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The William Harvey Research Institute - Barts and The London

Isolated white blood cell packages from patients with rheumatoid arthritis shown to be protective against inflammation

A new study by researchers from Queen Mary University of London finds that small packages released by white blood cells during inflammation can be used to prevent the activation of other white blood cells.  

1 March 2018

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Study author Dr Hefin Rhys said: "We took blood from healthy volunteers and patients with rheumatoid arthritis and isolated white blood cells called neutrophils. These neutrophils were activated with an inflammatory chemical to induce their release of their anti-inflammatory packages. These tiny packages (100,000 times smaller than a marble) were separated from their cell of origin using a high centrifuge, and fed to other white blood cells. How these other cells responded to the packages could be measured, to tell us how their activation was affected".

The findings revealed that neutrophils from both healthy volunteers and patients with rheumatoid arthritis were equally as effective at preventing activation of white blood cells.  

The study is the first step in using these small packages as a new form of therapy for chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and could have wider implications for the treatment of chronic inflammation. These packages are one of the body's natural mechanisms to prevent inflammation from becoming out of control. Dr Hefin Rhys said: "If we can harness these packages as an autologous therapy (one in which we utilise our our body material) we may be able to treat chronic inflammation with fewer side effects than existing treatments".

Further information

  • Research paper: ‘Neutrophil Microvesicles from Healthy Control and Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Prevent the Inflammatory Activation of Macrophages’. Hefin Rhys, Francesco Dell Accio, Costantinos Pitzalis, Adrian Moore, Lucy Norling, Mauro Perretti EBioMedicine. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.02.003 
  • Find out more about the Centre for Inflammation and Therapeutic Innovation (CiTI)