Scientists in the UK have discovered how allergic reactions to cats are triggered. A research team from the University of Cambridge discovered that the Fel d 1 protein found in cat dander is the most common cause of severe allergic reactions to cats.
Cat dander is microscopic pieces of dry skin cells, which are often accompanied by dried saliva from grooming. It was also discovered that when environmental bacterial toxin, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is present, it intensifies the body’s inflammatory response to the cat protein Fel d 1.
The scientists also identified the part of the immune system that recognises the LPS contaminated Fel d 1 is the pathogen recognition receptor Toll-like receptor 4, an important protein in the activation of the innate immune system. They used a drug to inhibit the TLR4 response which then blocked the effects of the cat dander protein on human cells and thereby preventing an inflammatory response.
The research is expected to lead to new and improved treatments for cat and possibly dog allergy sufferers.
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