Function of T helper cells

Helper T cells

Helper T (TH) cells provide help to other cells in the immune response by recognizing toxin or other foreign substances (antigens) which induce an immune response in the body.
The Helper T cells then secrete chemicals called cytokines that activate T cells and B cells.  These chemicals stimulate the immune response. They help suppress or regulate immune responses and are vital to human immune responses.

DIAGRAM: Antigen-presenting cells (APCs) present antigen on their MHC molecules (MHC2). Helper T cells recognize these, with the help of their expression of CD4 co-receptor (CD4+). The activation of a resting helper T cell causes it to release cytokines and other stimulatory signals (green arrows) that stimulate the activity of macrophages, killer T cells and B cells, the latter producing antibodies. The stimulation of B cells and macrophages succeeds a proliferation of T helper cells.

Helper T cells are called the "conductors" of the immune system because they coordinate activity like the conductor of an orchestra.

Helper T (TH) cells are critical to coordinating the activity of the immune response.

RESOURCES: Cardiff University


Autoimmune Disease in focus: Giant Cell Arteritis GCA

Outline of side of face, showing superficial temporal artery in red. (to left of ear.) Grays Anatomy 1918.
The superficial temporal artery is a major artery of the head. Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.

The superficial temporal artery is often affected in giant cell arteritis which is also called temporal arteritis.  Sometimes the artery is biopsied to get a correct diagnosis.

Giant-cell arteritis is also called GCA, temporal arteritis, Horton's Disease or cranial arteritis. It is more common in women than in men and in people over the age of 55.

It is inflammation of the blood vessels in the face and head. It often presents as blurred vision or sudden loss of vision to one or both eyes as the blood supply to the eye is affected

The superficial temporal artery is enlarged in Migraine attacks.


Yoga can help relieve MS symptoms

Yoga and the immune system
I want to share how yoga can help you manage your MS symptoms. If you are struggling with fatigue learning just the deep breathing techniques alone will turn on your body’s natural relaxation response and oxygenate your blood more fully. When you consciously breathe more deeply through the practice of yoga you will feel calm and relaxed but at the same time energized. In addition, when you add yoga postures that move your body you will have less muscle spasticity and increased muscle strength leading to greater balance. 
A recent study conducted by Evan Cohen and David Kietrys, physical therapists and associate professors in the School of Health Related Professions at Stratford showed the following results: "…at the end of an eight-week trial those who participated were better able to walk for short distances and longer periods of time, had better balance while reaching backwards, fine motor coordination, and were better able to go from sitting to standing. Their quality of life also improved in perceived mental health, concentration, bladder control, walking, and vision, with a decrease in pain and fatigue." These findings were presented on September 26 at the Symposium on Yoga Research at the Kripalu Institute in Massachusetts. "This study, I hope, is one of many that will give us the clinical information we need," said Fogerite. "Yoga is not currently being widely prescribed for people with MS, although it might turn out to be a very helpful treatment."

One of the study participants had the following to say about her experience…

"What was so nice about this experience was that although everyone was at a different level of the disease, we felt like we were all together, so I think the camaraderie helped," said Meltzer. "And it wasn’t just about gaining more mobility and balance in our legs but our arms and necks felt stronger as well."

I have MS myself and yoga is a big part of why I am so mobile and strong in my body. I want to share yoga with everyone I know, but especially those people with MS, because it can change their lives. I offer several chair yoga classes and also work one on one with people to help them develop a home practice. If you are interested in learning more feel free to contact me at janetgolow@gmail.com.

Janet Golownia RYT, PYT, Certified Health Coach

Janet Golownia is passionate about unlocking the body’s ability to heal itself through a variety of yoga tools and nutrition.  She has learned from healing her own health issues of hypothyroidism, depression and multiple sclerosis that healing takes place not only on the physical level but also the energetic and emotional levels.  As a Yoga Therapist and Certified Health coach she will develop a personalized plan of healing for each client based upon their goals.  Some of the many benefits experienced by her clients are relief of chronic pain, greater core strength, increased flexibility and range of motion, greater body awareness and mental clarity.

