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Why most kids escape Covid 19 infections

Posted on17 Mar 2020
Now, evidence is emerging that while few children suffer severely from COVID-19, they do get infected. A recent study even found evidence of viral excretion in children from rectal swabs. “At the moment it doesn’t seem to be causing much in the way of serious disease in young people, particularly children,” says virologist Robin Shattock of Imperial College London.

However, he adds, “it is quite likely that children are an important source of the virus.” One explanation for the correlation between age and disease severity is that as humans’ immune systems age, more cells become inactive. “As you age, your immune system undergoes senescence and loses its capacity to respond as effectively or be regulated as effectively,” says Baric.

Aged lungs counter the usual immune reaction with some tamping down of inflammation. As a result, says Perlman, the lungs do not respond quickly enough to a viral infection. For instance, when his group makes the lungs of older mice more like those of young mice by altering prostaglandins, compounds that respond to tissue injury, “then the mice do well and they can clear the [SARS] infection and don’t get sick,” says Perlman.

Perlman and his colleagues showed that T cells are especially important in clearing viruses from mice infected with SARS-CoV. “It is almost certain we need both an antibody- and T cell–response to do well” against COVID-19 infection, says Perlman. His suspicion is that the young immune system and its efficient T cells do a superior job of responding to SARS-CoV19.

He also proposes that young children’s higher production of a type of T cell called Th2 might guard against runaway inflammatory responses to SARS-CoV19. There’s an abundance of this receptor in cells in the lower lung, which may explain the high incidence of pneumonia and bronchitis in those with severe COVID-19 infection.

A recent study showed that ACE2 is also highly expressed in the mouth and tongue, granting the virus easy access to a new host. ACE2 receptor abundance goes down in the elderly in all these tissues, but, counterintuitively, this might place them at a greater risk of severe illness. This is because the ACE2 enzyme is an important regulator of the immune response, especially inflammation.

It protects mice against acute lung injury triggered by sepsis. And a 2014 study found that the ACE2 enzyme offers protection against lethal avian influenza. Some patients with better outcomes had higher levels of the protein in their sera, and turning off the gene for ACE2 led to severe lung damage in mice infected with H5N1, while treating mice with human ACE2 dampened lung injury.

A fall in ACE2 activity in the elderly is partly to blame for humans’ poorer ability to put the brakes on our inflammatory response as we age, according to emailed comments from Hongpeng Jia of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Reduced abundance of ACE2 receptors in older adults could leave them less able to cope with SARS-CoV19, says Baric, though the hypothesis still needs more research.

Source: The Scientist 16/03/2020

To investigate the effect of probiotics on regulating T regulatory cells and reducing the severity of experimental colitis.
Probiotics effectively treat experimental colitis by increasing CD4+CD25+Foxp3+T cell and regulating the balance of Th1 and Th2 cytokines in the colonic mucosa. World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Feb 7; 19(5): 742–749.

Therefore supplementing probiotics daily has a possible benefit to the host for regulating the balance of Th1/Th2 cytokines in the colonic mucosa. This all together, helps to boost immunity.
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