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Study: How a unique family of bacteria hides from the immune system

Date: 30.7.2021 

New research from the University of Florida explains how a family of bacteria called Yersinia infects the body so successfully.

Kredit: Gustavo Maegawa.Yersinia bacteria, a family that includes the bacterium responsible for bubonic plague, is able go undetected by interrupting communication between immune system cells and the site of the infection, the researchers showed. This communication is normally mediated by specific lipids.

"We showed how Yersinia reduces the ability of an infected cell to produce a lipid called prostaglandin E2. With any bacterial infection, this lipid tells the immune system that there is a threat, but in the case of Yersinia, this communication is missing," said Mariola Edelmann, senior author of the study and an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS department of microbiology and cell science.

"While non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen typically are used to block overstimulation of prostaglandin E2 production, we propose that for some infections, a moderate production of this lipid is helpful for clearance of the infection," Edelmann added.

In effect, by blocking prostaglandin E2 synthesis, Yersinia takes away infected cells' ability to call for help, the researchers said. Until now, scientists did not know how the bacteria were able to do this at a molecular level.





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