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Cells that ‘taste’ danger set off immune responses

Cells that ‘taste’ danger set off immune responses

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Taste and smell receptors in unexpected organs monitor the state of the body’s natural microbial health and raise an alarm over invading parasites. When the immunologist De’Broski Herbert at the University of Pennsylvania looked deep inside the lungs of mice infected with influenza, he thought he was seeing things. He had found a strange-looking cell with a distinctive thatch of projections like dreadlocks atop a pear-shaped body, and it was studded with taste receptors. He recalled that it looked just like a tuft cell — a cell type most often associated with the lining of the intestines. But what would a cell covered with taste receptors be doing in the lungs? And why did it only appear there in response to a severe bout of influenza? Herbert wasn’t alone in his puzzlement over this mysterious and little-studied group of cells that keep turning up in unexpected places, from the thymus (a small gland in the chest where pathogen-fighting T cells mature) to the pancreas. Scientists…
Source: Cells that ‘taste’ danger set off immune responses

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