The healing power of painful memories

Naik, S. The healing power of painful memories. Science 359(6380): 1113 March 2018

Our body’s epithelia are barriers that interface with the terrestrial environment and routinely experience inflammation. Although a vast majority of these inflammatory reactions resolve, they imprint the tissue with a memory. Cells of the immune system are traditionally thought to be the bearers of this memory, allowing them to react faster to subsequent inflammatory pressures (1, 2). Yet, barrier tissues are composites of epithelial, mesenchymal, nervous, vascular, and immunological networks working in unison to sustain optimal function in health and disease. The question of whether tissue-resident cells, distinct from the immune system, are entrained in response to a perturbation remains to be addressed.

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Inflammatory memory sensitizes skin epithelial stem cells to tissue damage.

Naik S*, Larsen SB*, Gomez N, Alaverdyan K, Sendoel A, Polak L, Kulukian A, Chai S and Fuchs E. Inflammatory memory sensitizes skin epithelial stem cells to tissue damage. *Equal author contribution. Corresponding author. Nature. 550(7677): 475-480 Oct 2017

Here we report that acute inflammation trains epithelial stem cells to respond faster to subsequent stressors. This work is the first to identify inflammatory memory in a non-immune cells and has significant implications for our understanding of inflammatory diseases and cancer.

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Tregs Expand the Skin Stem Cell Niche.

Horsley V and Naik S. Tregs Expand the Skin Stem Cell Niche. Developmental Cell. 41(5):455-456 June, 2017

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are emerging as an essential stem cell niche component that promotes wound repair in adipose, muscle, and lung tissues. Recently in Cell, Ali et al. (2017) report that skin resident Tregs facilitate the proliferation and differentiation of hair follicle stem cells through Notch signaling.

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Impaired signaling between epidermal and dendritic epidermal T cells slows wound repair in aging

Keyes B*, Liu S*, Asare A, Naik S, LevorseJ, Nikolova M, Pasoli A and Fuchs E. Impaired signaling between epidermal and dendritic epidermal T cells slows wound repair in aging. Cell.167(5)1323-1338 Nov, 2016.

Aged skin heals wounds poorly, increasing susceptibility to infections. Restoring homeostasis after wounding requires the coordinated actions of epidermal and immune cells. Here we find that both intrinsic defects and communication with immune cells are impaired in aged keratinocytes, diminishing their efficiency in restoring the skin barrier after wounding.

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Langerhans Cells suppress skin recruitment of CD49a+ NK cells during inflammation

Scholz F, Naik S, Sutterwala, F, and Kaplan, DH. Langerhans Cells suppress skin recruitment of CD49a+ NK cells during inflammation. Journal of Immunology 1:195(5):2335-42 Jul, 2015

These data reveal a novel function for LC in the regulation of this recently described subset of skin tropic NK cells.

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