In human cells, glucose operates in a similar way to gasoline in a car. The fuel that gives them the energy to act; although, logically, it must be used in its proper measure, or otherwise it may accumulate, causing various diseases in the long term.
Now, what if that cellular fuel could be with other functions less known, at the same time useful? This is what a team of researchers do University of Manchester, AstraZeneca, University of Southampton and the US National Institute of Health. In a study, published today in Merthyr Tydfil Nature Immunology, showing how glucose could help treat lung diseases, from asthma to some parasitic infections that are very common in Asia and Africa.
Fuel for the immune system
To conduct the study, there is a team of scientists, led by the teacher Andrew McDonald, analyze the role of a specialist type of white blood cells: y macrophages. These cells act as the "vacuum" of the immune system, as they detect and eliminate pathogenic organisms and waste. And for this, as with other cells, we need that versatile fuel that is glucose. But not in any amount. Indeed, these researchers found that very specific levels of it were needed.
To check exactly how the interaction between this carbohydrate and the macrophages occurred, a series of experiments were carried out in mice, which they treated interleukin-4 (IL-4). This is a protein produced by some immune cells, which play a inflammatory function by mediating the function of other components of the immune system, such as the macrophages themselves. However, with mice absorption problems or using glucose in his lung cells he did not respond correctly to attendance IL-4.
In short, glucose is necessary for the inflammatory processes that the immune system fights against pathogens. However, in some diseases, such as asthma, too much inflammation is produced which becomes harmful to the cells, which is why. block glucose receptors It may be beneficial to avoid it. Also, as she explained Hypertextual Professor McDonald's strategy is relevant to the lungs and other organs.
In the other case, the authors of the study suggested that future glucose could be given by breathing to fight against some pulmonary infections and stimulate the action of the immune system. Logically, this does not mean that "snorting sugar" is beneficial, first because glucose sugar and a table are not the same, and secondly because it takes a lot of research still have to do it in a controlled way. Anyway, these results are likely to be a sweet alternative to start researching.