Sick and Happy Takes on New Meaning

by on March 17, 2009
in general

I am going to be the first ever to blog about the negative effects of happiness in CF.  The following is an excerpt from an article from Stanford Medicine, published yesterday (the emphasis is mine).  In brief, the article reports the discovery of an exaggerated white blood cell response to inflammatory signals leading to lung destruction in CF lungs:

So what are the live neutrophils doing in patients’ lungs? The new findings surprised Tirouvanziam’s team. After collecting fresh neutrophils from cystic fibrosis patients’ sputum and analyzing them with fluorescence-activated cell sorting, the team discovered that signals from the patients’ lung tissue were reprogramming live neutrophils with conflicting messages. The first set of signals switches on what Tirouvanziam calls “an ancient happiness pathway” — a chain of commands that tell the neutrophils that nutrients are plentiful, and that it’s a good time to translate the cell’s library of genes into new protein. The second pathway is a cellular alarm system associated with inflammation and stress.

“They’re receiving a lot of signals at same time, and we think the happiness signals are messing them up completely,” Tirouvanziam said.

His team now suspects the inappropriate activation of the “happiness signal” — the molecular target of rapamycin, or mTOR, cell signaling pathway — may trigger neutrophils to release large quantities of human neutrophil elastase, the enzyme that destroys the elastic fiber of lung tissue. In healthy individuals, neutrophils never release destructive human neutrophil elastase into nearby tissue.

So maybe Sick and Happy should now be called Sick because I’m Too Happy????

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