Wednesday, 13 November, 2019


Measles weakens immune system for years, leaving people vulnerable to other infections

Measles Wipes Your Immune System's Memory, Increasing Vulnerability To Other Dangerous Diseases How measles infections can wipe away immunity to other diseases
Patty Aguilar | 08 November, 2019, 08:09

"We have known for a number of years that measles could result in increased susceptibility to other diseases, but we didn't know how or why", said Colin Russell, one of the study's co-authors and a professor of applied evolutionary biology at the University of Amsterdam. The measles virus, which has so great an influence on the immune system.

Measles leads to the death of over 100,000 people a year.

One possible explanation was that the measles vaccine boosted a child's overall immune system. For the new study, Elledge's group used VirScan to measure antibodies before and two months after infection in 77 children from de Swart's samples who'd contracted the disease.

Whereas in the second study, researchers found that when macaques were exposed to measles, they lost an average of 21 to 35 percent of their pre-existing antibodies. "This method allows you to - just from a drop of blood - detect your whole history of viral infection, looking at thousands of antibodies and their targets at one time", says Stephen Elledge of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, who was the study's principal investigator. Or, as Mina puts it, "measles seems to be punching holes in the immune memory".

Previous epidemiological research into immune amnesia suggests that death rates attributed to measles could be even higher-accounting for as much as 50 percent of all childhood mortality-if researchers factored in deaths caused by infections resulting from measles' ravaging effects on immunity.

Specific immune memory cells that had been built up against other diseases, and were present before the measles virus infection, had disappeared from the children's blood, scientists found.

Researchers suggested vaccination against measles could prevent this immune "amnesia".

When a person had measles, the virus infected some of the most important cells in the immune system and "wreaks havoc" during its stay, she said.

"The immune effect for measles can last for years and all of this really just goes to underscore the importance of measles vaccination because all of these things are entirely preventable just by getting your kids vaccinated", Russell said.

The notorious measles infection not just makes individuals debilitated, it likewise sneaks inside significant safe cells in the body and wipes their "memories", new research recommends. But in the past two decades, a new, reverse explanation has begun to emerge: What if measles infections were damaging the immune system? "There are other chronic, debilitating effects from measles that go beyond ICU admissions, and is yet another reason why there's an urgency to vaccinate against measles in order to protect kids", Hotez noted.

The Science paper looked at the diversity of antibodies in the bloodstream using a new technique called VirScan. For most of the population, this erasure is temporary, and after a few months, people recover lost antibodies.

"The immune cells that normally would recognize new pathogens - they become restricted in their ability to respond" after recovering from measles, says Velislava Petrova of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the lead author of the Science Immunology paper.

"Our study has huge implications for vaccination and public health as we show that not only does measles vaccination protect people from measles, but also protects from other infectious diseases".

"This proved to be the first definitive evidence that measles affects the levels of protective antibodies themselves, providing a mechanism supporting immune amnesia", said Elledge. "Ultimately, the conclusions that can be drawn are very similar: Infection really skews the naive repertoire, and you could expect that that would have long-term, downstream consequences on immune memory", Mina says. Utilizing information from a gathering of unvaccinated youngsters in the Netherlands, the two examinations uncovered what researchers have since a long time ago suspected: that the measles infection disables the resistant framework in a significant and enduring manner. Vaccinated children, as well as unvaccinated people who didn't get measles, retained about 90% of their antibody repertoire over the same period. Antibody depletion was not observed in infants vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.

The study was supported by the Value of Vaccination Research Network, the Gates Foundation, the NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, the Academy of Finland, and PREPARE Europe.

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