Like fingerprints, immune systems vary from person to person. And although we all inherit a unique set of genes that help us respond to infections, recent studies have found that our history and environment ― like where and with whom we live ― are responsible for 60 percent to 80 percent of the differences between individual immune systems, while genetics account for the rest.
The immune system exercises constant vigilance to protect the body from external threats — including what we eat and drink. A careful balancing act plays out as digested food travels through the intestine. Immune cells must remain alert to protect against harmful pathogens like Salmonella, but their activity also needs to be tempered since an overreaction can lead to too much inflammation and permanent tissue damage.
The Australian research team discovered a new pattern of immune activation at birth that was associated with an increased risk of babies developing food allergies in early life. The finding could lead to future treatments for babies and infants to prevent childhood food allergies.
Antibodies protect the body against diseases, but can also harm their own organism if the reactions are misdirected. Researchers from the University of Zurich have now discovered that a particular sugar in the antibodies determines whether one of the body's own cells is destroyed or not. This result could lead to new treatment possibilities for patients with autoimmune diseases.
Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have shown how aging cripples the production of new immune cells, decreasing the immune system's response to vaccines and putting the elderly at risk of infection. The study goes on to show that antioxidants in the diet slow this damaging process.
A group of UCL researchers (Louvain Drug Research Institute) identified an unsuspected mechanism impacting the development of obesity and diabetes type 2 after following a diet with a high dose of fat nutrition.