Getting a consistent good night’s sleep supports normal production and programming of hematopoietic stem cells, a building block of the body’s innate immune system, according to a small National Institutes of Health-supported study in humans and mice. Sleep has long been linked to immune function, but researchers discovered that getting enough of it influenced the environment where monocytes – a type of white blood cell – form, develop, and get primed to support immune function. This process, hematopoiesis, occurs in the bone marrow.
“What we are learning is that sleep modulates the production of cells that are the protagonists – the main actors – of inflammation,” said Filip K. Swirski, Ph.D., a senior study author and director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City. “Good, quality sleep reduces that inflammatory burden.”
Exposure to social stress was associated with accelerated aging of the immune system, according to an NIA-funded study recently published in PNAS. The body’s immune system changes as people age, and there’s large variability in these changes. The study, led by researchers at UCLA, investigated whether social stressors added to immune system decline.
The researchers analyzed data from more than 5,500 people enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study, a long-term, nationally representative study of Americans over age 50. The researchers measured stress by analyzing responses to questions about exposure to various types of social stress, including discrimination, trauma, and other life events, such as unemployment. They also analyzed the participants’ immune profiles — a snapshot of immune system function — by drawing blood and measuring white blood cell levels, specifically T lymphocytes (also called T cells). T cells are an essential part of the immune system and help the body fight off infection.
For a glimpse into the future of SARS-CoV-2 immunity, scientists at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) are investigating how the immune system builds its defenses against common cold coronaviruses (CCCs).
According to a new LJI study, published recently in Cell Host & Microbe, adults have stable memory responses of CCC-fighting antibodies and T cells, presumably derived from multiple exposures to CCCs in childhood. Thanks to this immune cell army, CCC infections in adulthood tend to be infrequent and mild.
These findings may be a clue to how immunity can build up against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and the leading researchers think the COVID-19 booster shots available today may be critical for long-term immunity.
Our body’s relationship with bacteria is complex. While infectious bacteria can cause illness, our gut is also teaming with “good” bacteria that aids nutrition and helps keep us healthy. But even the “good” can have bad effects if these bacteria end up in tissues and organs where they’re not supposed to be.
Now, research published in Nature reveals insights into how the body maintains this balance. Investigations with mice demonstrate that early life is a critical time when the immune system learns to recognize gut bacteria and sets up surveillance that keeps them in check. Defects in these mechanisms could help explain why the immune system sometimes attacks good bacteria in the wrong place, causing the chronic inflammation that’s responsible for inflammatory bowel disease, the study’s authors say
To establish a healthy relationship with “good” gut bacteria, the body trains the immune system to recognize these microbes at early stages.
“From the time we are born, our immune system is set up so that it can learn as much as it can to distinguish the good from the bad,” says Matthew Bettini, Ph.D., associate professor of pathology at U of U Health and co-corresponding author with Sloan Kettering Institute immunologist Gretchen Diehl, Ph.D. “Our studies make clear that there is a window in which gut microbiota have access to the immune education process. This opens up possibilities for designing therapeutics that can influence the trajectory of the immune system during this early time point.”
A comprehensive study of immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 associates mild disease with comparatively high levels of antibodies that target the viral spike protein. But all antibodies wane within months.
COVID-19 antibodies preferentially target a different part of the virus in mild cases of COVID-19 than they do in severe cases, and wane significantly within several months of infection, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford Medicine.
The findings identify new links between the course of the disease and a patient’s immune response. They also raise concerns about whether people can be re-infected, whether antibody tests to detect prior infection may underestimate the breadth of the pandemic and whether vaccinations may need to be repeated at regular intervals to maintain a protective immune response.
There seems to be no limit to the promises on the Internet for foods and dietary supplements that allegedly “boost” or “support” your immune function. There’s more than a grain of scientific truth in it, and the prospect of enhancing immune function with nutrition is a busy area of research—some of it by scientists at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
We know that nutrient deficiencies weaken the immune system and leave people vulnerable to illness. But if your nutrient intakes are adequate, can certain foods and nutritional supplements still improve immune function?
