In a new study from the University of Córdoba, researchers found a common herpes virus can accelerate the decline of the immune system and even increase the risk of heart disease.
Cytomegalovirus(CMV) is a very common herpes virus, with a very high prevalence that increases with age, but it does not generate any type of symptoms.
Like cold sores, CMV occasionally reactivates, and the immune system rebuilds a memory against it.
Tlymphocytes are the cells of the immune system in charge of fending off viruses and cellular alterations produced in carcinogenic processes.
They are capable of “remembering” and recognizing the “enemy” in a way that shortens their response times in the event of reinfections.
The team has spent years analyzing whether the alterations and deterioration of the immune system are due to age, or to cytomegalovirus.
In their latest studies they analyzed healthy individuals in three age classes (young, middle-aged and older); 119 people in all, organizing them into two groups: infected and not infected with CMV.
The team found that infection by this virus in some people leads to the expansion of cells that are pro-inflammatory; that is, capable of causing different vascular disorders, and even of increasing one’s chances of suffering heart disease by 20%.
Not all people who contract the virus generate this type of cell, but in those that do, they build up and, when they pass a threshold, a percentage, they can cause severe problems.
The research group is currently studying the behavior of these cells in patients with heart diseases like aortic stenosis, to determine the threshold allowing them to define the risk factor. At the same time, they are working on a study focused on the impact of cytomegalovirus with respect to COVID-19 and its effects on the immune system.
If you care about the immune system, please read studies about your immune system that can build lasting defense after COVID-19 and findings of the stuff in popular foods that may harm your immune system.
For more information about wellness, please see recent studies about the exercise that is key to improving older people’s longevity, and results showing that healthy gut builds a strong immune system that could help defeat COVID-19.
The study is published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences and The Journals of Gerontology. One author of the study is Dr. Alejandra Pera.
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