Primate Immune System Differences Identified12/17/10
FRIDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Differences in immune
signaling pathways among various species may explain why humans are
more susceptible than other primates to certain infectious
diseases, researchers say.
For example, when it comes to the progression of HIV to AIDS or
severe complications from hepatitis B, it has been found that
humans are more sensitive than chimpanzees to the serious effects
of these viral infections, noted Luis B. Barreiro of the University
of Chicago and colleagues.
In the new study, published in the Dec. 16 online edition of the
PLoS Genetics, Barreiro's team conducted the first genome-wide comparison of genes regulated by the innate immune system in humans, chimpanzees and rhesus macaques. In order to identify functional differences in their immune pathways, the researchers stimulated immune cells from each of the three primate species.
The core response needed to fight any invading pathogen was
similar in all three species. But there were differences in how the
immune system fought off certain viral and microbial infections.
This likely reflects rapid adaptation cycles between specific hosts
and viruses, the study authors said.
One particularly interesting finding was that many
HIV-interacting genes responded uniquely in chimpanzees, which may
help explain why chimpanzees do not routinely develop AIDS after
being infected with HIV, the study authors noted in a news release
from the journal's publisher.
The researchers also found that human immune responses were
particularly enriched for genes involved in cell death and cancer
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
has more about the
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