Single receptor TLR4 triggers nickel allergy


Nickel has been a cause of concern for medical community as it leads to allergy called as nickel allergy.  Nickel allergy is characterized by itching, burning and redness due to contact allergic dermatitis.  Are you wondering where you would get in contact with Nickel?  Nickel is commonly found in jewelry, zippers, cell phones and many more objects that can contact your skin.  A 2008 study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that nearly half of the cell phones they tested contained some free nickel.

The protein TLR4 is at the root of nickel allergy

The latest study which was reported in Nature Immunology reveals the research from German scientists, who have found the biological mechanism responsible for nickel allergy.  The research was conducted on mice and immune response to nickel exposure was studied. 

The results of the study revealed that;

  • Nickel binds to a protein called toll-like receptor 4 or TLR4, which signals the immune system to initiate an inflammatory response.
  • TLR4, could potentially serve as a molecular target for blocking an allergic reaction to nickel.
  • Nickel binds to two specific sites on TLR4, triggering a reaction.
  • Intervening in this process, such as disabling TLR4 to recognize nickel and...

    react while maintaining its innate ability to detect pathogens, could help reduce nickel allergy symptoms.

Researchers acknowledged that “Future strategies for prophylaxis and treatment of contact allergy to nickel may no longer need to rely on currently used topical immunosuppressants.”

The research is a positive news as it addresses the root cause of nickel allergy, which is increasing in North America as well as many parts of Europe. It is obvious that this research will motivate treatments for nickel allergy, I was wondering can other allergies like, dust, pollen, food be treated in similar fashion, as to disabling “certain receptors” that cause them.  Wouldn’t that be nice!

Source: webmd

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