A study published in Cell today unravels the novel ability of innate immune cells in the lung to remember past experiences.
The research, led by McMaster University professor and immunologist Dr. Zhou Xing, revealed that these cells - known as innate immune cells - were capable of forming immunological memories following viral lung infections. It also shed new lights on how such innate immune memory formed. Specifically, the study found that induction of memory macrophages in the lung was intimately linked to the works of adaptive T cells during the early effector phase of host responses.
“Up until recently, it was widely understood that the ability of cells to remember past experiences was largely ascribed to cells involved in adaptive immunity - a much slower and more pathogen-specific response to bodily threats than the immediate non-specific responses of innate immune cells” explains Dr. Yushi Yao, lead author of the publication. “Our study significantly expands what we currently know about immune memory, in turn revealing an exciting new target for developing effective vaccine strategies.”
Immune memory is an essential component of human survival, enabling our bodies to more effectively fight off infections caused by dangerous pathogens.
“The vast majority of vaccines are designed to induce adaptive immune memory only” says Prof. Xing, who is currently evaluating the potential of a tuberculosis vaccine built upon the virus used in the Cell study. “Our research suggests that vaccines can be rendered much more powerful and widely effective if they are developed to induce both adaptive and innate immune memory responses, which can enhance protection against not only the targeted pathogens but unrelated bugs as well”.
Their finding is an incredible feat in immunological research that offers hope for the development of more effective human vaccinations against globally devastating respiratory infections such as TB, influenza, and pneumonia.
Their work was supported by the Foundation and other grant programs of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Ontario Thoracic Society.
The paper may be found here:
For more information, contact:
The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research
905-525-9140, ext. 22448
Lead Contact: Dr. Zhou Xing
Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research & McMaster Immunology Research Centre