RCAI–JSI International Symposium on Immunology 2009

The fifth RCAI–JSI International Symposium on Immunology, hosted by the RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology (RCAI) in conjunction with the Japanese Society for Immunology (JSI), was held in Yokohama on July 9–10 of this year.

Organized jointly by RCAI Director Masaru Taniguchi and JSI President Kayo Inaba, the symposium is part of a series of annual conferences aimed at providing a forum for discussions on cutting-edge immunological research. This year’s event proved a great success, drawing more than 350 participants from around the world including 21 internationally recognized speakers presenting their research on cellular and genetic views on autoimmunity.

The symposium was divided into four sessions focusing on different aspects of autoimmunity: negative regulation of autoimmunity, the cellular and molecular basis of autoimmunity, genetics in autoimmunity, and inflammation and autoimmunity.

In the session on the cellular and molecular basis of autoimmunity, Kiyoshi Takeda of Osaka University presented his research on lamina propria dendritic cells (DC). Findings from his group indicate that ATP, the molecular unit of currency in intracellular energy transfer, also acts as a bacterial mediator in the development of TH17 cells, a helper T cell subset thought to play a key role both in defending against certain pathogens and, conversely, in driving autoimmune diseases. This discovery is an important example of the interplay between intestinal microbiota and the host immune system.

In the later session on inflammation and autoimmunity, Toshio Hirano of Osaka University and RCAI described an ’IL-6 amplifier’ that appears to be involved in the etiology of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Josef Penninger of the Austrian Academy of Sciences outlined his group’s research on the RANK/RANK ligand (RANKL), which plays an important role in bone metabolism. In experiments using a knockout strategy, Penninger found that mutant mice without RANKL could no longer mount a febrile response to a variety of stimuli, and that humans with RANK deficiency, like the mice, also suffer from both life-threatening osteopetrosis and an absence of the physiologically important febrile response.

In bringing together cutting-edge immunological researchers, this year’s RCAI–JSI symposium provided participants with a unique opportunity to share ideas and learn about the latest discoveries. Next year’s symposium promises to reveal further advances in this rapidly evolving field.

Published: 28 Aug 2009


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