NOV 04, 2015 8:32 AM PST

Neonates Exposed to HBV Have Stronger Immune Systems

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Previously thought to create immunotolerance, scientists from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore have discovered that neonatal exposure to hepatitis B virus (HBV) actually enhances maturation of the unborn human immune system.

Mouse models of neonatal HBV exposure showed babies born in a state of immune tolerance which allows HBV to persist as a chronic infection. However, after analyzing the umbilical cord blood of human neonates of HBV chronically infected mothers, the team from Singapore saw that the exposure actually triggered increased maturation and development of innate immune cells and Th1 lymphocytes. Being born equipped with an enhanced immune system allowed human babies to respond to unrelated pathogens better than babies who were not exposed to HPV in utero, a process known as trained immunity.  
 
Computer-generated image of HBV

HBV is transmitted by bodily fluids and can cause either acute or chronic liver infection (CDC). HBV is best prevented by getting vaccinated. 

The scientists from Singapore were able to make their discovery after noticing that human neonatal HBV vaccinations were highly successful, differentiating human cases of human neonatal HBV exposure from mouse models. In addition to finding more innate and adaptive immune cells in cord blood of HBV-exposed neonates, the researchers found an "alteration of the cytokine environment." The low levels of IL-10 and high levels of IL-12p40 and IFN-a2 induced by HBV exposure are believed to provide the newborns with trained immunity.

The process of trained immunity was first discovered in 2011 when scientists saw that plants and invertebrates, which lack an adaptive immune system, could still protect themselves against re-infection, even without the memory capabilities of T and B cells. Similarly, innate immune systems in vertebrates could provide some immunological memory independently of the adaptive immune system. Scientists called this capability "trained immunity" (Cell Host Microbe). 

The scientists from Singapore continue to look at the role of HBV infections in stimulating the immune system during different stages of childhood. 

"The ages between two to 12 years is a 'black box': it's not really clear what happens during this early stage of infection," said Dr. Michelle Hong.

Watch the following video to learn more about HBV pathology and therapy options.
 

Source: Nature Communications
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
APR 21, 2020
Immunology
Sino Biological Focuses on Serological Studies of COVID-19
APR 21, 2020
Sino Biological Focuses on Serological Studies of COVID-19
April 17, 2020, Sino Biological announced this week that the company launched the world’s first coronavirus antige ...
MAY 08, 2020
Immunology
Vaccine Prevents Virally-induced Type 1 Diabetes
MAY 08, 2020
Vaccine Prevents Virally-induced Type 1 Diabetes
Scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes type 1 diabetes, although genetics and environmental factors are presum ...
MAY 15, 2020
Immunology
Support the Microbiome So the Immune System Can Do Its Job
MAY 15, 2020
Support the Microbiome So the Immune System Can Do Its Job
Research has long connected the human microbiome and immune system function, and now a recent study pinpoints a key poin ...
JUN 25, 2020
Immunology
The Protein That Orchestrates Cells' Dance of Death
JUN 25, 2020
The Protein That Orchestrates Cells' Dance of Death
When cells become diseased or infected, a “suicide switch” is triggered, preventing neighboring cells from b ...
JUL 28, 2020
Immunology
Immune-Brain Connection in Rare Disease Puzzles Scientists
JUL 28, 2020
Immune-Brain Connection in Rare Disease Puzzles Scientists
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a rare, inherited, and incurable condition associated with the progressive degenerati ...
JUL 28, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How B Cells Find Their Way to Lymph Nodes
JUL 28, 2020
How B Cells Find Their Way to Lymph Nodes
In order to generate immunity against invaders, some immune cells have to get to the lymph nodes. So how do they know ho ...
Loading Comments...