Read more about Janet's personal story and mission with health 


Metabolic syndrome can be reversed

Metabolic syndrome can be reversed with diet

A Mediterranean diet which includes olive oil, nuts, fish, complex carbs and vegetables can reverse metabolic syndrome according to Spanish research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of abnormalities in normal function and chemical processes associated with the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
“Mediterranean diets supplemented with olive oil or nuts were not associated with a reduced incidence of metabolic syndrome compared with a low-fat diet; however, both diets were associated with a significant rate of reversion of metabolic syndrome,”  Nancy Babio, PhD, with Jordi Salas-Salvadó, MD, PhD wrote.

Find out more about this Mediterranean diet here including links to recipes.
Get Mediterranean diet breakfast suggestions here.


What Is Palindromic Rheumatism?

Palindromic Rheumatism
Palindromic rheumatism gets its name from the word “palindromic,” which means to come again.  In rheumatism it tells you that this joint condition begins and ends and then comes again.
Palindromic rheumatism (PR) consists of sudden and rapidly developing attacks of arthritis. There is acute pain, redness and swelling of one or multiple joints.
PR is a rare type of arthritis, and is closely related to a more common condition, rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Fast PR facts:
  • Usually occurs in hands and feet.
  • Joints appear normal on an X-ray when you are not experiencing pain.
  • An episode of pain and swelling can be as short as a few hours.
  • Lengths of a PR episode vary from person to person.
  • Researchers believe it is strongly connected to RA.  
  • People with PR often have many of the same protein markers as people with RA.
  • connection between PR and antiphospholipid syndrome. The immune symptom of a person with antiphospholipid syndrome attack the normal proteins in the body.
  • PR is most often diagnosed in people between 20 and 70.
  • Both men and women are affected equally.
  • People with the rheumatoid factor protein are more likely to develop PR.
  • Diagnosis is difficult as there is no single test that can diagnose PR.
Healthline has a good slide show about Palindromic Rheumatism


What doctor to see for an autoimmune condition

specialists for an autoimmune condition
Doctors have great knowledge in their area of specialisation.
There are many kinds of specialists in medicine and knowing what each does can be helpful to people seeking a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease or having an autoimmune disease. Specialists are helpful in managing autoimmune disease symptoms. You may need to see a variety of different specialists to help manage your symptoms and slow the progression of your disease. Your family doctor will write a referral to the specialists you need and will help you manage your care.

This list of specialists is arranged alphabetically.
It is not a full list.

Allergist and Immunologist
Treat disorders of the immune system such as asthma, eczema, nasal allergies, food allergies, and immunodeficiency diseases.

Study the heart and treat disorders of the heart and blood vessels.

Cardiovascular Specialist
 Diagnose and treat diseases of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels and manage cardiac conditions such as heart attacks.

Diagnose and treat disorders of the skin, mouth, external genitalia, hair, and nails, such as skin cancers, moles, allergic disorders, and scarring.

Diagnose and treat disorders of the endocrine system such as thyroid and adrenal gland problems and disorders such as diabetes, pituitary diseases, and menstrual and sexual problems.

GastroenterologistDiagnose and treat problems of the stomach, pancreas, intestines, liver, and gallbladder, such as abdominal pain, ulcers, cancer, and jaundice.

Diagnose and treat disorders of the kidneys, high blood pressure, and fluid and mineral imbalances. 

Diagnose and surgically treat problems of the nervous system (including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves) and the blood vessels and structures that support that system.

Pain Management Specialist
Treat people experiencing acute and chronic pain.

RheumatologistDiagnose and treat diseases of joints, muscles, bones, and tendons such as arthritis, back pain, and common athletic injuries. .

A full list of specialties and subspecialties that physicians enter, and descriptions of what the specialists do can be found at The Harvard Medical School. 


