Immunity is the buzzword these days, especially after the coronavirus outbreak. A new study has put the emphasis on strong muscle mass for a better immune system. It revealed that strong skeletal muscles can play an important role in maintaining an effective immune system. Accumulated muscles and fat can slowly lead to severe chronic illness and weaken the immune system, it noted.
The research, which scientists at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg have now published in the journal Science Advances, was done on mice and revealed a relationship between muscle mass loss and T cell exhaustion. This has implications for the strength of the immune system.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), cachexia typically accompanies severe chronic illnesses such as cancer. It is characterised by the wasting away of the body’s muscle and fat. Cachexia occurs in many cancers, usually at the advanced stages of the disease. It is most commonly seen in a subset of cancers, led by pancreatic and gastric cancer, but also lung, esophageal, colorectal, and head and neck cancer.
One of the professors of the study, Dr Cui said, “In our study, mice with more muscle mass were better able to cope with chronic viral infection than those whose muscles were weaker. But whether the results can be transferred to humans, future experiments will have to show.”
The study focused on skeletal muscle, but cachexia also causes fat tissue to waste away. As a consequence, the study authors suggest that future research could explore whether or not a similar relationship exists between fat tissue and the protection of T cells.
“If the T cells, which actively fight the infection, lose their full functionality through continuous stimulation, the precursor cells can migrate from the muscles and develop into functional T cells,” read lead study author Dr Jingxia Wu.
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