Im­mune Sys­tem Can Af­fect So­cial Be­hav­iour

Re­searchers de­vel­oped and em­ployed a novel sys­tems-bi­ol­ogy ap­proach to in­ves­ti­gate the com­plex di­a­logue be­tween im­mune sig­nalling and brain func­tion

Fiji Sun - - Sun Spectrum -

Amal­func­tion­ing im­mune sys­tem may be re­spon­si­ble for so­cial deficits in neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­eases such as autism­spec­trum dis­or­ders and schizophre­nia, sug­gests new re­search. “Our find­ings con­trib­ute to a deeper un­der­stand­ing of so­cial dys­func­tion in neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders, such as autism and schizophre­nia, and may open new av­enues for ther­a­peu­tic ap­proaches,” said Vladimir Lit­vak, As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Mas­sachusetts Med­i­cal School in the US. The study was pub­lished in the jour­nal Na­ture. The re­searchers de­vel­oped and em­ployed a novel sys­tems-bi­ol­ogy ap­proach to in­ves­ti­gate the com­plex di­a­logue be­tween im­mune sig­nalling and brain func­tion in health and dis­ease.

Us­ing this ap­proach, the sci­en­tists found that im­mune sys­tem sig­nalling can di­rectly af­fect, and even change, so­cial be­hav­iour in mice and other model an­i­mals. The re­searchers pred­i­cated an un­ex­pected role for in­ter­feron gamma (IFN-?), an im­por­tant sub­stance se­creted by im­mune cells, in pro­mot­ing so­cial brain func­tions.

In the course of the re­search, they found that block­ing IFN-? in mice made mouse brains be­come hy­per­ac­tive and caused atyp­i­cal so­cial be­hav­iour.

Restor­ing of IFN-?-sig­nalling in the brain nor­malised brain ac­tiv­ity and so­cial be­hav­iour. “The brain and the adap­tive im­mune sys­tem were thought to be iso­lated from each other, and any im­mune ac­tiv­ity in the brain was per­ceived as a sign of pathol­ogy,” said Jonathan Kip­nis from the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia. “And now, not only are we show­ing that they are closely in­ter­act­ing, but some of our be­hav­iour traits might have evolved be­cause of our im­mune re­sponse to pathogens,” Kip­nis ex­plained.

Photo: In­dian Ex­press

Peo­ple en­joy­ing a so­cial get- to­gether.

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