How Immune System ‘Scars’ Make Flu More Deadly
U. Melbourne, 15 Nov 17
       

(Credit: Getty Images)

New research sheds light on why patients who survive a severe infection or physical inflammation, such as pneumonia from the flu, may be more vulnerable to secondary infections in recovery.


“This new knowledge is changing our thinking about how best to manage patients after their infections.”


Researchers discovered that the initial infection paralyzes our immune system, inhibiting its ability to fight off subsequent infections. The findings raise questions about treatments inside Intensive Care Units (ICU) following acute infection, sepsis (inflammation), and even severe trauma.

“Flu deaths are commonly caused by lower respiratory tract infections and pneumonia—a leading cause of death from infectious disease,” explains research leader Jose Villadangos, who is based jointly at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne.

“The risk of pneumonia is particularly high for critically ill patients recovering from their first flu infection episode,” he says. “After an initial severe infection, patients may be at high risk of contracting secondary infections and developing fatal pneumonia.”

“We have discovered that recovery from the viral infection leaves an ‘immunological scar’ that reduces the immune system’s capacity to launch protective responses against subsequent infections,” says Villadangos.

Immune system malfunction

“We are not evolved to survive the level of inflammatory assault that would send a person to ICU. Modern medicine in ICU is the only reason we survive,” Villadangos explains. “But this comes at a cost: the same processes that are normally at work to stop inflammation after the resolution of infection, ‘overshoot’ in ICU survivors, leaving them immunosuppressed.”

It means that as a person recovers from their primary infection, their immune cells are less able to activate their immune system.

“We have termed this phenomenon ‘immunological paralysis,” Villadangos explains. “This new knowledge is changing our thinking about how best to manage patients after their infections.”

The research, based on tests in mice and observations in patients, was led by Villadangos with Antoine Roquilly, who is now based at the University Nantes in France.


“We found that, following a primary infection, immune cells became ‘paralyzed…'”


To uncover the mechanism for the immunosuppression, the researchers measured the levels and activity of immune cells responsible for fighting infection.

Sign in to view full article

       
What If Several of the World’s Biggest Food Crops Failed at the Same Time?
Less than one-quarter of Earth’s total cropland produces nearly three-quarters of the staple crops that feed the world’s population – ...
Anthony Janetos
Thu, 8 Jun 17
The Science of Gossip: Four Ways to Make it Less Toxic
Gossip gets a bad rap. There’s no doubt that the act of gossiping about someone can sometimes be damaging and ...
Jenny Cole
Sat, 1 Apr 17
The Dead End of Communism
Communism is estimated to have killed at least 100 million people, yet its crimes have not been compiled and its ...
Epoch Times
Sat, 11 Feb 17
Why are We More Likely to Get Cancer as We Age?
This article is part of our series on older people’s health. It looks at the changes and processes that occur ...
Stuart Pitson
Wed, 1 Feb 17
The Phone Calls That Helped Expose Organ Harvesting in China
Drhiyuan Wang has spent more than 10 years investigating how other doctors in China have killed massive numbers of people ...
James Burke
Wed, 8 Feb 17
At Epoch Times, We Care :o)
Get your January/February 2018 issue at Kinokuniya stores today!
AcuSLIM - Acupuncture Weight Loss Programme
Read about Forced Organ Harvesting
Sports Elements
Sports Elements