Hello one and all and thank you for reading this weeks article on your immunity system. Covid 19 is still raging more than ever approaching 1,000,000 cases worldwide at time of writing. The single most important way to fight this scourge is to build up your immune system. We will explore how the virus attacks cells immune system that produce antibodies. Discover how a virus attacks the cells in the immunity system and thereafter find out how to boost your immune system.
What are the immune responses to viruses
Via cytotoxic cells
When a virus infects it normally invades the cells of its host (person) to multiply and survive. Once inside, the cells inside the immune system are blind to the virus and are not any wiser that the host cell is infected. For this situation to be rectified therefore cells employ a system that permits them to show other cells what is in them. The molecules they use called class I major histocompatibility complex protiens (MHC class I) which show protein pieces from within the cell on the cell surface. These pieces known as peptides include small pieces of proteins produced by that virus when the cell becomes infected.
T cells hunt for infections
The immune system sends a special cell called a T cell to hunt for infections. A special one of these known as cytotoxic T cells kills cells laden with viruses with toxic mediators( a go-between). Specialised proteins named Tcell receptors (TCR’s) are located on the surface of cytotoxic T cells. These receptors help the T cells in recognizing virally infected cells. Each cytotoxic T cell has a TCR that recognizes and targets a specific antigenic (a structure bound by antibodies) peptide attached to an MHC molecule. If a T cell receptor( a cell which transmits a signal) hunts down a peptide from a virus it alerts its T cell of an infection. The T cell thus releases cytotoxic factors (contributors to a result) killing the infected cell and stops dead the survival of the invading virus.
Viruses are infectious and adaptable. They have developed the means of not being found by T cells. Some may stop MHC molecules from reaching the cell surface to show infectious peptides. When this happens the T cell is unaware that a virus lives inside an infected cell.
Specialised Natural Killer Cells
For this there is another immune cell which specialises in killing cells that have fewer numbers of MHC class I molecules. This is a natural killer or NK cell. When it finds these MHC molecules it too like cytotoxix cells, releases toxic substances that kill a virus infected cell.
Armed with mediators for effectiveness cytotoxic cells store factors inside compartments called granules found in both NK and cytotoxic cells. NK and cytotoxic cells with their factors are released when they come into contact with an infected cell. One of these mediators is named perforin. Perforin is a protein capable of making holes in cell membranes allowing the factors to move in and kill a target cell. Granzymes Enzymes named Granzymesare stored and released from the granules to enter through the holes made by the perforin.
Apoptosis is a process known as a programmed cell death that is initiated once factors get inside the targeted cell. Granulysin is another cytotoxin factor that is released and attacks the outer membrane of an infectious cell killing it by lysis (Rupturing a cell membrane wall). Cytotoxix cells are also capable of newly combining and releasing other proteins known as cytokines when in contact with infected cells. Cytokines are capable of transferring a signal as they include interferon-g and tumour necrosis factor-a from the T cell to infected and neighbouring cells therefore enhancing the killing mechanisms.
Antibodies (a blood protein produced to fight a virus) can also remove viruses before they even have the chance to infect a cell. They are proteins that are specific in identifying viruses and other diseases then bind (adhere) to them which serves in the killing of the virus.
(a) By neutralizing the virus making it incapable of infecting the host cell.
(b) Many antibodies work together herding the virus particles together known as agglutination. This process makes it easier to target for immune cells to work on than individual virus particles.
(c) Antibodies also use the activation of phagocytes as another mechanism in killing off virus cells. The antibodies bind to receptors known as Fc receptors on the surface of phagocytic cells. They trigger phagocytosis cells that engulf and eradicate the virus.
(d) Activating the complement system by antibodies which makes foreign cells more susceptible likely harmed) to phagocytosis.
Complement is also therefore able to damage the phpspholipib bilayer (envelope) that may be present on some types of virus.
Interferons are small proteins produced and released when cells are infected by a virus. Interferon stop the multiplication of virus cells by interfering with their ability to copy and multiply within an infected cell. They also act as signalling molecules allowing infected cells to warn neighbouring cells of the presence of infectious cells. This signal triggers nearby cells to increase numbers of MHC class I molecules on their surfaces to enable T cells on scouting missions to identify and kill the virus infected cells.
How can you improve your immune system
Overall your immune system does a good job in the defence of guarding you against disease microorganisms. It is also true that sometimes it does not and germs invade making you very ill. Which begs the question is it possible to do something by strengthening your immune system? Make lifestyle changes to vastly improve and strengthen your immune system? Possibly improve your diet? Take specific vitamins or other herbal preparations?
Is there a way to increase your immunity in a healthy way
Claims for boosting or supporting the immune system
There are as many claims to boost or support the immune system as there are books and products on store shelves recommending them. The idea of boosting immunity is weak because it is arguable that it makes much sense scientifically. It is a fact that boosting the number of cells both immune (not likelu to catch a disease) or others is not necessarily a good thing to do. An example is ‘blood doping’ which involves athletes to pump blood into their systems thus increasing blood cell numbers to improve performance only run the risk of strokes.
Many different cells responding in many different ways
There are so many differing cells in the immune system that respond in so many different ways to different microorganisms. It is therefore especially difficult to know which cells require boosting. So far scientists have no answer. They know there is a continuous generating of immune cells in the body. There is an overproduction of lymphocytes certainly more than the body needs. Some extra cells remove themselves through the process of apoptosis (a programmed process to kill virus infected cells, some before they contribute or see any action in the fight against microbes and others after they have fought the battle to win. No one yet thus knows what the best combination of cells are to function at optimum capacity or levels.
