Why does the immune system make you sick?

The immune system is a system necessary for the body of an organism to fight invading pathogens, but activation of the immune system can cause symptoms such as fever and sometimes even attack normal tissues and cells. It can also lead to autoimmune diseases. Jonathan Goodman , a PhD student at the University of Cambridge who studies human evolution, commented on the question, 'Why does the immune system make you sick?'

Immune response might be more about signaling to others that you need help and less about protecting your body

According to Mr. Goodman, in the field of infectious disease research including the new coronavirus infection (COVID-19), the question 'Why do people infected with the virus die?' Is being actively discussed. .. In the first place, Goodman points out that the virus aims to proliferate and maintain its existence like other living organisms, not to kill infected subjects.

In recent years, there have been many reports of the reason why virus-infected organisms die, 'the body's immune system damages major organs in the process of eliminating pathogens, resulting in death.' I will. Even COVID-19, cells to fight pathogens cytokine excessive release a substance called cytokine release syndrome (cytokine storm) is involved in the severity has been shown possibilities, medical personnel weakens the patient's immune response I am trying to treat with steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

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At first glance, the fact that the immune system, which should have been developed to protect people, kills people seems like an evolutionary bug. However, Goodman argues that the development of the immune system may be related to 'animal communication and behavior' rather than evolutionary bugs.

The existence of a behavioral immune system in which the psychology and behavior of animals work to maintain health has been known for a long time, and emotions such as 'I do not want to touch dirty or smelly things' or 'Avoid rotten food' And behavior act as a kind of immunity that protects the body from illness. They also know that some animals avoid sick individuals if they can tell from their surroundings that they are ill.

However, recent theoretical studies have shown a tendency to be considerate of 'people suffering from illness or injury,' especially in humans, Goodman said. In other words, the state in which a person is suffering from an illness or injury acts as a kind of 'signal', increasing the possibility of receiving care from another person. 'Perhaps in human history, cared people tended to get better results than those who tried to survive on their own,' said Goodman, who says the immune system gets help from others. It suggests that you may be attacking your body.

In addition, it is not only the owner of the body that uses the body's immune response, but some viruses and bacteria try to induce coughing and sneezing of the host and spread the infection to other individuals. On the other hand, the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) causes almost no symptoms in some patients, and as a result, there are cases where the infection spreads to others without symptoms, and the mutual relationship between the immune system and the disease. The effects vary.

Goodman argues that if doctors can predict the interaction of a particular infection with the patient's immune system, the treatment can be better coordinated. 'Viewing immunity not only as a biological thing, but as a broader signaling system can help us effectively understand the complex relationships with pathogens,' he said.

in Science, Posted by log1h_ik