What does the immune system have to do with COPD? Lots -- at least that is what the latest research is telling us.
Scientists are becoming increasingly aware of the immune system's role in the progression of COPD. A new study, conducted by the University of Michigan and Veteran's Affairs, found that dendritic cells, a type of immune cell that works to initiate the immune response, seem to get more active in the lungs as COPD progresses. Researchers believe that if they could alter, or completely stop, the action of these cells, they could possibly stop the disease from progressing.
COPD is a lung disease characterized, in part, by chronic inflammation which is extremely destructive to lung tissue and takes a heavy toll on patients. Overactive immune cells are thought to play a key role in the inflammatory process. If scientists could only make the dendritic cells less inflammatory without interfering in the body's ability to fight infection, they may be able to prevent COPD from getting worse. Whether or not this is possible remains to be seen, but scientists are hopeful.
To learn more about this study or to participate in a COPD research study, visit The University of Michigan Health Center.