Medical Research News
Scientists working at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research have shown that environmental factors can influence the development of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.
A team led by Dr Brigitta Stockinger has identified a molecular mechanism that links a wide range of environmental factors to the autoimmune reactions in which immune system cells attack body tissue. The results are published online in Nature.
The research focused on a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). Activation of the AhR causes enzymes to be produced that are involved in reducing the toxic effect of a wide range of chemicals on the human body. Many of these, such as dioxin, are generated in industrial processes. The research found that stimulation of AhR by environmental factors could be involved in development of autoimmune disease.