Providing a boost to cells is complicated
Providing a boost for cells in our immune system is a complicated process. There are many differing cells responding to many different microbes in many ways. Which cells should you boost, and to what number? Scientists do not yet know the answer. Our body’s are continually generating immune cells. Certainly it produces many more lymphocytes than it can possibly use. The extra cells remove themselves through a natural process of cell death called apoptosis. Some of these extra cells will remove themselves before they see any action with infected cells. Those still remaining will do the same after the battle with the infected cells is won. No one therefore knows how many cells or what the best mix of cells the immune system needs to function at its optimum level.
Healthy ways to strengthen your immune system wisely
Choose to live a healthy lifestyle as that includes general health guidelines that is the wisest decision you can make. This naturally keeps your immune system healthy and strong keeping you and your body strong against environmental threats. These are the healthy living ways you can take on.
(a) Eat a diet with a higher number of items in fruit and vegetables.
(b) Exercise regularly daily preferably.
(c) Maintain a healthy weight
(d) Do Not Smoke.
(e) If you do drink alcohol do sensibly.
(f) Try and avoid infection by cooking meats thoroughly and washing your hands frequently.
(g) Get sufficient sleep.
(h) Keep re hydrated drink plenty of water.
(i) Try mental exercises to reduce stress
When does it become essential to maintain immune systems better
As life expectancy has increased and recently has inexplicably started to fall again the incidence of age related conditions are more prominent as demographics show a more aged society. Our immune capabilities are eroded as we grow older resulting in more cancer and infections.
Elderly are prone to infectious diseases
The conclusions of many studies show that although some people age healthily the elderly are more prone(likely)major way to get infectious diseases. These studies also unfortunately show that not only do the elderly catch more diseases in comparison with younger people but also more likely to die from them. For people over the age of 65+ influenza, respiratory infections particularly pneumonia are (predominantly) the prominent cause of death.
Yet to be identified as to why
No one really knows why this happens scientists assert (insist) that it correlates with reducing T cells possibly from an atrophying (die slowly) thymus which makes it harder to fight off infections. Whether this reduction in thymus function is responsible for the reduced number of T cells produced is not certain. Other factors that play a major role in this interplay are yet to be fully understood. Others are concentrating on the role bone marrow plays as it becomes less efficient in the production of stem cells required by the immune system to effectively (efficiently) produce its differing (different)cells.
Older people have reduced immune response
Older people have a reduced immune response to infections as they demonstrate in their response to vaccines. Studies show that influenza vaccines in older people 65+ years are significantly less in efficacy (low result) than they are with healthy children of 2+ years. Despite (no matter) the outcomes vaccinations for S. pneumoniae and influenza are significantly reducing the rates of sickness and deaths in older people when compared with no vaccination.
Connection between immunity and nutrition
Apparently there is a connection between immunity and nutrition in the elderly. “Micro nutrient malnutrition” a form of malnutrition (not getting enough goodness in diet) is bizarrely also found in affluent countries. This deficiency is linked to insufficient( not enough) essential vitamins and trace elements. This may be as a result of older people eating less or are not having the right range of variety in their diets.This therefore brings us to the role of supplements in older people to aid in maintaining a healthier immune system. It is thus very wise to seek advice from doctors specialising in geriatric(elderly) diets. Even minute changes can have grave repercussions(results that go wrong) within this age demographic.
How do we supplement our diet to improve our immune systems
Scientists have always recognized that people who are malnourished through poverty are more prone to infectious diseases. The immune system which is a fighting force marches on its stomach. Immune system warriors require a regular healthy diet of nourishment to keep strong and going. There are doubts whether malnutrition effects are the cause of increased rates of disease that is not yet certain. Relatively(in relation beween 2 or more) there are few studies regarding the effects of nutrition on human immune systems. There are even fewer studies tying in the effects of nutrition to the direct development in the treatment of immune system diseases through comparison.
Micro nutrient Deficiencies
There exists some evidence that micro nutrient deficiencies of selenium, zinc, iron, copper,Vitamins B6, A & C, Folic acid as examples change immune system responses as tested and measured in the lab on animals. The impact of these immune system changes on the health of animals remains less clear. The immune response in humans and how it is affected by these deficiencies has not yet been conducted.
Therefore what steps do you need to take if you suspect your diet is not providing your full micronutrient needs? Perhaps you may not like vegetables. Supplementing daily with multivitamin and mineral supplements may bring other health benefits to your immune system. More does not mean better and taking mega doses of a single vitamin do not address(not take up the issue fully) the range(wider view) required to have a beneficial ( of benefit) effect.
Knowledge and information are crucial (very important) in the world we live. A pandemic that is raging across the world and infecting it’s inhabitants is a disease that requires a fortified (strong) immune system. From what an immune system comprises (includes) and how it deals with an invading disease when a virus attacks cells immune system that produce antibodies. How we require to keep our immune systems strong through lifestyle and diets while recognizing it is essential. Ensuring how to supplement diets to make immune systems optimized is critical. Thank you for reading this article and as always you can make contact through the details above. You may equally wish to leave a comment in the comments box below as it will be much welcomed and appreciated. Keep safe, take care and all the very best to you all, until the next time.
British Society for Immunology.
Harvard Medical School.