Researchers have found that Macrophages can not only kill and consume microorganisms but also heal wounds. Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death which is the result of oxygen deprivation as blood perfusion to affected tissue is prevented. To stop the improvement of the disease and to improve healing, re-establishment of blood flow is important.
Researchers at Uppsala University discovered that immune cells in the human body, Macrophages, play an important role in re-establishing and controlling blood flow, something that can be used to develop new drugs. The function of immune cells is to defend the body against attacks from microorganisms and tumour cells. They are immune cells specialized in killing and consuming microorganisms but they have also been shown to be involved in wound healing and building blood vessels.
This discovery led the researchers to investigate whether their findings could be developed into a new treatment to increase blood flow to damaged leg muscles, thus stimulating healing and improving function. By increasing the local concentration of certain signal substances that bind to Macrophages in the damaged muscle, the research group was able to demonstrate that more immune cells accumulated around the blood vessels, improving their ability to regulate blood flow. This in turn resulted in improved healing and that the mice were able to use the injured leg to a far greater extent.