Complicated T-cell: Th9


Senior Member

"Th9 cells are kind of like the black sheep of helper T cells," said senior author Daniella Schwartz, M.D., assistant professor of rheumatology at Pitt's School of Medicine. "They need a perfect storm of occurrences to pop up, and they aren't long-lived, which makes them hard to study. The other weird thing about Th9 cells is that they remain functional without seeing their antigen."

"I most helper T cells, when antigen binds to T cell receptor, this highly specific recognition process causes DNA in the T cell's nucleus to unwind like thread on a spool, opening up regions of DNA that encode the production of cytokines that unleash a suite of immune responses. When the threat is eliminated, there's no more antigen to stimulate T cell receptors and the cells turn off. But the DNA structure remains open so that the cell is poised for a possible future encounter." Could ME involve the DNA being opened beyond the appropriate regions, or misfolded or whatever?

"They found that Th9 cells from the allergy patients responded to bystander activation, but not those from healthy volunteers." This seems similar to the 'something in the blood' found in ME studies. Someone else will have to figure out whether this is a possibility explanation for that 'something'.

Just more examples of how complex biology is, and how the core dysfunction of ME may not be simple to find.