The endogenous substance inhibits inflammation

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Braunschweig – The endogenous substance mesaconic acid is apparently capable of dulling inflammation. The molecule could be a drug candidate that could be further developed to treat the shock resulting from sepsis and against autoimmune diseases.

This was reported by a working group led by Karsten Hiller of the Braunschweig Center for Systems Biology (BRICS) in the specialized journal Metabolism of nature (DOI: 10.1038 / s42255-022-00565-1).

In 2013, scientists discovered that immune cells in the blood and brain of mammals produce a molecule called itaconic acid, a substance that had previously only been found in the metabolism of fungi. Itaconic acid is a natural antibiotic. During further investigation, the researchers found that another metabolite is always found together with itaconic acid: mesaconic acid. It is a chemical compound that the body makes from itaconic acid.

In experiments with laboratory mice, the research team recognized that this also has an effect on inflammatory reactions: if mesaconic acid is given to mice whose immune systems are over-sized, the mice will quickly feel better and their chances of survival. increase.

Scientists were able to show that unlike itaconic acid, mesaconic acid does not block the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) enzyme.

SDH is part of the respiratory chain. If it is inhibited – for example by itaconic acid – this has strong negative effects on the metabolism. Since mesaconic acid has no blocking effect on the SDH enzyme, but has as good an anti-inflammatory effect as itaconic acid, it is particularly interesting as a potential active ingredient against autoimmune diseases, according to the researchers.

“Mesaconic acid could be used as an active ingredient against diseases in which the immune system is overactivated – septic shock and, most importantly, autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis or inflammatory bowel disease,” hopes Hiller. © hil /

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