A new research study on mice has been in the news lately for proving that your muscles might play a role in building your immunity. This has proven to be especially true in the case of severe chronic illnesses. Severe chronic illnesses can wear down your immune system and also result in wasting of muscles. This process is known in the medical community as cachexia. However strong skeletal muscles might help you combat this effect.
An article published in Science Advances with reference to the research work done by scientists at German Cancer Center at Heidelberg has opened doors for the new generation to prove whether the analogy between the immune system of the body and skeletal muscles holds true in humans or not.
According to the scientists at the National Cancer Institute, cachexia usually results in wasting away of muscles and fat in serious illnesses such as cancer. It may also affect patients suffering from AIDS, heart failure, chronic kidney, and liver diseases. In fact, a research has proved that about one-third of the cancer patients die every year from cachexia.
According to Dr. Alfred Goldberg, Harvard University School of Medicine, Cambridge, cachexia may result from a patient’s body trying to overcompensate for taking energy from muscles and fat when trying to fight a severe illness. That being said, the causes for the same are still largely unknown. Even though scientists are aware about the mortality rate linked to cachexia, there haven’t been any attempts to discover therapies to treat the same. However, with the growing awareness about it in the medical and scientist community is definitely a step in the right direction.
Other than cachexia, patients with severe chronic illnesses also deal with a weakened immune system. The reason behind this is the exhaustion of T-cells which are linked to our body’s central line of defense. According to Dr. Guoliang Cui, it is a known fact that T-cells can lead to loss of skeletal muscle mass but it is still unclear how skeletal muscles affect the T-cells of the immune system.
To discover a relationship among cachexia, skeletal muscle mass, and T-cells, scientists at German Cancer Center, Heidelberg, infected mice with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. The results indicated that to fight the virus, the skeletal muscles of mice released interleukin 15. Interleukin-15 then does its job and attracts the precursor T-cells to the skeletal muscles of the mice. This prevents the T-cells from getting destroyed due to the infection. Hence the body will be able to fight the infection for a longer period of time. The study proved that higher muscle mass in mice resulted in better ability of the body’s immune system to fight infections. This ability was decreased in the weaker mice.
Although the research is a great step towards studying how cachexia linked mortalities can be reduced in those suffering from chronic illnesses, there are a lot of questions which still remain unanswered. It is upon the future scientists of the world to take this research forward and discover these relations with respect to humans. We hope that as the research goes further, scientists will be able to find solutions to make the lives of those suffering from such severe chronic illnesses better.