Research spotlights

Spotlight on research

Dr. Matthew Delano and Lyle Moldawer/Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Understanding innate immunity

UF researchers have identified two key steps required to activate the body’s innate immune system, its first line of defense against infection. Researchers, including Matthew Delano, M.D., and Lyle Moldawer, Ph.D., say understanding the chemical signals that help direct immunity may lead to improved therapies for patients with suppressed immune systems, who need extra help fighting infections. In an article published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the scientists describe how B cells, a specific type of white blood cell, release a chemical called CXCL10 to trigger inflammation and the deployment of cells designed to fight any pathogens or foreign matter. In a separate study published in the Journal of Immunology, researchers identified a protein called stromal cell-derived factor 1, which directs the release of neutrophils from the bone marrow to the site of infection. Neutrophils will attack any pathogen and are one of the body’s first weapons used to fight infection. — Laura Mize





Mildred Maldonado-Molina/Photo by Jesse S. Jones

Predicting DUI

Sipping the occasional glass of wine may seem relatively harmless, and could even be beneficial to the drinker’s health. But for parents, even moderate drinking can result in one unintended consequence: an increased risk their children will drive under the influence as adults. Writing in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, UF researchers found that about 6 percent of adolescents whose parents drank even sporadically reported driving under the influence at age 21, compared with just 2 percent of those whose parents did not imbibe. “The main idea is that parents’ alcohol use has an effect on their kids’ behavior,” said Mildred Maldonado-Molina, Ph.D., an associate professor of health outcomes and policy with the UF College of Medicine and the lead author of the paper. “It’s important for parents to know that their behavior has an effect not only at that developmental age when their kids are adolescents, but also on their future behavior as young adults.” — April Frawley Birdwell