Research

The immune cells are also to blame

That it is the aggressive properties of amoebas (Entamoeba histolytic) which cause intestinal ulcers and abscesses in organs, has always been assumed and is reflected by the name “histolytica” – histos Greek for tissue and lysis for dissolution.

Section of a mouse liver with an amoebic abscess. Normal hepatic tissue is shown in grey, holes are large blood vessels, the abscess regions are marked in light yellow, amoebas are large brown structures and immune cells small blue ones.
Section of a mouse liver with an amoebic abscess. Normal hepatic tissue is shown in grey, holes are large blood vessels, the abscess regions are marked in light yellow, amoebas are large brown structures and immune cells small blue ones (Photography and illustration: Claudia Marggraff and Hanna Lotter).

It was therefore a surprise that mice in which certain immune cells (monocytes and macrophages) were knocked-down did not develop larger hepatic abscesses, but considerably smaller ones instead. Also responsible for tissue destruction in amoeba infections of mice was tumour necrosis factor (TNF), a messenger substance in the immune system that, on the other hand, appears to be very helpful in the defence against tuberculosis. 

 


Helk E. et al., PLoS Path 2013, 9:e1003096

Elena Helk, Hannah Bernin, Egbert Tannich, Hanna Lotter, Thomas Jacobs, and external cooperation partners (see publication)