giovedì 19 gennaio 2012

non siamo mica tanto normali

C’è questo congresso che si tiene ogni anno e mezzo. Una volta in Europa e una volta negli Stati Uniti. L’ultima volta era in Croazia e ci sono andata, questa volta è in California e salto, la prossima dovrebbe essere in Germania e spero di andarci. Una mia amica/collega invece ci va e mi ha mandato una paginetta da leggere, dal momento che su quella cosa descritta nella paginetta ho lavorato anch’io mi ha spedito che cosa manda per sapere se mi andava bene. Nella mail d’accompagnamento mi ha chiesto di leggere prima l’abstract sample, così potevo capire se l’impostazione era corretta.
Secondo me quell’esempio lì è molto, molto bello, ed è anche meglio, molto meglio, delle noiosissime istruzioni che normalmente si trovano sui siti dei congressi. Lo copio e incollo qua sotto. Spero che possa piacere anche a chi non è particolarmente attratto dall’immunologia. Non ne sono certa ché non siamo mica tanto normali. E ci piace così.

INTRODUCTION. All people sleep, and most people dream, but the reasons that people differ in dreams is poorly understood. Based on the recent discovery that almost all biological events are regulated by NK cells, we sought to understand the role of NK cells and of NK cell receptors in the regulation of dreams.
METHODS. Normal volunteers were selected randomly from postdoctoral fellows who slept during lab meetings. After informed consent, peripheral blood monocytes were isolated, and NK cells were examined by flow cytometry for the expression of KIR subtypes. From the same samples, genomic DNA was obtained for sequencing of KIR genes, to correlate genotype with expression of these receptors. Volunteers were then asked to perform their usual 72-hour stint in the laboratory, after which they were allowed to sleep while undergoing electroencephalography and position emission tomography (PET scanning). After 4 hours of sleep, the volunteers were awaked, asked to recall their dreams, and allowed to return to work.
RESULTS. All volunteers slept (range 238 to 240 minutes). As assessed by rapid eye movement and changes in PET scanning (increased brainstem and decreased cortical metabolism), dreaming occurred in all subjects but varied from 10% to 80% of sleep time. There was no correlation between the amount of dreaming and expression of KIR subtypes or level of expression of KIRs on NK cells. Notably, however, KIR haplotype predicted the content of dreams. Nine of 10 individuals with KIR haplotype A (KIR2DL1, KIR2DL3, KIR2DS4 and KIR3DL1) had fearful dreams, in which they were chased by monsters, or their experiments failed. In contrast, 10 of 11 individuals with KIR haplotype B (KIR2DS1/2/3/5, KIR3DS1 and KIR2DL5A/B, KIR2DL2.10) had happy dreams, in which they published in Nature or (less commonly) received funding for a grant.
CONCLUSIONS. Our results show that the content of dreams is correlated with the expression of KIR receptors on NK cells, suggesting that NK cells control the content of dreams. The alternative, that dreams control the expression of KIRs is excluded by our genomic analyses, showing that dream content correlates not merely with KIR expression but also with genotype. A third possibility cannot by excluded, that individuals with KIR haplotype A tell the truth about their dreams, while those with haplotype B lie (or vice-versa). Although this explanation is unlikely, it would be of equal interest if KIR haplotype predicted honesty. In all, our results support theory of “NK universality”, by which all things, both known and unknown, are regulated by NK cells. (This work was funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, as part of a larger grant to achieve mind control over soldiers and civilians, awake or asleep.)

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