MICHIGAN – Scientists at the Michigan State University are co-prescribing foods with a modified immune response that may prevent flu vaccines.
A study conducted on mice presented at the 2019 meeting of Experimental Biology in Orlando, Florida on April 7, offers a new potential for vaccine efficacy.
Tert-butylhydroquinone, or tBHQ, can be found in several foods, including edible oils, frozen mussels (especially fish) and processed foods such as cod and crackers. Products do not always have to add an ingredient to the list.
"If you get a vaccine but part of the immune system is not learning to recognize and do not fight cell infected viruses, it can lead to a less effective vaccine," said Robert Fribor, the fourth year doctoral student who led the study with Cheryl Rockwell, Associate Professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. "We determined that when tBHQ was administered through a diet, it affected certain cells that are important for the implementation of the appropriate immune response to the flu.
Using various strains of the influenza, including H1
"CD4 T-cells are similar directors who tell everyone what to do," said Freiborne. "CD8 T-cells are actors who do what the director wants."
Researchers looked at several reaction factors, including whether T-cells appeared, were able to do the right job and ultimately recognize and memorize the virus's invasion.
"Overall, we saw a reduced amount of CD8 T cells in the lungs and reduced the number of CD4 and CD8 T cells that could identify the influenza virus in mice that were exposed to tBHQ," said Fribor. "These mice also had a common inflammation and production of mucus in the lungs."
TBHQ also slowed down the initial activation of T cells, reducing their ability to fight infection more quickly. This allowed the virus to run in mice until cells were fully activated.
The second phase of the study showed that the additive interferes with the ability of the immune system to memorize how to respond to the influenza virus, particularly when another strain was introduced at another time. This has led to a longer recovery and additional weight loss in mice.
"It is important for the body to recognize the virus and remember how to effectively deal with it," said Freiborne. "This is the essence of vaccines to stimulate this memory and produce immunity. TBHQ seems to be breaking this process."
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
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