(ANI) -- Scientists have for the first time found that the human body makes ozone, the reactive gas-most famous as the ultraviolet ray-absorbing component of the ozone layer.
Investigators at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) who made the original discovery, say that the ozone appears to be produced in a process involving human immune cells known as neutrophils and human immune proteins known as antibodies.
"It is a tremendously efficient chemical and biological process," says Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry Paul Wentworth, who adds that the presence of ozone in the human body may be linked to inflammation, and therefore this work may have tremendous ramifications for treating inflammatory diseases.
Ozone is a reactive form of oxygen that exists naturally as a trace gas in the atmosphere. It is perhaps best known for its crucial role absorbing ultraviolet radiation in the stratosphere, where it is concentrated in a so-called ozone layer, protecting life on earth from solar radiation.
Ozone is also a familiar component of air in industrial and urban settings where the gas is a hazardous component of smog. However, ozone has never before been detected in biology.
Two years ago, Lerner and Wentworth demonstrated that antibodies are able to produce ozone and other chemical oxidants when they are fed a reactive form of oxygen called singlet oxygen. And late last year, Lerner, Wentworth, and Babior demonstrated that the oxidants produced by antibodies can destroy bacteria by poking holes in their cell walls, according to an article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This was a completely unexpected development, since for the last 100 years, immunologists believed that antibodies-proteins secreted into the blood by the immune system-acted only to recognize foreign pathogens and attract lethal "effector" immune cells to the site of infection.
The work of the TSRI scientists suggests that the antibacterial effect of neutrophils is enhanced by antibodies. In addition to killing the bacteria themselves, the neutrophils feed singlet oxygen to the antibodies, which convert it into ozone, adding weapons to the assault. (ANI)
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