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Mount Sinai discovers bone marrow plays critical role in enhancing immune response to viruses
Date:5/24/2010

icient clearance of the infection," said Dr. Lopez. "Very limited research has been done to evaluate bone marrow's response to a virus infection. 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."

After the mice were infected, researchers analyzed the inflammatory response daily by measuring the level of immune cells present in the lung, blood and bone marrow. They noticed that interferons, or anti-viral proteins, and cytokines, a type of immune cell, were produced exclusively by the infected lung but cells in the bone marrow responded to the infection with the expression of a number of anti-viral proteins known to be induced by interferons. Further analysis showed that cells from the bone marrow of infected mice were protected from the virus and were able to produce higher levels of cytokines upon exposure to a virus. The analysis showed that the bone marrow supplies the lung with infection-fighting cells, and that acute infection of the lung is sensed by bone marrow cells, cuing them to be prepared to fight the virus.

"The findings may be especially significant for people with compromised immune systems, including transplant and HIV patients," said Dr. Lopez. "These patients are treated with anti-viral drugs to help them avoid infection or reactivation of chronic viruses, as these types of infections are especially dangerous and could become systemic in people with suppressed immune systems. This new discovery may open new avenues for prevention and treatment of lethal infections."


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