There is no definitive answer yet to this question—although there is reason for optimism. “I would not say it’s entirely an open question,” says Simin Nikbin Meydani, PhD, senior scientist and director of the Tufts’ HNRCA Nutritional Immunology Laboratory. “We do have promising evidence from animal studies and some human clinical trials that specific nutrients might be able to help strengthen an aging immune system. But we need additional research.”
Truth be told I never heard of Lion’s mane mushrooms before today. However, this article in Medical News Today piqued my curiosity. I would like to hear from any readers who may have had experience with the mushrooms in one form or another.
Lion’s mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) are white, globe-shaped fungi that have long, shaggy spines. People can eat them or take them in the form of supplements. Research suggests that they may offer a range of health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved cognitive and heart health. Continue reading →
Because my family history includes both Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, I am fascinated by every aspect of the brain and its functions. The following is from Neuroscience News.
The human brain is much better than previously thought at discovering and avoiding disease, a new study led by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden reports. Our sense of vision and smell alone are enough to make us aware that someone has a disease even before it breaks out. And not only aware – we also act upon the information and avoid sick people. The study is published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
By injecting harmless sections of bacteria, the researchers activated the immune response in participants, who developed the classic symptoms of disease – tiredness, pain and fever – for a few hours, during which time smell samples were taken from them and they were photographed and filmed. The injected substance then disappeared from their bodies and with it the symptoms. NeuroscienceNews.com image is for illustrative purposes only.
Consumption of fast foods and processed foods took another hit today according to a couple of studies from Tufts.
In a clinical trial, adults who consumed a diet rich in whole grains rather than refined grains had modest improvements in healthy gut microbiota and certain immune responses. The research was conducted in tandem with a study that looked at the effects of a whole-grain diet on energy metabolism. Both studies are published online today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Whole grain consumption has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Researchers have speculated that whole grains lessen risk for diseases through reducing inflammation, but studies comparing the effects of whole grains versus refined grains consumption have not controlled the diets of study participants and have not evaluated cell-mediated immune responses to uncover the impact of whole grains on immune and inflammatory responses.
The research team analyzed the results from an eight-week randomized, controlled trial with 81 participants to see what effect a diet rich in whole grains, as opposed to a diet rich in refined grains, would have on immune and inflammatory responses, gut microbiota, and stool frequency in healthy adults. For the first two weeks, participants consumed the same weight-maintaining Western-style diet rich in refined grains. For the next six weeks, 40 of those participants stayed on that diet, while 41 participants consumed a diet rich in whole grains. Continue reading →
I have posted on the health benefits of sweet potatoes previously, but, I think good information bears expanding. Here is a very useful infographic.
Here are a couple of highlights, but click on this link for the entire spread.
In addition, WebMD has an informative spread on them, too. Under the heading Antioxidants Aplenty it offers: “Not all sweet potatoes are orange. Their skins and insides can be white, yellow, brown, red, pink, and purple. The range of color brings different nutrients to the table. Purple-fleshed sweet potatoes are thought to contain super-high levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents. As these substances pass through your system, they balance out free radicals — chemicals that harm your cells.”
Under the heading Healthy Prep Is Easy it says: “The way you cook your sweet potatoes can make a big difference in the nutrition you’ll get from the dish. One study measured how many carotenoids, like beta-carotene, stayed in the food afterward. The simplest method, oven baking, turned out to be the best.”
It’s that time of year again, not just holiday season, but cold season. And, for many of us, it’s vitamin C season. As a person just getting over his Christmas cold, I was interested to learn more about vitamin C. Turns out it is a very powerful force for good health.
“Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin well known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system. Because your body cannot make vitamin C, it must come from the foods you eat every day. Continue reading →
Popeye had his spinach, but broccoli is really healthy, too.
There are lots of fancy ways to fix it, but my favorite, that is to say, Mr. Lazy Cook’s favorite, is to steam it a couple of minutes and dig in. If you aren’t familiar with steaming, it is wonderfully quick and brings out the most brilliant colors in your veggies.