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Unraveling Mold Illness: The Surprising Role of TGF-beta 1 in Immune Suppression

Written by Portland Clinic of Natural Health on November 14, 2023

Mold illness, or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), is a condition that's increasingly gaining attention in the medical community. A critical element in this condition is the role of Transforming Growth Factor Beta 1 (TGF-beta 1), a cytokine often found at elevated levels in patients suffering from mold exposure. This blog post explores the scientific basis of how elevated TGF-beta 1 can suppress T regulatory cells, leading to potential immune dysregulation in individuals affected by mold illness.

TGF-beta 1 and Its Role in Mold Illness

TGF-beta 1 is a multifunctional cytokine that plays a vital role in regulating immune responses. It's known to be involved in processes like cell growth, inflammation, and wound healing. However, its overexpression, as seen in mold illness, can lead to adverse effects, particularly on the immune system.

How TGF-beta 1 Suppresses T Regulatory Cells

T Regulatory Cells (Tregs): Tregs are crucial for maintaining immune tolerance and preventing autoimmune responses. They help keep the immune system in check, ensuring it doesn't overreact and cause damage to the body's own tissues.

Impact of Elevated TGF-beta 1: High levels of TGF-beta 1 can disrupt the normal function of Tregs. According to research, elevated TGF-beta 1 in the context of mold illness can suppress the activity of these regulatory cells. This suppression can lead to an imbalance in the immune system, with potential increases in inflammation and autoimmunity.

Clinical Implications: The dysregulation of Tregs due to high TGF-beta 1 levels may contribute to the wide array of symptoms experienced by patients with mold illness. These symptoms can range from chronic fatigue and cognitive difficulties to more severe inflammatory and autoimmune reactions.

Research and Evidence

Several studies have pointed out the relationship between TGF-beta 1 and immune regulation. For instance, research has shown how TGF-beta 1 can modulate the immune system, affecting the function of Tregs. These findings are particularly relevant for understanding the complex pathophysiology of mold illness.

The Link Between Elevated TGF-beta 1 and the Suppression of T Regulatory Cells

The link between elevated TGF-beta 1 and the suppression of T regulatory cells provides a critical insight into the immune dysregulation observed in mold illness. This understanding is vital for developing targeted treatments that can address the root causes of the symptoms and improve patient outcomes. As research advances, it's hoped that more effective strategies will emerge to manage this challenging condition.

Resources:

  1. Moreau JM, Velegraki M, Bolyard C, Rosenblum MD, Li Z. Transforming growth factor-β1 in regulatory T cell biology. Sci Immunol. 2022 Mar 18;7(69):eabi4613. doi: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abi4613. Epub 2022 Mar 18. PMID: 35302863; PMCID: PMC10552796.
  2. Turner JA, Stephen-Victor E, Wang S, Rivas MN, Abdel-Gadir A, Harb H, Cui Y, Fanny M, Charbonnier LM, Fong JJH, Benamar M, Wang L, Burton OT, Bansal K, Bry L, Zhu C, Li QZ, Clement RL, Oettgen HC, Crestani E, Rachid R, Sage PT, Chatila TA. Regulatory T Cell-Derived TGF-β1 Controls Multiple Checkpoints Governing Allergy and Autoimmunity. Immunity. 2020 Dec 15;53(6):1202-1214.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2020.10.002. Epub 2020 Oct 20. Erratum in: Immunity. 2020 Dec 15;53(6):1331-1332. PMID: 33086036; PMCID: PMC7744401.
  3. Johannessen LN, Nilsen AM, Løvik M. Mycotoxin-induced depletion of intracellular glutathione and altered cytokine production in the human alveolar epithelial cell line A549. Toxicol Lett. 2007 Jan 30;168(2):103-12. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2006.11.002. Epub 2006 Nov 15. PMID: 17161924.
  4. Figueiredo CC, Deccache PMS, Lopes-Bezerra LM, Morandi V. TGF-beta1 induces transendothelial migration of the pathogenic fungus Sporothrix schenckii by a paracellular route involving extracellular matrix proteins. Microbiology (Reading). 2007 Sep;153(Pt 9):2910-2921. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2006/005421-0. PMID: 17768235.
  5. Schmidt-Weber CB, Blaser K. The role of TGF-beta in allergic inflammation. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2006 May;26(2):233-44, vi-vii. doi: 10.1016/j.iac.2006.02.011. PMID: 16701142.

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