Tuesday , May 18 2021

Food additives can affect how well the MSUToday flu vaccine works well

Scientists at the Michigan State University have linked a common food preservative with a changed immune response that is likely to interfere with the flu vaccine.

A study on mice, presented at an experimental biology meeting in Orlando, Florida, April 7, offers a new potential factor in the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Tert-butylhydroquinone, or tBHQ, can be found in several food products, including cooking oils, frozen meat (especially fish) and processed foods such as chips and crackers. Products do not always have to include a supplement to the ingredient list.

"If you get a vaccine, but part of the immune system does not learn to recognize and fight viral-infected cells, it can cause a smaller vaccine," said Robert Freeborn, a fourth-year student of PhD study at Cheryl Rockwell, Ph.D., Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology . "We found that when tBHQ was introduced into the diet, it affected certain cells that are important for the proper immune response to the flu."

Using various strains of influenza, including H1N1 and H3N2, Freeborn and Rockwell focused on CD4 and CD8 T cells and incorporated tBHQ in mice food in an amount comparable to human consumption.

"CD4 T stations are like movie directors who tell everyone else what to do," said Freeborn. "CD8 T cells are actors that make up what the director wants."

Researchers have studied several response factors, including whether T-cells emerged, were able to do a real job, and eventually identify and remember the attack virus.

"All in all, we saw a reduced number of CD8 T cells in the lungs and a decrease in the number of CD4 and CD8 T cells that could identify the influenza virus in mice exposed to tBHQ," Freeborn said. "These mice also had widespread inflammation and mucus production in the lungs."

TBHQ also slowed down initial T cell activation, reducing their ability to fight infections faster. This allowed the virus to break into the mice until the cells were fully activated.

The second phase of the study showed that the additive prevented the ability of the immune system to remember how to respond to a flu virus, especially when another form was introduced at some other time. This resulted in longer recovery and additional weight loss in mice.

"It's important for the body to recognize the virus and remember how to effectively fight it," said Freeborn. "That's the whole purpose of the vaccine, boosting this memory, and producing immunity. TBHQ seems to disrupt this process."

The research was funded by the National Institute of Health.

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