Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Two recent papers show that studying lymph nodes reveals details of the mechanisms of autoimmunity.

Rituximab abrogates aquaporin-4–specific germinal center activity in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (PNAS)

Cervical lymph nodes and ovarian teratomas as germinal centres in NMDA receptor-antibody encephalitis (Brain)

These studies open up avenues to better and more accurately study the immune system of patients with autoimmunity, presenting insights into their biology and therapeutics.
- Professor Sarosh Irani

Autoimmunity affects up to 10 per cent of humans, and includes conditions such as types of diabetes and thyroid diseases. More recently, a group of conditions have been identified in which the central nervous system (brain and spine) are affected by autoantibodies, made by our immune systems.

The generation of autoimmunity often occurs in the body's lymph nodes. However, typically, blood has been examined to infer lymph node function, mainly as lymph nodes are less easily accessible. In fact, to date the role of lymph nodes has not been directly studied in humans with autoantibodies.

Here, in two parallel studies, researchers sampled lymph nodes in the neck, which are thought to drain the central nervous system, in patients with autoantibodies that affect their spine and brain. Studying the lymph nodes revealed immunological findings which were very different to those revealed by blood. Lymph node sampling was more accurate in identifying the mechanisms by which the autoantibodies were produced and better correlated with the clinical efficacy of treatments administered to the patients.

Similar stories

Insights into the molecular pathways of progressive multiple sclerosis

Text by Ian Fyfe for 'Nature Reviews Neurology'

Discovery of gene involved in chronic pain creates new treatment target

Our researchers have discovered a gene that regulates pain sensitisation by amplifying pain signals within the spinal cord. This is helping them to understand an important mechanism underlying chronic pain in humans, and provides a new treatment target.

Multiple heart-related conditions linked to triple dementia risk, regardless of genetics

Having multiple conditions that affect the heart is linked to a greater risk of dementia than having high genetic risk, according to a large-scale new study.

NDCN research presented at Myasthenia Gravis conference

The 14th Quinquennial Myasthenia Gravis Federation of America International Conference was recently held in Miami with 450 delegates attending in person, including over 100 from industry.

Magnetic signatures of the brain characterised in UK Biobank imaging study

A study published this week in Nature Neuroscience demonstrates how studying the magnetic properties of tissue may provide a unique window into brain health and disease.

NICE recommends offering app-based treatment for people with insomnia instead of sleeping pills

Hundreds of thousands of people suffering from insomnia who would usually be prescribed sleeping pills could be offered an app-based treatment programme instead, NICE has said.