosis. The researchers believe the same method can be used to combat other infectious diseases and tumors.

The study is conducted at the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, by Professor Maria Cristina Roque Antunes Barreira. She investigates the role of lectins (proteins able to decode the information contained in the layer of cells that lines sugars) in immunity.

To unravel the mechanisms of recognition of sugar on the surface of immune cells, the researchers tested a lectin extracted from jackfruit seed called ArtinM in a cell line of the human immune system.

Lectin molecules have a specialized region to bind to a specific type of sugar and thereby trigger certain responses in the cell, which may be of proliferation, migration, cell death or production of chemical mediators explained.

The researchers observed that the action of ArtinM on immune cells was related to the stimulation of production of interleukin 12, a cytokine able to activate a type of defense cell called T lymphocyte helper 1 (TH1). Then, we tested the effect of protein in two animal models. In the first, mice were infected with the protozoan Leishmania major, which causes cutaneous leishmaniasis.

"In these animals, the ArtinM induced the production of interleukin 12, making them more resistant to infection, said Roque-Barreira.

In the second case, mice were infected with the fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis causes paracoccidioidomycosis, an endemic disease that causes pulmonary fibrosis and may attack other organs. In this model, administration of ArtinM animals also became more resistant to infection.

We saw that this lectin binds to sugars of the type receptors toll-like 2 (TLR2), which exist in large numbers on the surface of phagocytes. This triggers a signal which stimulates the cell to produce interleukin 12.

To confirm the findings, the researchers worked with mice that had the gene encoding TLR2 receptor knocked out. We observe, indeed, that without TLR2, ArtinM the leaves to induce the production of interleukin 12, said.

Interleukin 12 is investigated in other pathogens

The therapeutic application of lectin extracted from the seed of jackfruit in humans is limited according to Roque-barrier because the protein foreign to the organism, could trigger an unwanted immune reaction. Scientists then decided to investigate whether the actual disease causing pathogens also express lectins can stimulate the production of interleukin 12.

In fungus P. brasiliensis researchers found to paracoccina, a lectin capable of binding to a sugar called N-acetyl-glucosamine.

Already in Toxoplasma gondii, the protozoan that causes toxoplasmosis, found that protein molecules called linkers are micronemes sugar and have properties very similar to ArtinM. Two of these proteins, MIC1 and MIC4 have the ability to recognize, respectively, sialic acid and galactose - sugars that may be expressed on the surface of immune cells, said barrier.

In vitro tests showed that both paracoccina as MIC1 and MIC4 also interact with the receptors TLR2 and induce production of interleukin 12. The next step was to test the effect in vivo.

For this, we used two experimental models: mice infected with P. brasiliensis and mice infected with T. gondii.

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lecithin jackfruit    ArtinM    leishmaniasis    toxoplasmosis    paracoccidioidomycosis    Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto USP   
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