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C. Researchers Uncover a Chemical Pattern Linked to Immune Cell Survival

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers have long known that a stress hormone called corticosterones have major effects, due to stress, on the immune system. One of the effects is, they cause the death of T-cells - which are required to fight off disease. But Christina Jamieson, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, says it's also been known that another signal - which triggers the immune system to fight disease, can prevent this death caused by the stress hormone.

Jamieson: So what we wanted to understand was how the pattern of signals has changed, so that now a cell death signal from a stress hormone can be turned in combination with another infection fighting signal, into cell survival signal.

Narrator: So Jamieson mapped out on a molecular level, how these two signals interact and came up with distinct, chemical patterns that spells life or death for T-cells.

Jamieson: It's basic research to understand how the immune system really develops and how that might go awry so that you get autoimmune diseases or immunodeficiency.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.