Redox regulation of the cytokine MIF during inflammation

Status: Complete
Year: 2018
Funded: $77,976
Grant Type: Major Project Grant

We have discovered that chlorine bleach produced by white blood cells can modify an important regulatory protein in the immune system called macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF). The site of modification lies in a key region of MIF, suggesting that the modification will have biological significance. We now want to determine if MIF modification occurs when white blood cells are activated during bacterial infections, and if modification changes the function of MIF.

To determine if MIF modification occurs we will use mass spectrometry to look in fluid from the lungs of children with cystic fibrosis. This condition is associated with an accumulation of large amounts of white blood cells within the lungs, increasing the likelihood of detecting modified MIF. Also, the appearance of modified MIF may be a sensitive indicator of bacterial infection and the need for more intensive management.

In collaboration with researchers in Germany, we will also develop tissue-imaging mass spectrometry methods to measure MIF modification in a range of other diseases. This research may reveal a new marker of inflammatory disease, and also provide insight into a novel mechanism for regulating the immune response.  

Researcher // Dr Nina Dickerhof – University of Otago

Dr Nina Dickerhof’s research is focused on neutrophil-derived oxidants and their role in health and disease. Her specialist expertise is mass spectrometry and its application to measuring oxidative modification of proteins, peptides and small molecules. She is interested in the development of biomarkers of neutrophil-derived oxidative stress in inflammatory and infectious disease with a particular focus on cystic fibrosis lung disease.

More About Dr Nina Dickerhof

What are White Blood Cells?

White blood cells (also called leukocytes or leucocytes and abbreviated as WBCs) are the cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders. All white blood cells are produced and derived from multipotent cells in the bone marrow known as hematopoietic stem cells. Leukocytes are found throughout the body, including the blood and lymphatic system.

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