A University of Washington study is the first to provide visualizations of tuberculosis infections in an intact living organism and reveals how tuberculous granulomas, the tight aggregates of macrophages that are the hallmarks of this infection, are formed within infected organisms (Macrophages are a specialized class of white blood cells that patrol tissues and ingest foreign particles, such as bacteria and viruses, as well as dead and dying cells. Macrophages provide the backbone of the immune system.)
Inflammation is usually a normal and beneficial response by the body to tissue injury or infection. But sometimes it can spiral out of control and lead to serious complications and diseases including pulmonary fibrosis, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers have uncovered a mechanism that regulates the inflammatory response during tissue repair, providing the first specific molecular targets for developing ways to prevent highly destructive and potentially fatal inflammatory reactions.