Measles Virus Infection Destroys Immune System Memory

08 Novembre, 2019, 08:09 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Measles Virus Infection Destroys Immune System Memory

The childhood disease measles causes long-term damage to the immune system which makes patients more vulnerable to other diseases, according to new research which used information gleaned from orthodox Dutch Protestants who don't vaccinate their children.

Researchers writing in the journal Science found that when kids get measles, it can cause "amnesia" in the immune system.

Doctors have long known that people temporarily experience weakened immunity after measles.

One of the reasons the virus is so risky is that it attacks our immune system, making us more vulnerable to other infections, possibly for years. The researchers then compared these samples with the blood of 115 uninfected children and adults using the VirScan system, a tool that detects antiviral and antibacterial antibodies in the blood.

The authors of the study, who include a team from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge, say children denied the MMR jab could even lose their immunity to illnesses they have been vaccinated against, such as whooping cough, diphtheria and tuberculosis. The vaccine's emergence cut measles cases by 80% between 2000 and 2017 and is credited with saving 21.1 million lives.

But scientists, who read genetic "barcodes" for these cells so they could recognise them in the 26 children, found they were hugely depleted after measles. Measles infection erases big sections of the text, an effect sometimes called immune amnesia.

"We showed that measles-like viruses can delete pre-existing flu immune memory from ferrets", says Paul Kellam, an author on one of the new papers. Stores of the cells, created in the bone marrow, were depleted by the virus - an effect, they said, that provides a biological explanation for why child deaths not related to the measles increase for several years after a measles outbreak.

The new findings highlighted the necessity of widespread vaccination.

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Mina and his colleagues analyzed blood samples from 77 unvaccinated children from 3 schools in the Netherlands, taken before and after a measles outbreak in 2013. By protecting against the pathogen, the vaccine prevents the body from losing or "forgetting" its immune memoryand preserves its resistance to other infections.

He recommended that people vaccinated against other diseases who contract the measles should consider getting another round of shots. In addition, three co-authors are inventors on a patent application filed by Brigham and Women's Hospital that covers the use of the VirScan library to identify pathogen antibodies in blood.

"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".

"Imagine that your immunity against pathogens is like carrying around a book of photographs of criminals, and someone punched a bunch of holes in it", epidemiologist Michael Mina told the Harvard Gazette.

A separate study, published Thursday in Science Immunology, supported the findings. And if these are the consequences of measles in a high-income nation where death from the virus is rare, it's even more important this research be conducted in places where the disease is commonplace, he says. But two months after recovering from measles, the children had lost on average 20 percent of their usual antibody mix. The findings also serve as a reminder that this year's record-breaking measles outbreaks in the USA will have lingering effects, Schaffner added. The vaccine equips the body with an arsenal of anti-measles antibodies, just as the virus itself would, he said.

Researchers then tested this "immunological amnesia" directly in ferrets, showing that infection with a measles-like virus reduced the level of flu antibodies in ferrets that had been previously vaccinated against flu. The phone check bounce back to typical levels once the contamination clears, yet and still, after all that, the influenced individual may stay immunosuppressed for a considerable length of time thereafter - fundamentally, the measles infection changes individuals into exposed targets for different infectious diseases.

Omer said there is already a wealth of good science supporting the importance of measles vaccines and yet a small but vocal proportion of the population does not find it persuasive.

"This study yet again dispels the risky myths perpetuated by homeopaths and other "natural" healers who claim that exposure of infants to natural infection is important to "strengthen" children's immune systems", writes endocrinologist Nikolai Petrovsky from Flinders University.

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