19 Feb COVID-19: Immune Cells Act Quicker in Children Than Adults
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Melanie Neeland PhD
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Royal Children’s Hospital
Flemington Road, Parkville
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Children generally have mild COVID-19 disease compared to adults, however the immune mechanisms underpinning this response are unclear. Understanding the underlying age-related differences in the severity of COVID-19 will provide important insights and opportunities for prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We analysed blood samples from children and adults infected with, or exposed to, the new coronavirus. We monitored the immune response during infection and up to two months afterwards. We showed that children with COVID-19 had a highly activated innate immune system during the acute phase of infection. This was characterised by increased activation of inflammatory cells and reduced proportions of first-responder immune cells in the bloodstream, suggesting these cells are migrating to sites of infection to clear the virus before it can really take hold. These quick and robust innate immune responses were not observed in adults with COVID-19.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: This is a first step in understanding the immune mechanisms that may underlie the reduced severity of COVID-19 infection in children.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Whether this enhanced innate immune activation in children translates to long term protective immunity is unclear. We will now follow up these children at 6 months and 12 months post infection to explore the presence and strength of protective immune responses, including T cell immunity and neutralising antibodies.
Neeland, M.R., Bannister, S., Clifford, V. et al. Innate cell profiles during the acute and convalescent phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children. Nat Commun12, 1084 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21414-x
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