Mediterranean breakfasts

Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean Diet Guide from Google play
The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating including olive oil and a glass of red wine. The diet includes all fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limits certain fats such as butter.
Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
But what do you actually eat on the Mediterranean diet?
Today we will focus on breakfasts.

Unsweetened yoghurt with fruit and nuts.
tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic
Lightly sauté vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil.

Egg dishes made with oil instead of butter and no or minimum milk.
Mediterranean breakfasts
Whole grain bread with avocado, tomato and herbs or with fruit and honey.
Mediterranean breakfasts
Whole grain cereal like spiced apple cereal (above)


Toni Braxton is a fighter of Lupus

Singer Toni Braxton has Lupus which is also called SLE or systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus causes the immune system to attack blood cells and tissue, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage that can affect the heart, lungs, skin, joints, kidneys and brain.

"I decided to come forward because I got tired of pretending. I got tired of hiding it. It was challenging masking it all the time, pretending that I feel great and I was actually feeling horrible."

On November 18, 2010, Braxton told CBS News that she had been diagnosed with Lupus a potentially life threatening autoimmune disease. Braxton's brother is a carrier of the disease, and her uncle died of complications from lupus. In December 2012 Toni was in hospital due to health issues related to lupus.



What is Vasculitis?

public domain image of arteries in brain

The brain and arteries at base of the brain
Grays Anatomy

Vasculitis is an inflammation of blood vessels, which includes the veins, arteries, and capillaries.  Researchers think that inflammation occurs with infection or is thought to be due to a faulty immune system response.  Vasculitic disorders can cause problems in any organ system, including the central (CNS) and peripheral (PNS) nervous systems.   Vasculitis disorders, or syndromes, of the CNS and PNS are characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in and around blood vessels, and secondary narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels that nourish the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves.
A vasculitic syndrome may begin suddenly or develop over time.  Symptoms include: headaches, especially a headache that doesn’t go away; fever; feeling out-of-sorts; rapid weight loss; confusion or forgetfulness leading to dementia; aches and pains in the joints and muscles; pain while chewing or swallowing; paralysis or numbness, usually in the arms or legs; and visual disturbances, such as double vision, blurred vision, or blindness.
Although these disorders are rare, there are many of them.  Some of the better understood syndromes are: 
  • Temporal arteritis (also called giant cell arteritis or cranial arteritis)
  • Primary angiitis of the CNS (granulomatous angiitis)
  • Takayasu’s disease,
  • Periarteritis nodosa
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Wegener’s granulomatosis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosis                                   
  • Scleroderma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Behcet’s disease

Is there any treatment?

Treatment for a vasculitis syndrome depends upon the specific diagnosis.  Most of the syndromes respond well to steroid drugs, such as prednisone.  Some may also require treatment with an immunosuppressive drug, such as cyclophosphamide.

What is the prognosis?

The prognosis is dependent upon the specific syndrome, however, most of the syndromes are fatal if left untreated.

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and other institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct research relating to vasculitis syndromes in laboratories at the NIH and also support vasculitis research through grants to major medical institutions across the country.  The NINDS supports The Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC), a network of academic medical centers, patient support organizations, and clinical research resources dedicated to conducting clinical research and improving the care of individuals with vasculitis.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Vasculitis Syndromes of the Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems Clinical Trials


American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
22100 Gratiot Avenue
Eastpointe, MI   48021-2227
http://www.aarda.org External link
Tel: 586-776-3900 800-598-4668
Fax: 586-776-3903
National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT   06810
http://www.rarediseases.org External link
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
31 Center Drive, Rm. 6A32 MSC 2510
Bethesda, MD   20892-2510
Tel: 301-496-5248
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
6610 Rockledge Drive, MSC 6612
Bethesda, MD   20892-6612
Tel: 301-496-5717

Related NINDS Publications and Information
  • Vasculitis Fact Sheet brochure ( pdf file, 426 kb)
    Prepared by:
    Office of Communications and Public Liaison
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD 20892     

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied.   

You may find find some support groups here for these conditions.                

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