In a recent research run by the Lancaster University, has found how skin cells alarm the immune system at the time of damage suffered by their DNA in the absence of infection. Our immune system works every single day to protect us from viruses, bacteria, and parasites. It also has the ability to detect when our own cells are impaired. Exposure of skin to UV rays, contact with chemical agents such as genotoxic drugs that are used in chemotherapy or by smoking cigarette can damage our DNA.
As our skin is primarily exposed to various bacteria and viruses, that can act as a barrier against the outside world. Few studies have been carried out to know the instant result of DNA damage on the immune response.
In a study published in Molecular Cell, states that DNA damage can lead to an immune response, which was similar to viral infection according to observation.
To find out how immune response works, the scientists damaged the DNA in skin cells with the help of Etoposide – a chemotherapy drug and discovered that the damage was discovered by the proteins present in the cell that was also capable of recognizing DNA from viruses. During this, the damaged skin cells created immune messenger molecules such as cytokines and interferons that works to alarm the body to infection. Although there need to be various components of our anti-viral defenses, that were activated in a different way. It was observed that proteins were used that were actually accountable for fixing our DNA after damage.
According to lead author from Lancaster University, Dr. Leonie Unterholzner, states that they have found new ways in which cells can switch on an immune response in the skin and can prevent them from becoming cancerous. However, more work is required to know how this discovery might be used for medical application, for example in cancer immunotherapy.