Measles infection may lead to depletion of certain specific B and T memory cells of the immune system, resetting the immunity, finds a recent Harvard research.
The study is published in the Science journal.
Scientists observed that the levels of total circulating lymphocytes was recovered after initial measles virus (MeV) infection within 4 weeks, in unvaccinated children.
Although new transitional B cells were formed, it was found that the infection had wiped out the body’s memory of most previous pathogen encounter in the individual causing “immune amnesia”.
The scientists used B cell receptor (BCR) sequencing of human peripheral blood lymphocytes before and after MeV infection. The virus could eliminate nearly 11% – 73% of the children’s protective antibodies, researchers say.
“It sort of resets your immune system back to a more naive state,”explains Harvard epidemiologist and coauthor Michael Mena in a news source.
In order to rebuild the immunity the patients would need to be exposed to numerous pathogens just as they were in their infancy, he added.
To validate their result, the team then carried out experiments on macaque monkeys and ferrets.
Measles virus (MeV) infection can results in both viremia and lymphopenia. The contagious childhood disease is on the rise globally, and may be more harmful than previously conceived.
The deleterious action of the measles virus propels and raises significance for the administration of measles vaccine.