Study Shows How the Immune System Can Be Trained Against Infection

Researchers identified a key molecular mechanism in macrophages, the infection-fighting cells of the innate immune system, that determines whether cells can train and how well they can be trained. Microbes and other intruders, but they can also be “trained” to react more aggressively and more strongly to such threats, report scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, who discovered the basic rule of this process in a certain class of cells. In the journal Science, the researchers published a key molecular mechanism within macrophages, the infection-fighting cells of the innate immune system, that determines whether and how well cells can be trained.

Their findings could help pave the way for future specific strategies to improve immune system function. “Like a soldier or an athlete, innate immune cells can be trained through past experience to better fight infections,” said lead author Quen Cheng, assistant professor of infectious diseases at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. He noted, however, that researchers had previously observed that some immune training experiences seemed better than others. ”This surprising finding motivated us to better understand the rules that govern this process.

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