NEW YORK, May 25 (UPI) — U.S. medical investigators say they have discovered how bone marrow plays a critical role in enhancing a person’s immune response to viruses.
Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine said their discovery makes bone marrow a potential therapeutic target, especially in people with compromised immune systems. They said they found that during infections of the respiratory tract, cells produced by the bone marrow are instructed by proteins to migrate to the lungs to help fight infection.
The scientists, led by Assistant Professor Carolina Lopez, evaluated the immune response to influenza infection in the lungs and blood of mice. The team found that in the days following infection, the lung became inflamed and produced interferons, or infection-fighting proteins — a message that alerted bone marrow cells of the presence of the virus and signaled them to prepare to fight the infection.
The researchers said they determined many new cells generated in the bone marrow enter the infected lung to help fight infection.
“Very limited research has been done to evaluate bone marrow’s response to a virus infection,” Lopez said. “Our study is the first to determine the pivotal role bone marrow cells play in fighting a respiratory infection. This discovery has broad-reaching implications in boosting protection against viruses.”
The data are published in the current issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe.
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