Scientists May Have a Way to Let Preemies Breathe Easier

The continuing epidemic of pre-term birth includes this stark reality: tiny, fragile babies are born with underdeveloped lungs and prone to lifelong respiratory infections and related chronic illnesses. Cincinnati Children’s researchers report in Immunology the discovery of a complex biological process could in the development of cost effective treatments to help babies develop lifelong pulmonary resistance to respiratory infections.

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Brain links to embryonic immunity, guiding response of the “troops” that battle infection

Researchers have discovered that the brains of developing embryos provide signals to a nascent immune system that help it ward off infections and significantly improve the embryo’s ability to survive a bacterial challenge. Viable brainless frog embryos can survive for some time, but exhibit chaotic and ineffective responses.

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A MOTHER’S BUGS

-Newborn mice derive protective antibodies from their mothers’ microbiota
-Antibodies derived from mothers’ microbiota ward off both localized and widespread systemic infections by the bacterium E. coli
-Study points to the role of maternal microbes in offspring protection and neonatal immunity
-Findings can inform development of microbe-based therapies against infectious diarrhea in infants

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MORE THAN A WATCHDOG

Study in mice shows the nervous system not only detects the presence of Salmonella in the gut but actively stops the organism from infecting the body
Nerves in the gut prevent Salmonella infection by shutting the cellular gates that allow bacteria to invade the intestine and spread beyond it
As a second line of defense, gut neurons help avert Salmonella invasion by maintaining the levels of key protective microbes in the gut
Findings reveal prominent role for nervous system in infection protection and regulation of immunity

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HOW MEASLES WIPES OUT THE BODY’S IMMUNE MEMORY

Study shows measles wipes out 20 to 50 percent of antibodies against an array of viruses and bacteria, depleting a child’s previous immunity
Measles-ravaged immune system must “relearn” how to protect the body against infections
Study details mechanism and scope of this measles-induced “immune amnesia”
Findings underscore importance of measles vaccination, suggesting those infected with measles may benefit from booster shots of all previous childhood vaccines

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Blocking a Hormone’s Action in Immune Cells May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

Blocking the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR)—a protein that helps maintain normal levels of salt and water in the body—in immune cells may help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by improving blood vessel health. The study will be presented today at the American Physiological Society (APS) Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference in Estes Park, Colo.

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