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Treatment Found to Effectively Reduce Inflammation

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 03 Oct 2012
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Recent research has found additional evidence that a simple solution, which is already used in intravenous drips, is an effective treatment for reducing inflammation.

The researchers also identified that hypertonic solution can ease inflammation purely through bathing in it--validating that the Victorians were correct to visit spa villages to “take the waters” for disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis.

The research team, led by Dr. Pablo Pelegrin, from the University of Manchester (UK), was examining how cell swelling can regulate inflammation; the immune system’s first response to injury or infection. They discovered that white blood cells (WBCs) swell in a similar way to how tissue swells around a wound. The investigators then went on to look at what causes the swelling.

The researchers injected solutions with low ions into mice. They discovered that these solutions acted as a danger signal, causing cells to swell. The swelling then activates a group of proteins called NLRP3, which then release inflammatory mediators. These trigger neighboring cells to increase inflammation. However, when a hypertonic solution was administered to the mouse, it drew the water out of the cells shrinking them back to their original size. This in turn deactivated the signal for inflammation.

Dr Pelegrin’s research provides further evidence for the use of hypertonic fluid therapy for the reduction of inflammation in the brain, a treatment that can reduce the amount of damage caused by disorders such as stroke and epilepsy. His team has been able to show for the first time why the solution works at a molecular level.

Dr. Pelegrin said, “Hypertonic solutions have been used in the treatment of stroke for many years. Clinicians have found that their use not only reduces brain swelling, but also alleviates brain inflammation. However, because there wasn’t a molecular target for hypertonic solutions there has been a lot of debate about the clinical effect. Here we have identified a target for hypertonic solutions by blocking the NLRP3 inflammasome which triggers inflammatory mediators at a molecular level.”

The investigators also looked at the benefits of hypertonic solutions when used outside of the body. They soaked bandages in the solution before using them on the legs of mice. They also evaluated bathing the inflamed area in a hypertonic solution, and in both cases, the inflammation was reduced. It appears the hypertonic solution produces an osmotic gradient through the skin, which clarifies why hot springs, which have a hypertonic composition, can ease the pain of ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Vincent Compan worked with Dr. Pelegrin on this research in the faculty of life sciences. He remarked, “This research opens up exciting opportunities for the use of hypertonic solution as a treatment for inflammatory illnesses such as arthritis. What we’ve identified has the potential to be used to help so many patients.”

Another aspect of the investigators’ research identified that the signaling process to activate inflammation is one of the oldest evolutionary mechanisms. The researchers found that the same mechanism of cell swelling causes NLRP3 inflammasome activation in fish as well as mammals, meaning that it is one of oldest responses in the body leading to inflammation.

The research was published in the September 2012 issue of the journal Immunity.

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University of Manchester

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