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More Bacteria-fighting Immune Cells in the Nose and Throat Augments Infection Risk from Respiratory Viruses, Study Suggests

Nov, 2020

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According to a new study initiated by the researchers of Imperial College London have suggested that individuals with high number of bacteria-fighting immune cells in the airways such as nose and throat may be at higher risk for getting infected by respiratory viruses. Moreover, researchers observed that participants who caught infection from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) exhibited more specialized white blood cells called neutrophils in their nose and throat prior exposure to the virus, in comparison to those participants who staved off infection.

In addition researchers also informed that neutrophil-driven inflammation in the airways, which aids in fighting against bacterial infection might reduce ability to fight off invading viruses which makes an individual more vulnerable to viral infections.

Dr. Ryan Thwaites, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial and study author, stated, "If we think of a group of 10 people all exposed to the same strain of RSV under identical conditions, we'd expect around six of them to become infected and show symptoms, but the rest may be unaffected. s. But this study offers tantalizing insights into how we might improve defenses against respiratory viruses, and potentially even COVID-19.”

In the study, researchers focused on studying the primary mechanisms of why people accede to RSV infection and the factors diverse immune responses. Moreover, researchers considered healthy adults participants to the study, who were exposed to RSV in a safe, controlled clinical setting and were closely monitored. Later, researchers observed that 57% of the participants caught infection.

Moreover, researchers examined the samples from participants' airways that was taken before they were exposed to the virus, and observed indication of neutrophil activation in the nasal mucosa in the participants who were infected, in comparison to non-infected participants. Researchers anticipated that antibacterial immune response makes a host more vulnerable to viruses by efficiently switching off the early warning system, allowing them to cause infection.

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